The Atlanta Hawks are one win from knocking out the Pacers, the Eastern Conference’s top seed. If successful tonight at home, or in a potential Game 7 in Indiana on Saturday, they’ll become just the sixth No. 8 seed in NBA history to advance to the next round. Here’s a look at the five teams that managed to pull it off.
Denver’s series started like many other 1-8 matchups of the past, with the 63-win SuperSonics taking the first two games in Seattle. But those were the last wins Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton and company earned that year as Dikembe Mutombo blocked 22 shots over the next three games to help the Nuggets make history in the five-game series. They even gave the
Jazz a seven-game fight en route to losing in the next round.
A season after becoming the first No. 7 seed to win a series in nine years, Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell and Patrick Ewing teamed up to knock out the rival Heat in a best-of-five series. But the Knicks weren’t done; they swept Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinals and ousted their other contemporary rivals, the Pacers, in six to become the most successful No. 8 seed in NBA history. However, in the finals, they lost to the Spurs in five games.
Tasked with taking on the reigning Western Conference champion Mavericks, Golden State received big-time scoring from the trio of Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson and Jason Richardson, who combined to average 67.3 points per game in the series. They proved too much to handle for the mighty Mavs — winners of 67 regular-season games — and eliminated Dallas, 4-2. The Jazz would bounce the Warriors in the next round.
The franchise had yet to win a single postseason game in 12 tries since it’s debut in Vancouver in 1995. Now calling Memphis home, few expected the Grizz to be little more than an annoyance to Tim Duncan’s Spurs. Thanks to big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, the franchise pulled off a shocker, winning the series 4-2. They pushed the Thunder to seven games before falling short in the next round, but have since beaten Oklahoma City in the 2013 playoffs and are now one win from repeating the feat as a No. 7 seed this season.
Derrick Rose and the Bulls were cruising to a Game 1 victory when the 2011 MVP suffered a torn ACL, an injury that continues to dramatically alter his career. With Chicago missing its star, Jrue Holiday and the 76ers pounced. The young point guard led the way with 18.2 points per game in the series to help Philadelphia win four of the next five and the series. Philly even pushed the Celtics to seven games in the next round before losing.