Has a No. 8 Seed Ever Reached the NBA Finals?
On Tuesday, April 11, things didn’t look so hot for the Miami Heat. In the opening round of the NBA’s play-in tourney, the Heat, seeded seventh in the Eastern Conference, hosted the No. 8 Atlanta Hawks and were dismantled in front of their home crowd, falling 116-105. In a do-or-die home game three nights later, the Heat rallied from a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls to pull out a 102-91 victory.
The win earned Miami the No. 8 seed in the postseason and a date with the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat shocked the world, taking care of the heavily-favored Bucks in five games. Miami then went into hostile Madison Square Garden on Sunday and took down the favored New York Knicks in Game 1 of the conference semifinals. It begs the question: Has a No. 8 seed ever reached the NBA Finals?
The Miami Heat look like anything but a No. 8 seed
Yes, the Heat caught a bit of a break when Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo went down with a back injury in their series opener. Miami wasn’t without injury in Game 1 as Tyler Herro left with a broken wrist, but the Heat pulled out a 130-117 victory.
Without Antetokounmpo in Game 2, the Bucks stepped up and cruised to a 138-122 victory to even the series. That was the last game the Bucks won.
In Game 3, still without the Greek Freak, Milwaukee was trounced 121-99, and then dropped a 119-114 decision in Game 4, despite his return. Jimmy Butler did the damage for Miami, torching the Bucks for 56 points in the Game 4 win.
Despite being a significant underdog on the road in Game 5, Butler and the Heat stepped up. Miami rallied from a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter to shock the Bucks. Butler’s layup with one second left in regulation sent the game into overtime. Miami won 128-126 to send Milwaukee packing.
The Heat didn’t stop there.
On Sunday, Miami headed into New York as a four-point underdog. They trailed 32-21 after one quarter, but rallied once again. The Heat outscored the Knicks 31-20 in the third quarter to turn a five-point halftime deficit into a six-point lead and went on to win 108-101.
Has a No. 8 seed ever made it to the NBA Finals?
Miami might not be the typical No. 8 seed. A year ago, they were the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The second-seeded Boston Celtics ousted them in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Butler is a star who rises to the occasion. When the lights are at their brightest, he is at his best. Miami is a dangerous team that could make some noise in the playoffs. What are the chances of a No. 8 seed reaching the NBA Finals?
According to NBC Sports Boston, only one No. 8 seed has reached the NBA Finals. In fact, only one No. 8 seed has ever been past the second round.
In the lockout-shortened season in 1998-99, the Knicks finished 27-23 to lock up the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and a date with the top-seeded Heat. New York made a statement in Game 1, earning a 20-point win on the road. The best-of-five series was decided in Game 5 when Allan Houston hit a runner down the lane with one second remaining to give the Knicks a 78-77 victory.
The Knicks then swept the Atlanta Hawks in the conference semifinals before knocking off Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Knicks finally met their match in the championship round, where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in five games.
With the way they’ve been playing lately, the Miami Heat could be another No. 8 seed to make a legitimate title run.