Crazy 8’s: How Each 8-over-1 Playoff Upset Was Won

05.10.12 5 years ago
Alonzo Mourning

There have only been four 8-over-1 upsets in NBA postseason history, but a Derrick Rose ACL tear has brought Philadelphia to the verge of No. 5 tonight. Unfortunately for Philly fans, this series will be remembered most for the injury to the Chicago star guard as much as anything the 76ers do. That can’t be said for the other four upsets in playoff history, when a few huge moments changed everything.

If you’re a fan of Memphis (2011), Golden State (2007), New York (1999) or Denver (1994), chances are you hold these moments in your franchise’s history closer to you than a tourist with his passport. But for everyone else, it’s a look back at playoff history and a chance, for Chicago fans, to know they’re not alone.


Memphis had reason to believe it could win the franchise’s first playoff game after leading the league in steals and paint scoring in the regular season. Tony Allen had the biggest steal percentage all season, and Zach Randolph was the league’s best in offensive rebounding percentage. This wasn’t a team of scrubs. It just happened to be one of the most piecemeal surprise teams, ever. The studious Shane Battier with Z-Bo’s whips? Tony Allen and Marc Gasol? It was a weird stew that the Spurs, 15 games up on the Grizz to finish, couldn’t digest.

The series-clinching Game 6 win put it away, and was huge for the second reason that Gary Neal and his buzzer-beating three had just punched Memphis in the gut to force overtime (a Spurs win) in Game 5. But before the series got to six, Game Three was enormous. Every upset series needs the second win, a confirmation victory. The first could be by chance. A second is something different. Game Three, after Memphis’ lead dwindled from 11 to a tie, was broken by Z-Bo in his first three of his playoff career in the game’s final minute. A series-changing, and defining, bucket.

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Hit the jump to see why an Oracle foresaw this upset…

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Looking at the matchups gave Don Nelson pause before the series, knowing he could win it given the right execution. Despite Dirk‘s huge MVP season, and the fact the Warriors were 25 games behind the Mavericks to finish the season, there was another matchup no one accounted for: Oracle Arena. Just how most wouldn’t have seen the upset coming, there wasn’t much precedent for Oracle’s crazy fans — the team was just 14th of 30 in attendance all season. But given a playoff atmosphere and a yellow T-shirt, the place went nuts: Golden State won each home game in the series by an average of 15.6 points per.

The W’s won 4-2 by thanks to Baron Davis: 25.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in the playoffs on 51 percent shooting. The first round was like he turned all the sliders in his favor like a video game. The capper, however, was Stephen Jackson‘s 7-of-8 night on three-pointers in Game 6. An 18-0 run by the W’s blew this open to a 25-point win and a piece of playoff history.

Hit the jump to see why Allan Houston is in Pat Riley’s nightmares…

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NEW YORK vs. MIAMI (1999)
Pat Riley is still trying to understand what in the name of Allan Houston went wrong in this series. The Knicks had finished six games behind Miami at the end of the lockout-shortened regular season and faced a team with in-their-primes ‘Zo and Tim Hardaway. Then they won by 20 in Game 1, in Miami, and 24 in Game 3; huh?

The moment — before Larry Johnson‘s iconic four-point play against the Pacers — we most associate with the Knicks-Heat rivalry in general belongs to Houston. He took the ball at the three, dipped to the free-throw line and hit his one-handed runner for the 78-77 win. Maybe even more indelible about the moment is his full-court spring and punch in the air at the Miami fans. Remember, this was the third straight year the teams met in the playoffs and the first two times someone actually got punched.

If you think this is the easy moment to reach for, you’re right because this was the only close game of the entire series; Game 4’s 10-point win by Miami was the next closest. The The Knicks in 1999 are the only team go from from an 8-seed to the NBA Finals. From here they knocked off swept Atlanta, 4-0, in the East semis, then beat Indiana, 4-2, in the East finals. But first to feel it was Miami, which spawned the cover photo, which I call, Alonzo in mourning (had to). If you get a chance, watch this video on the Knicks’ ’99 season.

Hit the jump to see the most impressive 8-over-1 upset…

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