What’s the lowest seed to ever win the NBA Finals? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Miami Heat almost had their season ended in the Play-In Tournament.
Now, they’re in the NBA Finals.
Entering the playoffs as the East’s eighth seed, Miami bounced the No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks in five games to become just the sixth No. 8 seed to make it out of Round 1. Jimmy Butler and Co. then disposed of the No. 5 New York Knicks in six games before grabbing a 3-0 series lead over the No. 2 Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. After dropping three straight to Boston, Miami avoided going down in infamy by taking Game 7 on the road.
All of the sudden, a Heat squad that went 44-38 in the regular season is just a few wins over Nikola Jokic and the No. 1 Denver Nuggets away from a title. The Heat upset the Nuggets 111-108 on the road in Game 2 of the NBA Finals to even the series at 1-1.
That puts them three wins away from the most improbable championship triumph in NBA history.
Has a No. 8 seed ever won the NBA Finals?
Since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984, no eight-seed has ever won the NBA championship.
What’s the lowest-seeded team to ever reach the NBA Finals?
The Heat, however, are not the first eight-seed to reach the Finals. In the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, the Knicks went 27-23 to grab the East’s eighth and final playoff spot. In a win-or-go-home Game 5 against No. 1 Miami in Round 1, Allan Houston hit a go-ahead shot with under one second remaining to push the Knicks into the conference semifinals.
Patrick Ewing and Co. met the No. 4 Atlanta Hawks in the second round and rolled to a four-game sweep. Then, in a conference finals where five of the six games were decided by single digits, the Knicks defeated the Reggie Miller-led Indiana Pacers to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals.
The 1998-99 Knicks and this year’s Heat are the only No. 8 seeds to advance beyond Round 2.
What’s the lowest-seeded team to ever win the NBA Finals?
The 1994-95 Houston Rockets stand as the lowest-seeded team to ever win the NBA Finals. At least for now.
As the reigning NBA champions, Houston entered the 1995 postseason as a No. 6 seed following a 47-35 regular season. The Rockets went the distance with their opponent in each of the first two playoff rounds, first beating the No. 3 Utah Jazz in five games and then the No. 2 Phoenix Suns in seven games.
Hakeem Olajuwon and Co. actually came back from a 3-1 deficit against Charles Barkley and the Suns. The second-round triumph was capped by a one-point road win in Game 7, where Mario Elie drilled a tie-breaking 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds that became known as the “Kiss of Death.”
After splitting the first two games in the West Finals versus San Antonio, Houston took Games 5 and 6 to make it back to a second consecutive NBA Finals. The Rockets beat the Knicks in seven games the prior year, and this time they were matched up with Shaquille O’Neal’s Orlando Magic.
Hakeem got the better of Shaq in the series, powering the Rockets to a sweep and a historic repeat.