Okay, everybody. It’s time to start taking the Oklahoma City Thunder VERY seriously.
I know, I know, they’ve been “contenders” all season. The last time they were “healthy” they went to the NBA Finals. But that was four years ago and with James Harden as a sixth man.
We’ve been salivating over a Western Conference Finals that features the Spurs and Warriors since Christmas. So after watching Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and co. dominate … yes, they dominated the Spurs, and then spark a double-digit comeback in Game 1 of the WCF in Oakland, I’m legitimately impressed. And you’re lying if you say you saw this coming.
With that said, OKC hasn’t accomplished its goal. That’d obviously be a championship. But if the Thunder were to even just make it to the Finals and lose, knocking off the Spurs and Warriors to get there would still be one of the most impressive playoff runs we’ve seen.
Here are some of the most shocking playoff runs we’ve seen.
1995 Orlando Magic/Houston Rockets
The 1995 Magic are complicated, but stick with me. Michael Jordan only lost one playoff series in the ’90’s — to Shaq, Penny and the ’95 Magic. That’s impressive enough in my mind to have a powerhouse team on this list. Ultimately Orlando was upset in the Finals by the Rockets, who were the 6-seed out West. A couple of really impressive runs.
2007 Colorado Rockies
The Rockies were swept in the World Series by a dominant Red Sox team, but they arrived on the big stage in incredible fashion. Colorado wasn’t even supposed to sniff its way into the postseason, but won 14 of its last 15 games just to force a one-game playoff with the Padres for the NL Wild Card berth. The Rockies won the game 9-8 in a 13-inning nail biter and then swept their way into the World Series in seven games.
2011 Dallas Mavericks
Dallas was the 3-seed in the West this year and got very overlooked. The Spurs finished with the best record in the conference, the defending champion Lakers were right behind them and even the young and upcoming Thunder were considered a threat. However, the Mavs made it into the Finals after an impressive run, and then did the unthinkable by knocking off the Heat in the first year of the super team of LeBron/Wade/Bosh.
2012 Los Angeles Kings
I’ll admit, I don’t know much about hockey. Is winning the Stanley Cup as an 8-seed good? This is kind of one of those things that doesn’t happen in any other sport. Get hot at the right time in the NHL and you can beat anybody. During the regular season this team had 3 head coaches and got shutout a league high 10 times…
2001 Arizona Diamondbacks
Talk about immediate success. In their fourth season the Diamondbacks made it all the way to the World Series behind Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, while Louis Gonzalez bashed 57 home runs. Their magical run was supposed to come to a halt when they met the mighty Yankees though. Instead we got a classic series that went to Game 7 and finished with Gonzalez’s improbable walk off against Mariano Rivera.
2004 Detroit Pistons
Only four teams finished over .500 in the East this season (yikes), but the Pacers finished seven games ahead of the Pistons and were favored to go to the Finals. Once the well-rounded Pistons completed the mild upset of winning the East, they became insane underdogs against the Lakers — who added Gary Payton and Karl Malone to their one-two punch of Shaq and Kobe. Detroit went on to shock everyone, winning the series in five games. BALL DON’T LIE!
2003 Florida Marlins
It doesn’t get more magical than the Marlins run back in 2003. They finished the season 10 games back from the Braves in the NL East, but wound up avoiding them in the playoffs. Florida did, however, have to square off with the defending NL champion Giants in the first-round. Florida won the series on a play at the plate, which was the first time that ever happened. Then the Marlins beat the Cubs in the NLCS after being down 3-2. Like the Diamondbacks, many felt the Marlins had no chance to beat the Yankees, which they went on to do in six games.
1999 New York Knicks
8-seed’s don’t win championships in the NBA. They don’t even make playoff runs and hardly ever win a series unless a crucial injury occurs. Not this year though. The Knicks shocked the top-seeded Heat on Allan Houston’s game winner, sparking a run all the way to the Finals. Tim Duncan and the Spurs brought New York’s run to an end, but it’s hard to even imagine an 8-seed making a run like this in today’s NBA.
2007 New York Giants
The Giants practically missed the playoffs this season, but were able to turn a win on Wild Card weekend into an improbable run to the Super Bowl. Awesome season! A Super Bowl appearance and an obvious loss to the undefeated Patriots! Except that the Giants won the game because a football stuck to a no-name receiver’s helmet while being hit by one of the greatest safeties of all-time after Eli Manning should have been sacked. I’m a Patriots fan by the way.
2004 Boston Red Sox
This Red Sox team was incredibly good, but they just could never get over the hump that was the Yankees. Once Boston got down 0-3 in the series, it was over. No team ever gets the type of momentum swing that leads to four wins in a row. Then the Red Sox did and shocked the world in the process — not only to win the four games but because of the famous Curse of the Bambino. This was the opposite of the Patriots losing the Super Bowl, and it was AWESOME.
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