Greatest NBA Playoff Series That Never Happened
Best matchups we never saw.
You may also like: NBA's Most Underrated Players 2012 Edition
One of my favorite things about sports is the debate. I constantly try to simulate games between great teams in my head. Perhaps, it is part of my Rain Man like OCD for basketball. With this in-depth list, my goal is to make you all wonder what could have been.
I am not going to debate what would happen between the 1972 Lakers and the 1996 Bulls. That is an article for another time. Instead, I want to discuss teams that played in the same era , but never met in the playoffs. Basically, the matchups we missed out on as fans.
With all the injuries in the 2012 NBA Playoffs that have virtually watered down the Eastern Conference, I got to thinking "please don't rob me of OKC versus the Spurs in the West." I have been dying to see that series and we were robbed of it last year with Memphis beating the Spurs.
It makes you think how many other great series have we missed out on for one reason or another of teams that played during the same time.
So let's get to it...
7) The Reggie Miller Indiana Pacers vs. The Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway Miami Heat
The Pacers were a staple of the Eastern Conference in the '90s, led by Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, the Davis boys, and Mark Jackson. They were constantly a thorn in the side of everyone in the East. They appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, and 2000. They were a great defensive team that rebounded and made big plays down the stretch of games. Reggie Miller was a different animal come playoff time.
When Shaquille O'Neal left Orlando aka Disney world for Tinsel Town, the state of Florida lost an Eastern Conference powerhouse. However, it gained one right back in 1997 with the Miami Heat. To this day, the '97 Heat hold the franchise record for the team's best single season record. They finished 61-21 with the likes of Tim Hardaway, Voshon Lenard, Jamal Mashburn, P.J. Brown, and Alonzo Mourning. Oh, did I mention they were coached by Pat Riley?
The Heat were another tough minded defensive team that fit right in with the Bulls, Knicks, and Pacers. The Heat much like the Pacers, would have their run-ins with the Bulls and plenty as well with the Knicks, but they never encountered the Pacers come playoff time. In fact, the Knicks robbed us of this series on three different occasions. In 1998, the third seeded Heat would be upset by the seventh-seeded Knicks in the first round--setting the stage for a Knicks-Pacers. In 1999, the Knicks on the infamous Allan Houston shot that bounced in, ended the Heat's season again when that team was the no. one seed.
Finally in 2000, the Heat lost a Game 7 at home by one point. If the Heat won, that would have given us Pacers versus Heat. There are lots of similarities in styles between these two teams that would have made for a grind of a series. For me I would debate that Miller's late game abilities and the Heat's failure to win in big spots would be the death of them, but either way, it would have been interesting to see at least once.
6) The '76 Golden State Warriors vs The '76 Boston Celtics
This one is really unique because there seemed to be just one really good chance of it happening. It kind of goes under the radar of basketball history. It began in 1975, when the Warriors would have an improbable run to win the championship in a sweep over the heavily-favored Elvin Hayes-led Washington Bullets. The Warriors came into the 1976 season riding high as defending champs and they had a better team equipped to repeat. Rick Barry, Phil Smith, and Clifford Ray were now joined by Rookie of the Year Jamaal Wilkes, Gus Williams and a much deeper team. The Warriors finished 59-23, which was a huge deal in '70s--the decade of the most NBA parity.