By Brian Kalchik @RantsportsBrian on April 26, 2014
As the No. 1 seed in this year's NBA Playoffs, the Indiana Pacers went through some ugly moments this season in obtaining the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed. So far, the Pacers have struggled against the sub .500 Atlanta Hawks, and some have suggested that the Hawks could beat the Pacers.
But what are the 10 ugliest NBA Playoff letdowns of all-time? Letdowns here range from single games to some tremendous upsets, and a wild card as well.
Among many future first-round disappointments for Tracy McGrady, the 2003 playoffs were the worst. After taking a 3-1 series leading against the Detroit Pistons, McGrady and the Orlando Magic fell apart in that series, losing three consecutive games by an average of 20 points, and McGrady's first-round playoff woes officially began.
After winning Game 1 and Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets in the 1994 NBA Playoffs, the Seattle SuperSonics lost three consecutive games, including two in overtime. Seattle became the first team in NBA history to lose in the first-round as a 1-seed against an 8-seed.
The Orlando Magic were handling the defending champion Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals. Holding a late three-point lead, Nick Anderson missed four consecutive free throws that could have decided the game. Instead, the Rockets would tie and win the game in overtime, and the Magic would be swept by the Rockets.
This selection is the only one on this list that doesn't involve a particular player or coach, but the letdown was just as big. Down late in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat fans left the arena in droves after they felt their season was over. Instead, the Miami Heat would manage to tie the game against the San Antonio Spurs, and the fans who deserted demanded to get back into the arena. Fortunately, security would not let them in.
On paper, the 2004 NBA Finals would be remembered as a tremendous upset, as the Detroit Pistons defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in five games, but most truly feel that the Lakers would beat themselves. Dysfunctional all year, the Lakers, who featured four future Hall of Famers, only scored more than once in the series and were held to 80 points or less in three of the five games.
In Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals, with the New York Knicks holding a 3-2 series lead over the Houston Rockets, the Knicks' most polarizing player, John Starks, had arguably the worst game of his career. Starks shot 2-for-18 from the field, going 0-for-10 in the fourth quarter, and missed all 11 of his three-point attempts. The Knicks lost 90-84 and still have not won an NBA Title in over 40 years.
Game 4 of the 2009 NBA Western Conference First-Round was so pathetic for the New Orleans Hornets, that the only who showed up for that game were the cheerleaders. New Orleans was embarrassed on their home-court by the Denver Nuggets to the tune of a 121-63 loss. The 58-point loss was the biggest blowout loss in the NBA since 1956.
Coming off losing four straight in the 2006 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, the 2007 Dallas Mavericks were the No. 1 seed that year with a 67-win campaign. The Golden State Warriors, on the other hand, only won 42 regular season games, but stunned the defending Western Conference Champions in six games. Dallas lost three of those games by double-digits, and were blown out in Game 6 by 25 points.
Much like the New Orleans Hornets in 2009, the 1998 Utah Jazz had an incredibly pathetic playoff performance, this time in the NBA Finals. This series would turn out to be one of the best in recent memory, but in Game 3, the Jazz set a record-low in points scored in a 96-54 blowout loss. The 42-point loss is still the biggest blowout in NBA Finals history.
After losing the 1993 NBA Finals to the Chicago Bulls, the Phoenix Suns were trying to get back to the NBA Finals. In the 1994 Western Conference Semifinals, the Suns held a 2-0 series lead against the Houston Rockets, but proceeded to lose four of the next five games to be eliminated.
In 1995, the same matchup occurred, but the Suns held a 3-1 series lead. The Suns lost three straight, including Mario Elie's kiss of death shot in Game 7.
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