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The Biggest NBA Playoff Betting Upsets of the Past 30 Seasons

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the biggest nba playoff betting upsets of the past 30

The NBA playoffs begin this Saturday with the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks claiming the top seeds in their respective conferences. The two teams hope to avoid making the list of the biggest surprises in NBA playoff history.

Newspapers.com archives helped the Sports Odds History team add nearly all of the playoff series prizes since 1988, as well as the NBA final prizes for all but three years since 1969.

Of the 459 playoff series that have had odds available since 1988, 100 (22%) of the underdogs won the series. The list below limits them to the seven underdog winners who were +500 or higher prior to the start of the series.

This does not include the 2016 NBA Finals when the Cavaliers were +1150 to come back from a 3-1 deficit as they were only +180 before Game 1.

1990 Western Conference semifinals

No. 5 Phoenix Suns (54-28) over # 1 Los Angeles Lakers (63-19)

  • Odds: Suns +500 / Lakers -700
  • Result: Suns 4-1

The Lakers reached the NBA Finals in seven of the previous eight seasons and were again preferred to win the Western Conference. Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had retired the previous off-season, but Magic Johnson core James Worthy and Byron Scott steered the Lakers for their eleventh straight season with 54 or more wins.

Last year the Lakers swept the sun when the two teams clashed in the Western Conference final, but every game was decided in single digits. All Stars Tom Chambers and Kevin Johnson fueled the Suns offensive as they both averaged 22 points per game.

The Suns won their two home games by double digits and won two games in LA with a total of five points. Phoenix lost in the Conference finals in six games against the third-placed Portland.

2004 NBA Finals

No. 3 Detroit Pistons (54-28) Above # 2 Los Angeles Lakers (56-26)

  • Odds: Pistons +500 / Lakers -700
  • Result: piston 4-1

From 1999 to 2003, the representative of the Eastern Conference won a total of six games in the NBA final. Detroit had upset Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it lacked a well-known superstar that was common among previous champions.

After their triple win in 2000/02, the Lakers had problems in the 2002/03 season, winning only 50 games and losing in the semifinals of the Western Conference against San Antonio. They brought veterans Karl Malone, Gary Payton and Horace Grant into the off-season and, with +140, were the favorites to win the pre-season NBA championship.

With no home advantage, they beat the Spurs and Timberwolves to make it to the finals and looked like they were going to claim another title.

During the final, the Pistons Defense eliminated the Lakers as they only allowed 82 points per game. Detroit won the series in five steps, beating the Lakers by at least eight points in their wins, and causing the biggest surprise in the history of the NBA Finals.

Shaquille O’Neal was sold to Miami in the off-season and the Lakers dynasty was over.

2009 Eastern Conference Final

No. 3 Orlando Magic (59-23) vs. # 1 Cleveland Cavaliers (66-16)

  • Odds: Magic +550 / Cavaliers -700
  • Result: Magic 4-2

LeBron James won his first of four regular season MVP awards as the Cavaliers, along with the Lakers, were favorites to win the championship that entered the playoffs. This was Cleveland’s best team in James’ first stint with the Cavaliers as they hadn’t won more than 50 games up to that season.

Orlando was led by Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard and played with Rashard Lewis, JJ Redick and Hedo. one “ahead of the curve” and scored a high number of 3-point points (eight more than the league average during the regular season). Turkoglu. The Magic fit in well with Cleveland after winning seven of their last 10 regular season games.

Entry into the playoffs of that series might not have had such a high series price, but Cleveland swept each of its first two playoff series while the Magic took six games to beat the 76ers in Round 1 and then seven games went to the Kill defending champions Celtics.

Orlando stole Game 1 in Cleveland after Lewis made a green 3-pointer game 15 seconds to go and the Cavaliers in Game 2 needed a buzzing 3-pointer from James to tie the series. James averaged 38.5 points per game on the series, but it wasn’t enough as the Magic shot 41% out of 3-point land and won the series in six games.

Orlando lost the final in five games against the Lakers when NBA fans were denied a dream game between LeBron and Kobe NBA Finals.

1989 Western Conference Round 1

No. 7 Golden State Warriors (43-39) Above No. 2 Utah Jazz (51-31)

  • Odds: Warrior +700 / Jazz -1000
  • Result: Warriors 3-0

The Stockton-Malone era was in their sophomore season and the pair led jazz to their second league title in franchise history. In the preseason Utah had displaced the defending champions Lakers to seven games in the Conference semifinals.

The Warriors won just 20 games last season but improved by 23 wins, thanks in part to fifth overall pick and Rookie of the Year Mitch Richmond, who averaged 22 points per game. Perhaps the driving force behind the series price was so high that the Warriors lost their last six games in the last 10 days of the regular season and dropped from 4th to 7th in the West.

