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Ranking the Top 10 Biggest Chokes in NBA History

biggest chokes in nba

Imagine your favourite team showcasing a massively successful performance throughout a tournament. A sudden turn of events during an important phase, leads to a disastrous conclusion of your team getting defeated. It is like in a battle between a lion and a deer, the latter turns out to be the winner. 

No one would ever think of such a phenomenon in their weirdest dreams. The simplest way to make a meaningful forecast would be to check the playorbet casino for each game your favorite team plays. However, this happens to a strong team. Is it not excruciatingly painful to witness?

In NBA such encounters take place in abundance. A team delivers exceptional performance throughout the season. During the most important phase, a sudden lack in coordination or performance causes the game or series to completely flip in favour of the weaker team. 

Let us now take look at some of the moments where we learn about the biggest NBA chokes of all time.

#10. Chicago Bulls, 2011 Eastern Conference Finals

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Finishing the regular season with a 62-60-win loss margin, the Bulls sealed their first spot in the Eastern Conference Finals since 1998. Charged with the power and vigor of rising star Derrick Rose, it was destined to be a walk in the park for the boys in red.

However, often things don’t happen the way we want them to. The Heats, playing their best basketball in this series successfully choked the raging Bulls from moving any forward in the competition. Honestly, I will not deny, Rose put up quite a fight with extreme vigor and acrobatics straight from the Olympics. However, that wasn’t enough to scare or even budge the star-studded line up of the Heats who pulled off one of the biggest chokes in NBA. Playing in their home ground, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James pumped up the crowd with those huge slams and powerful blocks.

The Bulls bagged an early win with Derrick Rose flying around the court in Quicken Loans Arena in the first game. However, the Wade and James iconic duo planned to tear apart the Bulls defence at their home ground. Sticking to their word, they drilled through the Bulls for the next 4 games unless they had kicked Chicago out of the Championship.

The Bulls had the chance of winning Game 6 and forcing a 7th. Even though they played well in the first three-quarters of Game 6 gaining a 12-point lead, they couldn’t hold onto it. The last 4 minutes of the game was a complete Wade Carnival with James and him flying about the Arena. The momentum had somehow vanished from the Bulls dugout. Though their play was on point, it was just not their night. We can’t term this as choking, this is absolute annihilation.

#9. Washington Bullets, 1975 NBA Finals

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This is debatable, the ‘first choke’ in NBA history. The Bullets had established a striking win record in the regular season and were looking forward to winning the title altogether. Boasting of future Hall of Famers Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, the bullets looked confident and determinant. However, Rick Barry led Golden State Warriors had some other plans altogether.

How many times have you faced a situation where you had no clue as to what exactly hit you? In perspective, this was exactly the state of The Bullets back in the day. Their fantastic form with Unseld as the formidable center was ripped off and distributed in the crowd assimilated.

The raucous crowd had gone numb as the Warriors broke apart the Bullets, an absolute devastation. Rick Barry along with the entire squad was toying with 1st seeder Bullets. As an answer to the confused Bullets, a warrior’s fan wrote on a poster, “God is a Warriors fan.”

In spite of securing a decent lead of 16 and 13 points in the first two games respectively, the Warriors snatched victory away from the boys from the capital. It is embarrassing to see Wes Unseld toyed around by Rick Barry around the three-pointer line. Barry was undoubtedly awarded Finals MVP with 35 points per game. The Warriors established the thought that no team is undefeatable by sweeping of the Bullets 4-0.

#8. Portland Trail Blazers, 2000 Western Conference Finals

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This game brought the ultimate party to town. Promising a cracking face-off between Kobe and Pippen, no seat was vacant at the Staples Center. The fans had come out in support of their local star, Kobe Bryant and star Center, Shaquille O’Neal. The Portland Blazers, treading ahead with a comfortable season were determined to make it to the Finals and Pippen one of the most underrated players in the NBA was determined for his next ring.

