Top 10 Moments in NBA Playoff History
Basketball fans around the world eagerly await the start of the NBA playoffs each year. This thrilling tournament features the best teams from the regular season battling it out to become champions of the league. While each postseason is special in its own way, there are certain moments that stand out in NBA playoff history as truly iconic. From buzzer-beaters to clutch performances, let’s take a look at the top 15 moments in NBA playoff history.
Michael Jordan’s career is filled with memorable moments, but perhaps none is more legendary than “The Shot” in the 1989 playoffs. With the Chicago Bulls tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the final seconds of Game 5, Jordan hit a game-winning jumper over Craig Ehlo to clinch the series.
In Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan played through a severe case of the flu to lead the Chicago Bulls to victory over the Utah Jazz. Despite being visibly weakened, Jordan scored 38 points and hit the game-winning three-pointer in the final minute.
In Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors were tied in the final minutes. With the Warriors threatening to take the lead, LeBron James made a spectacular block on Andre Iguodala’s layup to preserve the tie. The Cavaliers went on to win the game and the championship.
With the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons tied in Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals, Larry Bird made a crucial steal and assist to give the Celtics a two-point lead. The play helped propel Boston to a series-clinching win and a trip to the NBA Finals.
Michael Jordan’s high-flying acrobatics were on full display in the 1991 NBA Finals. In Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers, Jordan soared past multiple defenders to throw down a spectacular dunk that has since become known simply as “The Dunk.”
Four years after “The Shot,” Michael Jordan once again hit a game-winning jumper in the playoffs. In Game 4 of the 1993 NBA Finals, Jordan scored over Bryon Russell to give the Chicago Bulls a 3-1 series lead over the Utah Jazz.
In Game 1 of the 1995 Western Conference Finals, the Houston Rockets were down by as many as 20 points to the Phoenix Suns. The Rockets, however, pulled off a remarkable fourth-quarter comeback under the leadership of Hakeem Olajuwon, which led to an unlikely victory that has since come to be known as the “Memorial Day Miracle.”
In the final seconds of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan hit a game-winning shot over Utah Jazz defender Bryon Russell to secure the championship for the Chicago Bulls. The play has become known as “The Last Shot” and is widely considered one of the greatest moments in NBA history.
In Game 7 of the 1978 Eastern Conference Finals, the Washington Bullets were leading the San Antonio Spurs by one point in the final seconds. However, Spurs guard George Gervin had a chance to win the game with a free throw. After missing the shot, Gervin redeemed himself by hitting a game-winning jumper that has since become known as “The Iceman Cometh.”
In the 1976 Eastern Conference Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off a stunning upset of the Boston Celtics, who had won the previous two NBA championships. The Cavaliers won Game 4 in double overtime thanks to guard Austin Carr’s 20 points in the fourth quarter, clinching the series victory.