The Sixers joined an exclusive #8 seed fraternity after last night's ugly yet beautiful series-clinching victory over the Chicago Bulls. Now, there's no argument that the Sixers are a flawed team. They managed to squeak by a Bulls team, who, by series end, was a shell of their former self. But a win is a win is a win. Forty years from now, I'm going to be so confused anyway that I'll probably tell my grandchildren that Michael Jordan and Artis Gilmore were the leading scorers for this Bulls team. So who cares, right? The Sixers advanced to the second round for the first time since 2003, and it feels pretty good.
But how do the Sixers stack up with their #8 seed brethren? Are our Sixers (judged strictly by the modern 16-team playoff format) the worst team to ever win a playoff series?
1993-1994 Denver Nuggets
Temple Pride?: Mark Macon
1st Round: Defeated the Seattle Supersonics, 3-2, in an incredibly entertaining series.
Final Playoff Result: Lost, 4-3, in the next round to the Utah Jazz.
The Nuggets were neat. They had a young, agile Mutombo, three guys who legally changed their names - Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Bison Dele, Jim Hellwig - a rookie Rodney Rogers, and Robert Pack. That's a pretty fun group, right? They were the first #8 seed to pull the upset feat, and that thrilling OT victory in Game 5 produced one of the more iconic photos in NBA history.
I imagine that a '94 Nuggets vs. our Sixers match-up would ultimately be decided at the center position. Mutombo (4.1 blocks/per) would have no problem returning Hawes' weak sauce back to the kitchen. (Get it? Because it's sauce, you see). The LB game threads would be littered with gloom and doom and finger wagging gifs. After one lopsided road loss, the thread morphs into a massive list of people they'd rather have at center than Spencer Hawes. Brian Skinner, incredibly, is named on three different occasions.
Oh, and Bryant Stith hits one game-winner out of spite. He's still bitter that I traded him for Todd Day in NBA Live '95.
Nuggets in 7.
The 2006-2007 Golden State Warriors
Temple Pride?: N/A
1st Round: Defeated the Dallas Mavericks, 4-2, thanks to an endless barrage of three pointers. The Oracle Arena was rocking. Cool scene.
Final Playoff Result: Lost, 4-1, in the next round to the Utah Jazz.
Roy Halladay thought the '94 Nuggets were fun, but he thinks this Warriors squad was funner. Dallas and Golden State played six games where defense and two-pointers were not only discouraged, but banned all together. This wasn't the NBA playoffs. It was MTV Rock N' Jock Basketball. Even player/coach, Bill Bellamy, chipped in fourteen off the bench. And Stephen Jackson was always wide open in the corner. Who the hell was covering Stephen Jackson? Just a nutty, awesome series.
'07 Warriors vs. the '12 Sixers? Who knows. I'm guessing the series would go the distance, but no game would be close. The Sixers would lose three games 118-97, and those losses would spawn articles on LB entitled, "Should the Sixers Play a 1-3-1 Zone?" and "Where Have You Gone Royal Ivey? Our Perimeter Defense Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You."
Woo, woo, woo.
The Sixers would respond, though. Elton Brand would take advantage of an undersized Golden State frontcourt and have his way on the elbow. Elton's 22 and 12 average through seven games would propel the Sixers to a series victory, and lead to a 15% increase in Chevrolet sales across the tri-state area.
Sixers in 7.
1998-1999 New York Knicks
Temple Pride?: Rick Brunson
Record: 27-23 (Lockout season)
1st Round: Defeated the Miami Heat, 3-2, in the only modern era series that was played without a shot clock.
Final Playoff Result: Lost in the NBA Finals to the Spurs, 4-1.
The Knicks offense was boring and bland. It was the basketball equivalent of picking Scorpion and then mashing "back, back, A" over and over until your buddy eventually blacked out. Get over here. Get over here. Get over here. Get over here. Get over here.
Boring on offense, yes; but very capable on the defensive end.
A series between the '99 Knicks and our Sixers would be complete slop. It'd be like a bunch of nine year olds playing tackle football in three feet of snow, and the quarterbacks are throwing wounded ducks because they're wearing their dad's mittens (not gloves, not gloves, we're not talking about gloves), but mittens, big mittens, and the wide receivers are plodding through crossing routes that take ten minutes to develop because they're weighed down by snow suits and oversized Mighty Ducks Starter jackets. Both teams exchange interceptions and punts until one team finally breaks through on a quarterback scramble after a defender is caught doing snow angels in the secondary.
Again, just spit balling here.
Mike, especially, would take the series hard. As the Sixers lose game after game, 74-70, Mike's recaps would become increasingly nonsensical and caps lock-driven. By Game 4, the recap would look something like this:
SIXERS LOSE 74-70 AND I CAN'T FEEL MY FACE BECAUSE I RIPPED OFF MY ARMS IN THE THIRD QUARTER WHEN THE KNICKS WENT ON A 6-2 RUN THAT LASTED THE ENTIRE SECOND HALF AND NOW I HAVE NO ARMS WHERE DID I PUT MY ARMS IMMEDIATE REACTION THREAD.
By series end, Mike would have no appendages left. He would write recaps through a Stephen Hawking-esque translation device, and his girlfriend has to now carry him everywhere, including through airport security where she plops him down on the scanner with her jewelry, sneakers, and carry-on bag. Mike would live out the rest of days as a hoarder, collecting coffee mugs and hairless cats that are all curiously named, Contested Long Twos.
Knicks in 5.
2010-2011 Memphis Grizzlies
Temple Pride?: N/A
1st Round: Looked very, very impressive in beating the San Antonio Spurs, 4-2.
Final Playoff Result: Lost in the next round to the Thunder, 4-3.
Fun Facts! The Grizzlies went 5-1 at home in the playoffs. (Not all fun facts are fun).
A physical bunch. Zach Randolph was a huge match-up problem for the Spurs on the low-block. Gasol, Randolph, Allen - these guys are men. This Grizzlies team wasn't your 5th and 6th grade CYO team that played a soft 2-3 and had six different guys named Steve.
But, Dave. We beat Our Lady of Fatima by double-digits.
Bravo. Everyone beat Our Lady of Fatima, Steve M.
The Griz aren't a good match-up for our Sixers. Too physical. Too tough down low. The loss would be methodical, like an Angela Lansbury murder investigation.
"I'm just here at the ski lodge visiting my niece. Oh dear, a bus boy was found dead in the walk-in cooler? I guess it won't hurt to take a look around. I really should leave this investigation to the police. But there's just one thing I don't understand. Why wasn't the sous-chef in the kitchen during dinner service? Hmm...
Grizzlies in 5.
So what do we think? Are the Sixers the worst #8 seed to ever win a playoff series? Vote. Discuss. Name your go-to Mortal Kombat character.