Off to a comfortable win in the first match, the next three just saw Shaq and Bryant along with Fisher, a dominant trio in the NBA slamming it through the net. They were just unstoppable. Things got worse by the fourth game as the Lakers had secured a 3-1 Lead by then. However, the Bulls were successful at pushing for Game 6 and also Game 7 only to face more humiliation.

It was sad to witness Michael Jordan’s teammate, Pippen getting blasted in such a manner. Kobe and Shaq were not the only players flying. As a matter of fact, all you could see was yellow shirts jumping all over the place slamming one here, dunking another one there. The historic Alley-Oop by Shaq and Kobe featured in the last 40 minutes of this game sealing it for the Lakers. Though Rasheed Wallace played remarkably, the confidence that Pippen had in the first game, was all washed off by the 7th.

#7. Los Angeles Clippers, 2015 Western Conference Semifinals

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With Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the same line-up, this Clippers team was set for glory. However, glory is achieved through regular efforts, not periodic, and that is something Harden led Rockets understood well.

There isn’t much to talk about besides the scoreboard reading 4-3. It is just another story of “I don’t know what hit us”. Game 6 and game 7 were conducted with the sole purpose of humiliating the season leaders Clippers. A dead silence grasped the Staples Center as the Rockets toyed around with the Clippers leading to a 12-point win in game 6.

Game 7 was a James Harden show to which all of Houston was invited. A one-man performance entirely with Houston maintaining a comfortable 20-point lead almost throughout the game, seal the series 4-3. Though the Clippers tried their level best to hold on to the last few lines of hope, Harden’s slams just add salt to the wounds.

#6. Dallas Mavericks, 2006 NBA Finals

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The Mavericks were very confident after topping the season seeds. With aspirations to win the title, they played their best game of the year. However, you can’t help the fact that the rivals play a game far better than your best.

The Miami Heats charged with the energy of a younger Dwayne Wade and star center Shaquille O’ Neal along with Payton make the scariest line up in this list of biggest chokes in NBA History. If you give him the opportunity, then there is no stopping Wade.

O’ Neal, one of the tallest and best centers in the game was not to be guarded. If you had Shaq Attack coming your way, you either make way or face the consequences. Squandering off a comfortable 2-0 at the beginning of the third game, the Mavs had crawled down to a 3-2 by the start of the 6th game. However, there was no going back and all that lay ahead was defeat and dejection.

The series had no game 7 with the Heats winning the Championship by the sixth game, resulting in a scoreline 4-2. Not to forget, Alonso Mourning’s cracking defence in the game 6 that led to the crucial blocks. However, before mentioning anything else, Wade’s performance deserves a standing ovation.

#5. Oklahoma City Thunder, 2016 Western Conference Finals

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Featuring in the list a second time, Steph Curry’s Warriors have choked various teams at crucial stages in the Championship. Here is the iconic face-off between Steph Curry and legend Kevin Durant landing it in this list of biggest chokes in NBA history. This Playoff series not only had pure B-balling action but also a lot of drama like the brawl between Draymond Green and Steven Adams and also Kevin Durant’s last plays for OKC.

The OKC got off to a very promising start winning the first 3 games. However, they seemed to have lost that inspiration somewhere while traveling and never managed to get it back. They lost the last 4 matches to a Warriors team dominated by Clay Thompson and Stephen Curry, one of the most efficient point guards in the NBA. Though game 6 was shared effort of these two, to seal a tie against the OKC forcing game 7, the story was something else.

Game 7 in these series was a three-pointer fair from Curry and humiliation for the OKC amidst the crowd at the Oracle Arena.  Warriors maintained a proper lead of 10 points almost all throughout. The growing frustration was evident in the OKC players visible fighting among each other building to another biggest chokes in NBA History.  The game 6 and 7 have been won at close and tight final moments by the crucial clutch points grabbed by either Curry or Thompson and has been iconic since then. Such a nail-biting finish is what I aspire in an NBA game.

