NBA playoff series’ are supposed to be in full swing. Without COVID-19, the Conference Finals would be commencing now with the NBA Finals starting very soon. However, due to the pandemic, the NBA has been pushed back to late July. To bring back some memories of the NBA, here are some of the best playoff moments from the past decade.
Damian Lillard’s Series Clinching Shot vs the OKC Thunder
Damian Lillard isn’t a stranger to game-winning shots in playoff series’. This one, however, might be the best series-clinching game-winner in NBA history. Throughout the series, Lillard and Westbrook were going at each other. There was supposedly bad blood between the two superstars. So when they met in a playoff series, they each had a chance to one-up the other. The Thunder won the regular-season series 4-0, so many people had them winning.
However, after the Blazers went up 3-1 in the playoff series, things looked grim for the Thunder. They played a solid Game 5 but faltered in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. Off a Westbrook miss, Lillard pulled up from 37 feet and the rest is history. The second-highest scorer on the Blazers had 17. Lillard was a man on a mission scoring 50 points as he got the last laugh over Westbrook.
Lebron’s Block and Kyrie’s Shot vs the Golden State Warriors
BLOCKED BY JAMES!!!! The Warriors and Cavs met in 2015, but Lebron was without Kevin Love(injured against the Celtics) and Kyrie(injured game 1). The Warriors won that series 4-2, but there was a lot of “what if” chatter had the Cavs had a healthy team. Well, in 2016, the Cavs had a healthy squad, and so did the Warriors.
The Cavs were down 3-1, before eventually tying the series up at 3-3, forcing a Game 7 in Golden State. In the fourth quarter, scoring was hard to come by, especially in the final four minutes. Both teams were scoreless until the Warriors had a great chance. Curry and Igoudala had a 2v1 against JR Smith. They got by him for what seemed to be an easy layup for Igoudala, but Lebron had other plans. He covered 88 feet in 3 seconds, reaching a top speed of 20.1 miles per hour to block Igoudala’s shot.
Then with a minute left, the Cavs took their first lead. Kyrie got the switch on Stephen Curry and got the green light. He hit a tough sidestep three to give the Cavs the lead 92-89. This would prove to be a decisive bucket as the Cavs won their first title in 50 years.
Kawhi’s Shot vs the Philadelphia 76ers
Kawhi averaged 35.7 points and 9.9 rebounds in this series against the Sixers. The playoff series was a back and forth with neither team being able to take advantage of a one game lead. This led to a Game 7 showdown between the two teams. Jimmy Butler tied the game off a missed free throw from Kawhi Leonard, which led to a fastbreak layup for Butler. Kawhi then hit one of the most miraculous shots ever. In the deep corner of the floor over a 7-foot Embiid, Leonard nailed a fade-away jumper. The ball hit the rim four times before finally deciding to go into the hoop. His shot gave the Raptors the win and a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Damian Lillard’s Series Clinching Shot vs the Houston Rockets
The Rockets looked to force a Game 7, while the Blazers looked to close the series out on their home court. After failing to secure a rebound off a James Harden, Chandler Parsons put in a quick putback layup. The Blazers were down 2 points with .9 seconds left. Lillard got the ball off the inbounds pass and swished a three-pointer while fading away. Lillard then took the mic from Mark Mason and yelled, “RIPPP CITYYYYYYYY”. This win gave the Blazers their first playoff series win since 2000.
Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks Title Run
This finals run might be one of the most underrated runs of all time. The Mavericks beat the Portland Trail Blazers 4-2, swept the Los Angeles Lakers, and beat the OKC Thunder 4-2 en route to the finals against the Miami Heat. After losing Game 1, the Mavericks found themselves down 15 with just 8 minutes left in Game 2. However, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd brought the Mavericks back before Nowitzki hit a game tying layup and then with 26 seconds left hit a go ahead three pointer. With 3 seconds left, Nowitzki would get the better of Chris Bosh and finish a layup on an injured left hand, to tie the series at 1-1.
After going down 2-1, Dirk Nowitzki played game four with a 102 degree fever. Nowitzki fought through the fever and had the biggest bucket of the game; a layup with just under 20 seconds left, to give the Mavericks a three point lead. They then went on to win the next two games, beating the super team Miami Heat, in their first season together and gave the Mavericks their first ever title.
Lebron and Ray Allen Game 6 vs the San Antonio Spurs
After winning a ring in 2012, the Miami Heats’ dreams of repeating, looked slim as they got to the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. The Heat were down by double digits in the third quarter and every time they seemed to make a run, the Spurs would always respond. Going into the fourth quarter, where nobody outside of Mario Chalmers was playing well, Lebron flipped a switch.
He had 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer to cut the Spurs lead to two points with 20 seconds left. Wade did not play well and provided little help offensively in the fourth quarter. Then, the Heat were down three after Kawhi Leonard missed a free throw. Lebron had a chance to tie the game but he missed, but Bosh got the rebound and gave it to a backpedaling Ray Allen, who was in the corner, for a three-point shot. This shot propelled the game into overtime, which the Heat won, setting up a Game 7.
Kobe’s Fifth Ring
After losing to the Boston Celtics in 2008, Kobe had a chance to not only get revenge but get one step closer to his idol Michael Jordan. He would also have more rings than Shaquille O’Neal. This series between two rival teams was intense with only one game being a blowout in Game 6. In a closing Game 7, Kobe Bryant struggled shooting the ball but came in big with 15 rebounds.
Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol came in huge with 20 and 19 points respectively, with Gasol posting a monster double-double with 19 points and 18 rebounds. Kobe had monster scoring games with 30 points, 33 points, and 38 points with the latter two scoring performances, coming in losses. Kobe and company left it all on the court and they were rewarded when Sasha Vujacic hit two clutch free throws, to secure a 16th title for the Los Angeles Lakers and the fifth and final ring for Kobe Bryant.