The 60 Greatest Playoff Moments: Honorable Mention
Which moments received votes but missed out on being ranked among the Top 60? Check out the 60 Greatest Playoff Moments Honorable Mention List presented in chronological order.
The packed Philadelphia Arena crowd had come to see their Warriors begin their march to the franchise's first title, and they didn't go home disappointed in Game 1 thanks to star scorer, Joe Fulks. In what was described as "the greatest shooting exhibition ever seen on the arena floor," Fulks poured in 37 points - 29 in the second half - as Philadelphia built on the momentum of its 14-point halftime lead over Chicago and never looked back to gain the series opening victory. Six days later, the Warriors would be champions as Fulks scored 34 in the clincher.
Looking to continue its championship series success from from a year earlier, Minneapolis trailed 66-64 heading into the closing minute - despite George Mikan's 37 points - before soon-to-be Minnesota Viking coach Bud Grant tied the game on a hook shot. As the clock ticked down, Syracuse's Al Cervi took the game into his own hands, only to be turned away by Mikan on a drive to the hoop - a questionable non-call in Cervi's eyes. Rushing upcourt the rookie out of Michigan, Bob Harrison, heaved a 40-footer which dropped through at the buzzer giving Minneapolis the victory.
Finding themselves in a similar situation to 1950, Syracuse was once again involved in a tight game with Minneapolis that would be decided in the final seconds, only this time with the roles reversed. Trailing by two points, George Mikan knotted the game at 60 with 18 seconds remaining. Syracuse rushed upcourt looking to win the game and with seven seconds left, Paul Seymour swished a set shot from 43-feet out for the victory. The playoff loss by the Lakers was their first in seven seasons in the Minneapolis Auditorium.
The Celtics won their second consecutive title, thanks to Bill Russell, who scored 22 points and grabbed 35 rebounds vs. the St. Louis Hawks.
Sam Jones’ Game Winner; Game 7, 1962 Eastern Conference Finals
Facing a Warriors team that featured Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged 50.4 ppg that season, Boston and Philadelphia alternated wins through the first six games of this series. In the end, Sam Jones hits a jump shot with two seconds left to lift the Celtics, who did not feature one player in the top 10 in scoring, over Philadelphia, 109-107.
When you win nine NBA titles, it is hard to critique the job done by the coach. For legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach, though, his final championship win may have been his best. Taking a Celtics team that hadn't won its division for the first time in a decade, and leading them past a Sixers team that they had lost to six of ten times in the regular season 4-1 in the Eastern Finals should have been enough. However, with Auerbach having stated that the 1966 season would be his last and an announcement after their Game 1 loss that Bill Russell would take over the team the following year, the Celts bounced back to win the title in seven games. "It was a great way to go out," said Auerbach.
The Philadelphia 76ers rolled to a then-record 68 regular-season wins, but this was the Finals and San Francisco Warriors forward Rick Barry showed no fear. The league's scoring leader poured in the second-best scoring performance in Finals history with 55 points to lead the Warriors to a Game 3 win. The Sixers would go on to win the series in six games.
Wilt Chamberlain grabs eight boards and blocks six shots in the fourth quarter of the series-clinching Game 6 win against San Francisco. Chamberlain averaged 28.5 rebounds for the series. The championship capped an unforgettable season in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 45 of its first 49 games and romped to a 68-13 regular season record, at the time the best in NBA history.
With a little more than eight minutes gone in the first quarter of Game 5, Los Angeles had raced to a 25-15 lead. Then Willis Reed caught a pass at the foul line, and Wilt Chamberlain was there to meet him. Reed went to his left around Wilt but tripped over Wilt's foot and fell forward, tearing a large muscle in his leg. The New York center lay writhing in pain as the action raced the other way and Knicks coach Red Holzman screamed for the refs to stop the game. Reed was out and the Lakers seemed almost possessed by the notion of taking advantage of the mismatch in the post. Time after time, they attempted to force the ball into Chamberlain, and the Knicks got several steals and forced turnovers. The fourth period opened with the Lakers holding an 82-75 lead but in obvious disarray. And the Knickerbockers were surging, cheered on by the awakened Garden crowd. After a brief flurry, the Knicks took the game, 107-100, and the series edge, 3-2. Los Angeles had been forced into an incredible 30 turnovers for the game. In the second half, Jerry West didn't have a field goal and Chamberlain scored only four points, despite being guarded by much shorter players such as Dave DeBusschere and Dave Stallworth. "The fifth game," DeBusschere said proudly 20 years later, "was one of the greatest basketball games ever played."
Miracle of Richfield; 1976 Eastern Conference Semifinals
In the 1975-1976 season, with Austin Carr, Bingo Smith, Jim Chones, Dick Snyder, and newly acquired Nate Thurmond, Fitch led the Cavs to a 49-33 record, which was the best record in the Central Division. He received the league's Coach of the Year award as the Cavs made their first-ever playoff appearance. The Cavs won the series against the Washington Bullets, 4-3. Because of the many heroics and last-second shots, the series became known locally as the "Miracle of Richfield." However, hampered by injuries, particularly to Jim Chones, the Cavs proceeded to lose to the Boston Celtics in Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA playoffs.
‘Fat Lady’ Sings Victorious Tune For Bullets; Game 7, 1978 NBA Finals
After defeating the Atlanta Hawks and the San Antonio Spurs in the early going, Washington met the favored Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals and upset them. Along the way, Motta took to reciting a favorite phrase of his: "The opera isn't over 'til the fat lady sings." Each time things got tight and the writers predicted doom, Motta told them to wait for the fat lady. The NBA Finals had the most unexpected of participants. The Bullets, who had finished in third place in their conference, faced the Seattle SuperSonics, who had finished in fourth place in theirs. After a thrilling six-game series, the Bullets ended up defeating the Sonics in Game 7, 105-99. It was the first Sonics loss for the first time in 21 games on their home floor as the Bullets captured their first and only title.
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