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Bracket of the Week: Voting continues with quarterfinals for the greatest shots in NBA postseason history

Day 2 of the greatest shots in NBA postseason history bracket
Day 2 of the greatest shots in NBA postseason history bracket (Getty Images; DAZN illustration)

Every week on NBA.com, we'll unveil a new bracket with daily matchups to vote on. By the end of the week, we'll crown a champion and determine a winner based on fan voting. Starting us off this week? The greatest shots in postseason history?

What is the greatest shot in postseason history? Is it Michael Jordan's last shot as a member of the Chicago Bulls? What about Kyrie Irving's clutch 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals? Or Ray Allen saving the Miami Heat in 2013?

Could it be a shot that didn't even take place in the NBA Finals? Kawhi Leonard and his four-bounce buzzer-beater against the Philadelphia 76ers might have something to say about that.

We picked our greatest 16 shots in NBA postseason history and seeded them 1 through 16. Each day, we'll advance winners based on your votes from across every global edition of NBA.com and by the end of the week crown a champion. Before digging into today's four matchups, here are the voting results from Day 1.

First Round Results

Here is how the opening round matchups played out on voting across Global NBA.com sites. The only upset came in the 7 vs 10 matchup with Jerry West's 60-foot heave to force overtime taking out Sam Jones's game-winner from the 1969 NBA Finals.

The closest matchup was between a couple of Lakers in Magic Johnson and Robert Horry while Kawhi Leonard received 91% of the votes in his duel with John Stockton, the most lopsided of the eight opening-round pairs.

  • 1 Michael Jordan in 1998 def. 16 Damian Lillard in 2019: 67%
  • 2 Ray Allen in 2013 def. 15 Allan Houston in 1999: 88%
  • 3 Kyrie Irving in 2016 def. 14 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1974: 66%
  • 4 Kawhi Leonard in 2019 def. 13 John Stockton in 1997: 91%
  • 5 Michael Jordan in 1989 def. 12 Larry Bird in 1981: 70%
  • 6 Magic Johnson in 1987 def. 11 Robert Horry in 2002: 58%
  • 10 Jerry West in 1970 def. 7 Sam Jones in 1969: 82%
  • 8 Steve Kerr in 1997 def. 9 John Paxson in 1993: 68%

1 vs 8 - The Last Shot vs Kerr's clincher

You've seen it a million times. Michael Jordan buries a jumper in the closing seconds of Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals over the outstretched arms of Jazz guard Bryon Russell, holds the pose and puts the ultimate exclamation point on a Hall of Fame career with the Chicago Bulls.

"If he comes off, I'll be ready." That was Steve Kerr talking to Michael Jordan in the timeout just before this play, referencing Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton who was guarding Kerr but would likely double-team Jordan as he did in a similar spot earlier in the series. With the score tied 86-86, Kerr calmly sank a 15-footer to put the Bulls up with five seconds left in the title-clinching Game 6.

What's the better shot?
1) Michael Jordan's "The Last Shot" in 1998 Finals
8) Steve Kerr's game winner in Game 6 of 1997 Finals
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4 vs 5 - Four bounces vs The Shot

Talk about an incredible second-round matchup! There are only two game-winning buzzer-beaters in NBA playoff history that came in a winner-take-all game... and they're squaring off against each other right now.

It's impossible to overstate the magnitude of Kawhi Leonard's shot and what it meant not only for the Toronto Raptors but for basketball in all of Canada. That it happened in the Conference Semifinals instead of later on is the only reason it's not a higher seed. But to do that in a Game 7 over the outstretched arms of a fully extended Joel Embiid and wait for it to play pinball on the rim... just an incredible moment.

Michael Jordan's shot over Craig Ehlo remains one of the most iconic and everlasting moments in postseason history. Never mind the fact that it came in the 1st Round, there was a heightened sense of urgency given it came in a winner-take-all game. Not only were the Bulls losing by one and facing yet another early exit had that shot not gone in, at that point in his career Jordan had only been out of the 1st Round once. Up until that point, Jordan's greatest postseason moment came in a loss (scoring 63 points against the Boston Celtics in 1986) and in a series his team got swept.