After shooting 48% out of the field in the regular season, the jazz in series went cold, only shooting 43% to Golden State’s 49%. All-star striker Chris Mullin caught the hot hand, shooting 41 in Game 1 and Game 3 in game 3. The Warriors became the first team without a home advantage in 23 seasons to win a best-of-five series.

Golden State lost 4-1 to 3rd placed Phoenix in the following round.

2012 Eastern Conference Round 1

No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers (35-31) over No. 1 Chicago Bulls (50-16)

  • Odds: 76ers +900 / Bulls -1400
  • Result: 76ers 4-2

If any streak deserves an asterisk on this list, it is when Derrick Rose, 2010-11 League MVP, tore his cruciate ligament by about 12 points in the fourth quarter of Game 1.

Chicago was still -600 to win the series after Game 1, but the 76ers won Game 2 by 17 points and then won each of their home games to beat the Bulls in six games. It wasn’t nice, however, as the two teams combined scored 157 points per game in games three through six.

Philadelphia gave fourth-placed Boston a run in the Conference semifinals, but ultimately lost in seven games.

2007 Western Conference Round 1

No. 8 Golden State Warriors (42-40) across # 1 Dallas Mavericks (67-15)

  • Odds: Warriors +1200 / Mavericks -1800
  • Result: Warriors 4-2

Dallas recovered from a heartbreaking loss in the 2006 NBA final to Miami to secure their No. 1 position in the West with six games over Phoenix. Dirk Nowitzki won his only league MVP award when the Mavericks set a franchise record for victories.

The Warriors finished second in the NBA in scoring with five different players averaging 16 points per game or more. Head coach Don Nelson, who was back to coach the Warriors in his first season, played a fast-paced style with the youngest squad among the playoff teams. Nelson was also the head coach of the Warriors when they angered Utah in the aforementioned 1989 series.

Many believe this is the biggest surprise in NBA playoff history, but Golden State had three other reasons for joining the series.

Nelson had coached Dallas for eight years through 2004/05, and the Mavericks roster hadn’t changed much since he left. The Warriors finished the regular season nine of the last 10 and 16 of 21, so they made the playoffs with verve.

The Warriors defeated the Mavericks in six of their seven matchups to date, including each of three games in Dallas.

Golden State set the tone for the series, winning Game 1 by 12 and then putting an exclamation mark on the series, which upset with their 25-point home win in Game 6 4-1 in the next round.

1994 Western Conference Round 1

No. 8 Denver Nuggets (42-40) across # 1 Seattle SuperSonics (63-19)

  • Odds: Nuggets +1400 / SuperSonics -2000
  • Result: Nuggets 3-2

Beginning with the 1983/84 season, the NBA expanded the number of teams that reached the playoffs in each conference from six to eight. In the first 10 seasons of Match No. 1 vs.

By 1994, the Lakers’ number 8 came closest to the riot against the suns in 1993. As underdogs of the +2000 series, they won the first two games in Phoenix before the Suns turned things around and won the last three games.

Seattle set what was then a franchise record for wins, ending the season 26-5, including wins in their last 12 home games. The Sonics finished in the top six of the NBA in both offense and defensive season and went into the playoffs as +180 favorite to win the championship as Michael Jordan was still in baseball Break was.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, had the longest chances of winning the championship of any team, entering the playoffs 150-1. They were the youngest team in the NBA and no one in their squad had started or played more than 17 minutes in a single playoff game. They were a modest 28-13 at home, defeating Seattle in both of the Sonics’ trips to Denver during the regular season.

Seattle blew the nuggets out in Game 1 with 24 points and won in Game 2 with 10 points. The Nuggets held their serve in Denver, winning Game 3 at 17 and winning Game 4 in overtime, setting the stage for a pivotal Game 5 in Seattle.

Seattle were a 12-point favorite in Game 5, which saw eight draws and 13 changes in leadership. The Sonics lead by up to 11 points in the third quarter, but the reserves Robert Pack and Brian Williams brought back the Nuggets and led by eight minutes in the fourth quarter.

A put-back 0.5 seconds back from Sonic’s wing Kendall Gill sent the game into overtime. Denver scored the last five points of extra time and finally took the lead after the 3-point game from LaPhonso Ellis with 1:26.

Dikembe Mutombo, who had eight blocks each in Games 4 and 5 and set an NBA record with 31 blocks in a best-of-five series, blocked two Seattle shots in the last 80 seconds to secure victory for Denver to back up.

The Nuggets almost made another miracle comeback against number 5 seeded Utah in the Conference semifinals when they fell 3-0, but ultimately lost the decisive game 7.

The debate between the 1994 Nuggets and 2007 Warriors about what the playoff series’ bigger surprise was going to continue, but at least we now have a missing piece of the puzzle with the series awards.

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