Five greatest NBA playoff series of all-time

Klay Thompson vs KD
The Golden State Warriors have played in some of the greatest NBA playoff series. Photo from NYT.

We all know that the playoffs are the most entertaining games to watch because teams give it all—offensively and defensively. Whether it’s the first round, second round, or conference finals, the postseason produced some of the greatest NBA playoff series of all time.

Best NBA playoff series of all-time

Almost all of the best NBA playoff series are decided in 7 games. Teams just wouldn’t quit and some even come back from a huge series deficit. A lot of legendary moments came from those series.

Let’s check out the five best NBA playoff series of all time.

Warriors vs Thunder, 2016

What will happen when the league’s two best offensive teams clash? Definitely one hell of a series!

The 2016 Western Conference Finals between the Warriors and Thunder was an offensive onslaught right from the start. Both teams endlessly fired at will. Clearly, this was a battle of who is the best scoring team. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were duelling each game, averaging 28 points per game and 30 points per game respectively.

The series started with a 3-1 Thunder lead but the Warriors willed the last 3 games to their favor. Curry and Klay Thompson were on fire all series long. The Thunder couldn’t find an answer to the splash brothers and ultimately was defeated in a 7-game series.

After the Thunder lost, Durant left and joined the Warriors in free agency.


Clippers vs Spurs, 2015

The 2015 Clippers vs Spurs is one of the best first-round playoff series ever.

The Spurs were clearly aging fast after their last championship. Tim Duncan was 38, Manu Ginobili was 37, and Tony Parker was 32. However, they still had the rising star Kawhi Leonard that time, who is emerging as one of the league’s best two-way players.

Meanwhile, the Lob City Clippers were considered as one of the most exciting teams in the league. “The lob, the jam!” You heard this all the time when watching them. They were led by the Big 3—Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan.

The series was pushed to Game 7 and we all know what happened at the end. Paul hit a legendary game-winning shot over Duncan to advance the Clippers to the second round.

Celtics vs 76ers, 1981

Let’s travel back to the 80s. The 1981 Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and 76ers was legendary. The series featured a star-studded lineup with NBA legends such as Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish.

The series was a dogfight right from the start and only one game was a blowout. Almost all of the games were decided with one or two possessions.

In the first four games, the 76ers led the series 3-1. However, the Celtics rallied back in a historic fashion.

In Game 7, Bird hit the game-winning jumper to advance the Celtics to the NBA Finals.

Kings vs Lakers, 2002

The Kings and Lakers just went at each other in this series. During this time, the Lakers are the defending champions for two years in a row.

However, their California rival Sacramento Kings was ready to challenge them. After all, they hoist the best offense in the league and have a deep lineup with players like Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac, and Mike Bibby.

The series was a gritty one leading to a deciding game 7. In Game 7, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal dropped a combined 65 points to bury the hot Kings squad.

The Lakers won the epic series but the Kings won the hearts of many. NBA fans deemed this Kings team as one of the greatest teams to never win a title.

Celtics vs Bulls, 2009

Who would’ve thought that rookie Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon would give the defending champions a tough matchup and push them to a 7-game series? This matchup is considered as the greatest NBA playoff series of all time.

The Celtics had their Big 4 championship lineup with Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. However, the reigning defensive player of the year, Kevin Garnett, didn’t play due to a season-ending injury. But still, the Celtics were a scary team.

During the series, there were clutch plays after clutch plays. This led to a lot of lead changes and overtime games. One game even went to three overtime periods (Game 6).

Gordon had been unreal for the Bulls who averaged 24 points per game. Meanwhile, rookie Rose averaged 20 points per game. For the Celtics, Allen averaged 23 points per game, dropped a 51-point game, and hit clutch shots after clutch shots.

After a gruelling series, the Celtics managed to be victorious.

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About Jeremy Mallari 16 Articles
Jeremy lives and breathes basketball. He's an avid NBA fan for almost a decade now.

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