What's the better shot?
4) Kawhi Leonard's shot in Game 7 of 2019 Conf Semis
5) Michael Jordan's "The Shot" in 1989 1st Round
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3 vs 6 - Kyrie's Game 7 dagger vs Magic's skyhook

Kyrie faces off against a game-winning skyhook in the NBA Finals for the second straight day after toppling Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the first round.

Irving's go-ahead 3-pointer with 53 seconds left in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals came less than a minute after LeBron's famous block of Andre Iguodala. Just how big of a shot was it? In terms of how much it actually swung the series according to win probability, there's a case to be made it's the single biggest shot in NBA history as was made back in 2016 in the Wall Street Journal .

Magic Johnson's skyhook to beat the Celtics in Game 4 of the 1987 Finals gave the Lakers a 3-1 lead and ultimately catapulted them on to the NBA title. In the most storied rivalry in NBA history, there's perhaps no more defining moment than Johnson's skyhook to beat the Celtics in the Boston Garden.

What's the better shot?
3) Kyrie Irving's clutch 3-pointer in Game 7 of 2016 Finals
6) Magic Johnson's skyhook in Game 4 of 1987 Finals
Make your own survey

2 vs 10 - Ray Allen's corner 3 vs Jerry West's 60-footer

The two overtime forcing shots in the field meet for the right to advance to the semifinals!

It's wild to think how much different we'd view the legacy of LeBron James had Ray Allen not sank the clutch 3-pointer from the corner to force overtime in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. Allen's only made 3 of the game came at the biggest possible moment and right after Kawhi Leonard missed the opportunity for the Spurs to go up by four points. If Allen misses that shot, who knows what happens next with James and the Heat. But he made it, the Heat won Game 6 in OT and won Game 7 to win their second straight title.

Imagine a 60-footer at the buzzer in the NBA Finals to force overtime. If that happened today, it would break the internet. Well, that's exactly what happened in Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals. After Dave DeBusschere gave the Knicks a two-point lead with three seconds left, West took the inbounds pass from Wilt Chamberlain and launched a 60-footer which went in to force overtime. The Lakers ended up losing in overtime and would go on to lose the series for yet another Finals heartbreak for West.

What's the better shot?
2) Ray Allen's corner 3 in Game 6 of 2013 Finals
10) Jerry West's 60-footer in Game 3 of 1970 Finals
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The Original Field

So here's the deal... picking 16 and only 16 was TOUGH. Factors considered for each shot included the stakes, whether or not that shot changed the outcome of a series, and the degree of difficulty.

1. Michael Jordan 1998 NBA Finals Game 6 - game-winner over Bryon Russell
2. Ray Allen 2013 NBA Finals Game 6 - hits corner 3 to tie game and force OT
3. Kyrie Irving 2016 NBA Finals Game 7 - Pull-up 3 from right elbow
4. Kawhi Leonard 2017 Conf Semis Game 7- Four bounces and in
5. Michael Jordan 1989 1st Round Game 5 - The Shot over Craig Ehlo
6. Magic Johnson 1987 NBA Finals Game 4 - Jr. Skyhook to beat the C's
7. Sam Jones 1969 NBA Finals Game 4 - Jumper at buzzer to win
8. Steve Kerr 1997 NBA Finals Game 6 - game-winning shot with 5 sec left to clinch title
9. John Paxson 1993 NBA Finals Game 6 - game-winning 3 in final seconds to clinch title
10. Jerry West 1970 NBA Finals Game 3 - 60-footer to force overtime (no 3-point line)
11. Robert Horry 2002 Western Conf Finals Game 4 - Hits 3 at buzzer to win 100-99
12. Larry Bird 1981 NBA Finals Game 1 - shot and putback to win it at end
13. John Stockton 1997 West Conf Finals Game 6 - 3 at buzzer to send Jazz to first Finals
14. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1974 NBA Finals Game 6 - Game winner skyhook in double OT
15. Allan Houston 1999 1st Round Game 5 (best of 5) - Game winner in lane over Miami Heat
16. Damian Lillard 2019 1st Round Game 5 to eliminate Oklahoma City Thunder

Some of our hardest omissions:

  • Robert Horry's shot to beat the Pistons in the 2005 NBA Finals.
  • Don Nelson's go-ahead shot in Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals
  • Derek Fisher and "0.4 seconds"
  • Any of the game-winners by LeBron James
  • Kobe Bryant against the Suns in 2006
  • Damian Lillard's shot to sink the Rockets in 2014

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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