NBA

The 5 Most Underrated Championship Teams in NBA History

Nickolas Loza| June 25th, 2019

There’s been a lot of forgotten or looked over champions in NBA History, so today I’ll jog your memories on some of the most impressive but looked over Championship teams and why they’re so looked over. These teams were both underrated on their way to the championship and are still underrated to this day or just flat out forgotten.

#5 The 1983 Philadelphia 76ers

Coming in at #5 we have the ’83 76ers. The reason why they’re so underrated is they’re the only other team besides the Lakers or Celtics to win the NBA Championship between 1980 and 1988. They’re often forgotten for this reason, so this is why they’re so underrated. This team featured the likes of Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks, and Andrew Toney, who led the team to an NBA best 65-17 record and landed them a date with the Knicks in the Semifinal Round of the East playoffs. Moses Malone tore apart the Knicks, scoring an average of 31.3PPG while grabbing 15.5 rebounds per game in a 4-0 series victory. They then moved on to the Eastern Finals and faced the Milwaukee Bucks. This time it was Andrew Toney leading the way for the 76ers, scoring 22.2PPG on 53% shooting in 4-1 series victory, moving the Sixers to the Finals to face Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Sixers dominated the whole series, winning 4-0 with Moses Malone leading the way with 25.8PPG and 18.0 rebounds per game, and he managed to take home Finals MVP. This team is so overlooked, even though it had two all-time great players on it and was the best team in the league that year because all people cared about during the ’80s was Celtics Vs. Lakers. This team was impressive because it was the Sixers last championship and is remembered in Philadelphia as the cities crowning achievement in sports outside of the Eagles Super Bowl victory. The reason they aren’t higher is because they get talked about a little bit, but not as much as the next few teams on this list.

#4 The 2011 Dallas Mavericks

Coming in at the #4 spot are the 2011 Dallas Mavericks. People may think this is actually too low for the Mavericks, but there’s a big reason they’re this low. They’re remembered for taking LeBron and the Heat down, this is why they’re so low, outside of that however pretty much no one talks about how they got there in the first place. The Mavericks were led by Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, and Jason Terry, and coached by Rick Carlisle to a 57-25 record and the 3rd seed in the West. The Mavs took care of the Trail Blazers in the first round 4-2, and with that, they slew their demons of playoff past where they were eliminated in the first round 3 out of 4 years. Next was a daunting task, the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. The Mavericks shocked everyone by sweeping the Lakers 4-0, and this was probably their most impressive feat of the postseason, sweeping a two-time defending champion and officially ending the Lakers’ playoff viability window and their winning ways. In the conference finals the Mavericks had a tough test, they faced an Oklahoma City Thunder team who was an upstart dynamic team to boot, with Kevin Durant leading the NBA in PPG, it would prove a tough task for the Mavs. The Mavs took care of the Thunder in surprisingly quick fashion, winning the series 4-1.

#3 The 1995 Houston Rockets

The reason why they’re on this list is the way they took to get their championship. People forget this team was a #6 seed and how underrated they were going into the playoffs. It’s crazy how good this team was with Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Otis Thorpe, and others contributing and with legendary head coach Rudy Tomjanovich at the helm, the team went 47-35 and snuck into the playoffs. In this first round, the Houston Rockets were in a tough spot against John Stockton and the Utah Jazz, and with that eras playoff format, you only needed to lose three games to get knocked out of the first round and then it became a best of seven after the first round. The Rockets were in trouble after going down 2-1, but on the back of Clyde Drexler’s 41 points in Game 4 and 31 points in Game 5, the Rockets managed to pull it out and win the series 3-2. They then moved on to face the Phoenix Suns and Charles Barkley. The Rockets got themselves into an even deeper hole, going down 3-1 and having to go back to Phoenix where they were embarrassed twice in Games 1 and 2. The Rockets managed to win two feisty games in a row and force a Game 7 on the road. The Rockets in Game 7 went down by ten going into the half, all hopes looked lost until a 40 point third quarter put the Rockets up by two going into the fourth quarter. The Rockets ended up winning 115-114 and moving on to the Western Conference Finals to face a Spurs team who was a pleasant surprise to most. Nothing of real note happened in this series, and the Rockets won 4-2 and moved on to face Shaquille O’Neal and the Orlando Magic. The Rockets absolutely dominated the Magic in four games, and Hakeem Olujawon took home Finals MVP with 32.8PPG and 11.5 rebounds per game. This proved to be the last real shot the Rockets have had at a championship because they’ve never made it back to the Finals since and have been snake-bitten too.