#4. Miami Heat, 2011 NBA Finals

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This series of playoffs was an unbearable blow to the career of many great players like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Lined up as the Big Three against simple Mavericks, this series was supposed to be a walk in the garden for the Heats. However, fortune favors the brave.

Star Maverick, Dirk Nowitzki was a talent waiting to unleash and what better opportunity than this to let yourself become free. The Heats were left to wonder what hit them. After taking on and kicking the Chicago Bulls out of the Championship, they faced one of the most humiliating defeats of their career. Dirk Nowitzki pulling of those crucial three pointers and Terry pulling back the mavericks in the 3 quarter of game 6 led them to be the Champions of NBA in 2011.

What is further a slap to the face is the crushing manner of the defeat where the Heats couldn’t even force a 7th Game with the Mavs winning it 4-2. These are an explanation that no team is undefeatable and if you are dedicated enough, nothing can stop you from getting to your goal. Underdogs to Champions, the Mavericks had climbed a long way and indefinitely deserved it.

#3. Dallas Mavericks, 2007 First Round

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This playoff game didn’t have the good fortune of having a nail-biting game 7. It was rather a comfortable walk in the park for season underdogs, Golden State Warriors. The Dallas Mavericks looked quite promising until they faced the Golden State Warriors in the first-round playoffs of NBA.

Baron Davis shone with marvelous numbers with 33 points 14 rebounds and 8 assists all throughout. With such a contribution, Warriors comfortably win their third game against the Mavericks. Though Dallas had bought the momentum at the beginning, once lost it never dawned back on them.

The 5th and 6th matches had been three pointer practices for the Davis Jackson Duo as the Mavs were left clueless. The Warriors electrified the roaring Oracle Arena and battered the visitors hard in their home ground. Warriors pulled off this huge choke in NBA, setting an example to all watching that the warriors are on their way to be a great team in the future.

#2. Seattle Supersonics, 1994 First Round

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Back in the day, there was no 7 game playoff series. On the contrary, it was a 5 game playoff keeping the rules of most wins in account. Though the sonics started off to a flying start, they soon lagged off and by the time the hour of clutch came, were ineffective.

The Nuggets came as the most unexpected shock to the extremely promising sonics of 94’. Winning their first two home games, Sonics grabbed an early lead in the series. They traveled to the capital expecting a massacre. However, the nuggets waged a war. As the nuggets won their two home games and came to Seattle for the final match, the momentum was in their favor. Already under immense stress, the sonics squandered off a sure win, and the Nuggets qualified to the next round. The nuggets became the first such team to be an 8th seed team but to have defeated a 1st seed team at the NBA playoffs.

#1. Golden State Warriors, 2016 NBA Finals

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This is undoubtedly the biggest Choke in NBA history. The wounds from this on any Warrior fan are so fresh that it would still cause pain reading about it. The epic James Curry rivalry at last. Let me make it clear now, Cleveland Cavaliers had a far better team than the Warriors. Honestly, Warriors should work as a team and not a single unit one-man show team.

Qualifying with a record 73 wins, the warriors underestimated the Cavaliers. The price they paid was heavy. You cannot keep scoring for three-pointers. You would have to infiltrate and drill through the defence. Though Curry and Thompson rendered splendid form, they never could grab those crucial clutch points.

The fantastic blocks by LB James and the agility of Irving near the basket made a deadly combination. To add a cherry on that cake JR Smith kept hammering the three-pointers in. Though the game was close with both teams biting each other off, Stephen Curry failed to jam a long three pointer from Irving and also failed to grab the last-minute opportunity of the clutch, gifting the championship to the Cavaliers. The Warriors lost the finals to the cavaliers 4-3 landing it to be the biggest choke in NBA History.

It isn’t surprising to see an underdog ‘rise from the ashes and grab glory.’ The dedication and discipline within the game is what makes the greatest teams, the greatest players, not numbers. If an entire team plays as one, you are bound to get results, be it the first seed team or the last seed team.

Did I miss a game? Do let me know in the comments and I’ll be glad to get back to you.

Till then, keep balling.

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