/The Biggest Upset in NBA Playoff History

The Biggest Upset in NBA Playoff History

The Seattle SuperSonics put together one of the more impressive regular seasons in NBA history in 1993-94 when they finished 63-19. Six players averaged in double figures led by Shawn Kemp’s 18.1 points a game. Kemp also led the team in rebounds (10.8 rpg).

Seattle entered the postseason as the top seed in the Western Conference. The Sonics went 37-4 at home during the season and would take on Denver in the first round of the playoffs.


Denver finished the regular season just two games above .500 (42-40) and made the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. The Nuggets would be the No. 8 seed and face Seattle in a best-of-five opening round series.

Denver was led by point guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (the former Chris Jackson) who scored 18.0 points a game and averaged 4.5 assists. LaPhonso Ellis scored 15.4 points and grabbed 8.6 rebounds a game. The difference maker for Denver was veteran 7-footer Dikembe Mutombo. The big man averaged 12.0 points, 11.8 rebounds, and a whopping 4.1 blocked shots per game.

GAMES 1 & 2

The first two games of the series were at the Seattle Center Coliseum. The SuperSonics recorded double-digit victories in both games – 106-82 in Game 1 and 97-87 in Game 2. The rout was on.


The series shifted to Denver’s McNichols Arena for Games 3 and 4. Most saw a sweep coming. They were wrong. Reggie Williams went off for 31 points and eight assists to lead Denver to a 110-93 blowout win over Seattle in Game 3.

It was an absolute battle in Game 4. The game went to overtime and, in the end, Denver prevailed 94-85 behind 27 points and 17 rebounds by Ellis. The series would go back to Seattle tied at 2-2.


Remember, the Sonics had lost just four games at home all season. Seattle employed its vaunted full-court press, but Denver shrugged it off and committed just 11 turnovers. The Nuggets defense was outstanding. Denver held Kemp to just six second half points and 19 for the game.

Robert Pack scored 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and Bison Dele tallied 17 points and an amazing 19 rebounds. A last-second layup by Seattle’s Kendall Gill forced another overtime, but it only prolonged the inevitable.

For the first time in NBA history, a No. 8 seed defeated a No. 1 seed in the postseason. Denver won Game 5 in Seattle 98-94 in overtime.

Rick Bouch