2014 NBA Playoffs
Though there were sixteen teams in the 2014 NBA playoffs, all with a chance of making it to the finals, there was always two teams that stood out as favorites: the Western Conference's San Antonio Spurs and the Eastern Conference's Miami Heat, who had played each other in the 2013 NBA Finals.
The Spurs continued their dominance by making the playoffs, keeping the longest active playoff streak in the NBA alive at 17 straight appearances. The Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards made their first playoff appearances since 2008, while the Charlotte Bobcats, in their final playoff appearance before renaming themselves the Hornets, returned after a four-year absence. All three teams from Texas made the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
But of course, all these re-entries to the Playoffs meant some regular appearing teams would have to miss out. For the first time since 2005, the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks did not qualify for the playoffs in the same year and for the first time since 1994, the Lakers and Celtics missed the playoffs in the same season. To cap it all off, this was the first time in NBA history that the Knicks, Celtics, and Lakers missed the playoffs in the same year.
Five of the eight first round series were extended to game sevens.
2014 NBA Playoffs First Round
This was the sixth playoff meeting for the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks, with Indiana winning three of the previous five playoff series. Despite the seeding of these two teams, this series was expected to be close due to the two tied games apiece during the regular season. This would ultimately be true, seeing as the game went to sevens, with Indiana winning 4-3. The Pacers were able to finish off the Hawks in Game 7 with a 92-80 win to avoid becoming the sixth first-seeded team to lose a series to an eight-seeded team in NBA history.
This series pitted the two-time defending champions Miami against a franchise that were only making their second playoff appearance (the Bobcats first played in the playoffs in 2010). Because of this, the Bobcats were touted as heavy underdogs against the Heat. To no one's surprise, the Heat dominated the series 4-0.
This was the second playoff meeting for the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets, with Brooklyn (then New Jersey) winning back in 2007 and again in 2014. Game 7 was close until the final seconds of the game. With the Nets leading by 1, Kyle Lowry had a chance to win the game and the series for the Raptors but Paul Pierce blocked his shot, giving the win and series victory to the Nets.
This would be the third playoff meeting between the Chicago Bulls and Washington Redskins, with both teams going in with one win apiece. The Bulls had to try and make it through the playoffs without their superstar Derrick Ross for the third straight year, as he had suffered an early season-ending injury. Meanwhile, the Wizards where making their first playoff appearance since 2008. The series was expected to be evenly matched, with the Bulls pulling through with the victory, however the Wizards went on to win 4-1.
This was the sixth playoff meeting for the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, with the Spurs winning three of the previous five. Despite the Spurs sweping the season series against the Mavericks (4-0), the playoff series was expected to be close because of the rivalry between the two teams. The series went to seven games, with the Spurs winning 4-3.
This was the third playoff meeting between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies, with each team going in with one win. This series was seen as the perfect chance for the Thunder to avenge their previous season's semifinal loss to the Grizzlies, where they took advantage of a Thunder team without Russell Westbrook. It was tight, but the Thunder were ultimately successful winning 4-3. Games 2-5 all went to overtime, breaking an NBA record for most number of OT games in a series.
This series was seen as the most dramatic first round series in the NBA, due in large part to the off-court drama surrounding Clippers's owner Donald Sterling's racist comments. The controvery arose after the Clippers won Game 3, which may explain why the Warriors blew them away 118-97 in Game 4. Sterling was handed a lifetime suspension, which the Clippers took in their stride, going on to win an emotional Game 5 in front of their home crowd. The series would go to seven games, which the Clippers won 4-3.
This was the fourth playoff meeting for the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers, with Houston winning all the previous series. This gave Houston the advantage in many spectators eyes. However, Portland would get their first win taking out the series 4-2. With their win, Portland would make its first second-round appearance since 2000, ending a 14 year drought which was previously the longest active post-season win drought.
2014 NBA Playoffs Conference Semifinals
The Indiana Pacers may have been the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, but they came off a tough seven-game series to progress to round two of the 2014 playoffs. The Washington Wizards, meanwhile, beat the Bulls in just five games, giving them plenty of time to rest and prepare. Though they put up a good fight, including holding a 62-23 rebounding advantage in Game 5, which was the widest margin in a playoff game since 1985, the Pacers ultimately won the series 4-2 and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year.
This was the third playoff meeting for the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets, with Miami taking out both previous series. Despite the fact that the Nets swept the season series against the Heat (4-0), the series was predicted to be close, seeing as all four regular season meetings went down to the wire. Miami dominated their first-round series against the Bobcats 4-0, but they showed no signs on rust from their long rest after blowing out the Nets 107-86 in Game 1. The Nets would go on to win Game 3, but it wasn't enough. Miami won the series 4-1, as they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth consecutive year.
This was the fourth playoff meeting for these two teams, with San Antonio winning the previous two.The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers both came off tough first round series before meeting each other. In Game 1, the Spurs' experienced pulled off against the young Blazers, blowing them out in Game 1 to take the series opener. The Pacers managed a win in Game 4, but it was too late. The Spurs were able to finish off the Blazers in Game 5 with another blowout win, sending them to the Western Conference Finals for the third consecutive year with a 4-1 series win.
The Thunder and Clippers were both coming off tough seven game series against the Grizzlies and Warriors, respectively, in round one. The series was expected to be close with the two teams tied in their regular season series. The first four games proved this, with both sides taking away two wins. Game 5 ended in controversy after a questionable out-of-bounds call with 11 seconds remaining set up the Thunder with a game-winning free throw. This gave Oklahoma confidence heading into game six, which they also won. The side advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in four years with a 4-2 series win.
2014 NBA Playoffs Conference Finals
This series marked the third consecutive year that the Heat and the Pacers faced off in the playoffs including the second consecutive time in the Conference Finals. The Heat won the previous two match ups against the Pacers and the Pacers would be aiming to dethrone the Heat as Eastern Conference Champions. The Pacers fought hard, starting the series on a high winning Game 1. They lost the next three games, but managed to pull a win in Game 5, not letting Miami finish them off early. However, the Heat would not let the series go to a Game 7 as they blew out the Pacers in Game 6, 117-92, finishing them off for the third straight year as they advanced to their fourth straight NBA Finals appearance.
This series featured a rematch of the 2012 Western Conference Finals that was won by the Thunder in six games after they trailed 0-2 in the series. It was also the fourth playoff meeting between these old rivals. The series was expected to be close but the Thunder suffered a blow when Serge Ibaka was ruled out of the rest of the playoffs. The Spurs took advantage of the absence of Ibaka, blowing out the Thunder in Game 1. Ibaka eventually played in Game 3 as a member of the starting lineup and his presence motivated the Thunder to win Game 3. They proceeded to win Game 4, tying the series at 2 games each. Game 6, the decider for both sides, would feature the first close game in the series. The Spurs pulled away in overtime, winning the series 4-2, and advanced to the NBA Finals for the second straight year.
The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat would then meet in the 2014 NBA Finals, a rematch of 2013.