Top 10 Best NBA Playoff Series of the Decade

Posted on May 10, 2018
By Ramzi Maducdoc
          The NBA has had some absolutely riveting playoff series in the last several years. To honor them and the NBA playoffs this month, I will be counting down the top ten best playoff series 2011 onwards.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers vs Chicago Bulls 2015 EC Second Round (CLE wins 4-2)
          This early Eastern Conference clash between the gritty Chicago Bulls and the superstar powered Cleveland Cavaliers proved to be a more entertaining and competitive series than one would have initially thought. When the Bulls took a 2-1 series lead through a Derrick Rose game winner, the Bulls carried their momentum and put together a convincing performance the next few games. Although the Bulls would go on to lose the following three games, games four and five really could have gone either way. Both games were decided in the final minute and with very few point differentials. Had just a few more threes fell in the favor of Chicago, it is very possible that they could have won the series and maybe even ended up in the finals that year.
9. Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat 2011 NBA Finals (DAL wins 4-2)
          The Miami Heat’s first appearance in the NBA finals under their big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh ended up a disaster after the unfavored Dallas Mavericks caught on fire at just the right time. Led by 2007 MVP Dirk Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks systematically outplayed the supremely talented Heat through teamwork and veteran experience. LeBron James’ struggles also played a part in the Heat’s downfall, with James averaging 17.8 points while playing 43 minutes a game, the least of the big three that he was supposed to be the leader of.
8. Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs 2015 WC First Round (LAC Wins 4-3)
          When the reigning NBA Champions San Antonio Spurs and consistently disappointing Los Angeles Clippers faced off in the first round of the playoffs in 2015, the reigning champions were reasonably favored to win. Even though they were slightly lackluster in the regular season, finishing sixth in the west after winning the championship the previous year, the Spurs were still the Spurs, the absolute pinnacle of consistency in basketball. The Clippers and Spurs exchanged game after game, until it came to an all-or-nothing game seven in Staples Center. With the game tied 109-109, Chris Paul drove to the basket and hit a floater over Tim Duncan to put the Clippers up two with one second left, ultimately winning them the series.
7. Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics 2012 EC Finals (MIA wins 4-3)
          With his legacy on the line and down 3-2, LeBron James went lights out in both elimination games against his Eastern Conference arch nemeses, the Boston Celtics. James put up an almost effortless 45 points in a game six elimination game in Boston, hitting shot after shot with terrifying efficiency. This was a Lebron James on a mission, a quest to redeem himself after an atrocious Finals performance against the Dallas Mavericks in the year prior. Arguably his peak year, in this series LeBron struck fear in the hearts of NBA teams across the league, marking his determination to dominate the NBA for years to come.
6. Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets 2014 WC First Round (POR wins 4-2)
          “It’s Lillard, he got the shot off…OH MY GOD, GOOD! AND THE BLAZERS, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FOURTEEN YEARS!” This sequence of commentary as well as Damian Lillard’s incredible series winning three against the Rockets in the 2014 first round was certainly a legendary playoff moment as soon as it transpired. After five games of back and forth trading wins, when the Blazers took a 3-2 series lead going into their home court for a possible close out, the Rockets were determined to force a game seven. With the Blazers down 96-98, Damian Lillard shot a three off of an inbound pass to win the series, marking the first time in fourteen years the Blazers had won a playoff series.
5. Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers 2015 WC Second Round (HOU wins 4-3)
           The Clippers were set to advance to the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history, breaking the curse of Chris Paul missing out year after year. Except the Rockets had different plans. Spearheaded by James Harden along with unlikely heroes Corey Brewer and Josh Smith, the Houston Rockets rallied down 3-1 and won the series. The Rockets would beat the Clippers by twenty one in game five but give up a 92-79 deficit going into the fourth quarter of game six. What happened next was classic Clippers basketball. The Clippers were outscored 40-15 in the fourth quarter and lost by twelve, destroying team morale which would ultimately cause a series defeat in game seven.
4. Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers 2013 EC Finals (MIA wins 4-3)
          “We don’t like them, they don’t like us,” remarked Paul George, regarding their back to back conference finals clashes against the Miami Heat in 2013 and 2014. Though their 2014 series was somewhat underwhelming, that is only because their series the year prior was absolutely riveting. The battles between a young arising superstar in Paul George holding his own against the face of the NBA created an eccentric series of rough, scrappy basketball with moments of brilliance scattered throughout.
3. Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder 2016 WC Finals (GSW wins 4-3)
          The 73-9 Warriors were on the verge of not even making the finals in their historic season, being down 3-1 against the rolling Oklahoma City Thunder. That is, until Wardell Curry of Nazareth declared to the entire world why he was the MVP. Winning three straight games in a row, the Golden State Warriors rallied behind the efforts of the splash brothers and made Kevin Durant rethink his career prospects in Oklahoma. Durant would join the Warriors the following season, but the outcome of an upcoming series on the list would certainly impact his decision.
2. Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs 2013 NBA Finals (MIA wins 4-3)
          “James his three pointer, rebound Bosh back out to Allen, his three pointer BANG! TIE GAME!” This legendary sequence of commentary from Mike Breen defines the Heat’s unreal comeback against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals. With their backs against the wall down 3-2, the Heat were facing elimination in a game 6 at home. Down five points with thirty seconds remaining, some Heat fans began leaving the building when the Miami Heat made an insane comeback that would snowball going into game seven, winning them the series.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors 2016 NBA Finals (CLE wins 4-3)
          And without a doubt the best playoff series of the 2010s, and maybe of all time, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ historic comeback in the NBA finals down 3-1 against the Golden State Warriors. Driven by the heroics of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers did the impossible and became the first team in NBA history to come back down 3-1 in the finals. This championship also marked the first major sports title in Cleveland since 1964 when the Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship.
           All of this combined with LeBron James finally delivering on his promise to the city of Cleveland makes this series easily the best of the decade.

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