Most analysts picked the Miami Heat to win this series, but how surprised would you be if the Indiana Pacers won today?
With only a few hours left until Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals we take a look back at a true David Vs. Goliath matchup and one of the greatest upsets in recent NBA history.
2004 NBA Finals – Los Angeles Lakers Vs. Detroit Pistons.
Two years after winning three NBA Championships in a row, the Los Angeles Lakers were again heavy favourites coming into the 2003-2004 season. They had just signed two future Hall of Famers – Karl Malone and Gary Payton, to pair with existing superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant for the sole purpose of winning another championship ring. Surely no one could beat this All-Star team in the playoffs, right?
Their opponents in that year’s NBA Finals were the Detroit Pistons. If you mention names like Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace & Ben Wallace to the casual NBA fan, they would stand there scratching their heads. Now combine that with the words ‘defense’ and ‘low-scoring’ and it is enough for them to turn their TVs off.
Heading into the Finals, experts predicted that the star-studded, high-scoring, NBA-iconic Lakers would put a beat-down on the Detroit Pistons squad that was filled with unwanted players and misfits. Boy, were they wrong.
From the first tip-off, Detroit’s game-plan was to play as a team and suffocate their opponent with blanketing defense. In Game 1 of the best-of–7 series, Shaq and Kobe did most of the heavy lifting combining for 59 of the Laker’s 75 points. Their teammates, however, were limited to a total of 16 points on their home floor on their way to giving up home-court advantage to the Pistons, 87-75.
In Game 2 (again played in LA), Kobe Bryant hit an impossible 3-pointer over the out-stretched arms of Richard Hamilton, 30-feet away from the basket to force overtime. The Lakers prevailed, final score: 99-91.
The next few games were in Detroit where the series would end and the Pistons would pulverize the Lakers: Game 3 – 88-68, Game 4 – 88-80, Game 5 – 100-87. No one saw this coming. NO ONE. The loss would put the Lakers’ dynasty to an end. Karl Malone would retire, Gary Payton and Shaq were traded and Phil Jackson took a one-year leave of absence.
So, can the Indiana Pacers upset the juggernauts and ruin the Heat’s chances of back-to-back NBA Championships? Who doesn’t want to see the underdog triumph against all odds?
I know I do.
- 2007 Western Conference Playoffs: No. 8 seed Golden State Warriors knocked off the No. 1 seed Dallas Mavericks (67-15).
- 1999 NBA Playoffs: No. 8 seed New York Knicks beat the No. 1 seed Miami Heat. Knicks would eventually make it all the way to the NBA Finals where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHM1HgL_VcA