The NBA playoffs are lucky to get six Game 7's in a entire postseason. But in the first round in 2014, the NBA playoffs were one buzzer beater away from having six Game 7's this weekend. This made Damian Lillard's last-second three to eliminate the Houston Rockets all the more shocking on May 2, since it actually prevented a Game 7 for the Portland Trail Blazers.
Lillard's final three-pointer to end the Blazers' 99-98 Game 6 win over the Rockets gave Portland its first playoff series victory in 14 years. It also helped the Blazers do what the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs couldn't on May 2, and what the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers didn't on May 1 -- win a Game 6 with the chance to move on.
Now the Blazers will get some rest, while the Spurs and Dallas Mavericks play a Game 7 for the right to face them. The Mavericks stayed alive for that honor by beating the Spurs in Game 6, putting together a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter to stave off elimination by 113-111.
Dallas became the second No. 8 seed to play a Game 7 against a No. 1 seed -- although the No. 8 seeded Atlanta Hawks wanted to avoid a Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers. Because they didn't, the Hawks and Pacers will play the first seventh game of the weekend on May 3, while the Mavericks and Spurs will close the first round on May 4.
The Brooklyn Nets also found their way into a Game 7, which is what they faced the last time they were in the playoffs. Last year, the Nets lost a seventh game at home in the first round, but they forced a Game 7 in the opening round at home this year, with a wire-to-wire 97-83 victory over the Toronto Raptors. However, the finale for the Nets and Raptors will be in Toronto on May 4.
Since the Blazers survived, there will not be a triple header of Game 7's on May 4, unlike on May 3. But the NBA playoffs will still have five Game 7's in a first round for the first time ever, which is unprecedented in any other sport as well..
The accompanying list details the schedule for the most unique weekend in NBA playoff history, if not league history.
A week or two ago, the Hawks eliminating the Pacers would have been an historic upset. On paper, it still will be, but after the way Atlanta has already won twice in Indiana, a third road win wouldn't quite shock the world. Yet after the Pacers avoided elimination in Game 6 at Atlanta and after Paul George avoided a suspension, it would be extra stunning for Indiana.
A second straight postseason upset for the Grizzlies over the Thunder wouldn't be an historic shock, even with Russell Westbrook on the floor this time. But after the Grizzlies were blown out at home with a chance to clinch in Game 6, and after Zach Randolph got suspense and Mike Conley came up limping, a Game 7 loss for the Thunder would be the stuff of upsets.
The Warriors-Clippers series will not be remembered for basketball reasons in the long run, thanks to Donald Sterling. But with Sterling gone and with the Clippers getting Game 7 at home, this is the chance for Los Angeles to truly turn the page in its franchise history.
Kevin Garnett and his fellow free agents were signed by Jay-Z and the Nets so they could take Brooklyn to the next level. At the least, they were brought on to stop the Nets from losing their second straight first round Game 7, and now they have their chance in Toronto.
The NBA playoffs finally close out the first round in San Antonio, for what could be the second upset of a No. 1 seed by a No. 8 in a Game 7. The Mavericks were shocked as a No. 1 seed in 2007 by the Warriors, and now they can be on the other end by stunning the Spurs.