#2 The 2004 Detroit Pistons

The 2004 Detroit Pistons are remembered, but only for their stifling and nearly unbeatable defense, which was run by Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups, while Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton provided offense and even more defense. With the team being led by Larry Brown and Joe Dumars, the team went 54-28 and secured the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Their first series of the playoffs went easily, it was a 4-1 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, but their next opponent wouldn’t go down nearly as easily. Their next opponent was the New Jersey Nets, and boy did this series ever come down to defense. The Nets managed a dismal 56 points in Game 1 and only 80 in Game 2 and the Pistons went up 2-0. The Nets weren’t going to go down without a fight however, they managed to soften the defense of the Pistons and go up 3-2 with Game 6 being in New Jersey. The Pistons defense suffocated the Nets in the fourth quarter, and the Pistons won by six, forcing a Game 7 in the Palace of Auburn Hills which was the most attended to stadium in the NBA that season. The Pistons managed to win easily and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals where they faced the Indiana Pacers. This series was noted as one of the most low scoring series of any length in NBA History. Neither team ever managed to score more than 85 points, and only one player who had a significant role had a field goal percentage over 39.9% (Richard Hamilton of Detroit). The Pistons managed to win this series 4-2 and moved on to face the three-time champion Lakers and Kobe Bryant. The Pistons did something different then most teams who faced the Lakers, they left Shaq 1 on 1 and decided to instead shift their focus to Kobe, who then attempted to play hero ball while shooting 38% from the field and turning the ball over three times a game. This strategy led to the Pistons winning the series 4-1, and Chauncey Billups took home Finals MVP averaging 21/3/5. This team will always be remembered for their defense, but are always criminally underrated for their playmaking abilities on offense and their ability to create offense. The reason they aren’t #1 is that they’re remembered more than the #1 team because of their defense.

#1 The 1977 Portland Trail Blazers

There’s a big reason the “Blazermania” Trail Blazers are #1. In my two or more years of being on Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit, I have never once seen this team being talked about. This team is forgotten because they had no big names outside of the oft-injured Bill Walton, and the fact that they play in a city which didn’t have a large basketball fanbase until this year when people caught onto “Blazermania” and people took affection to Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, and the whole Blazer gang. This team was led by Hall of Fame Coach Jack Ramsay, and the team went 49-33 and secured a date with the Chicago Bulls in the first round. During this weird and odd era, you only needed to win two games out of three to win the first round, then it went to a best of seven. The Blazers easily dealt with the Bulls in three games and moved on to face the Denver Nuggets in the second round. The Blazers got outplayed in basically every game of the series but somehow managed to carry a 3-2 lead back into Portland for Game 6. Johnny Davis was the hero in Game 6 for the Blazers, scoring 25 points in a 108-92 domination of the Nuggets. This allowed them to move on to face the Lakers and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Lakers were obvious favorites in this series, but Portland shocked the world and swept the Lakers and MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This allowed them to move on to the Finals, to face another scary opponent who was considered vastly more talented in the Philadelphia 76ers who had 2 Hall of Famers (Julius Erving and George McGinnis). The Trail Blazers to nobodies surprise went down in the series 2-0 and were outright dominated by Dr.J and the Sixers. The Blazers turned the tables, however and embarrassed the Sixers by 20+ points in Games 3 and 4. Then in Game 5 the Sixers got defeated on their home court 110-104 and were all of sudden flipped from the dominant position to being dominated. The Blazers then finished the Sixers off by getting a clutch rebound when the Sixers were forcing the Blazers into conservative ball playing by protecting the rim, but they allowed Maurice Lucas to sneak in and grab a rebound in the clutch to seemingly seal it, but the Sixers forced a jump ball and won the jump ball, but proceeded to choke away three opportunities to tie the game from within 6 feet, and missed all three and the Trail Blazers arena and the players erupted in joy as the team that made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history won the title. Bill Walton took home Finals MVP while averaging 19/18/5. This team is one of the most underrated teams in all of sports history because they didn’t have any really big names to remember them by, so this is why they’re #1.

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