On June 11th in 1999, the New York Knicks defeated the Indiana Pacers 90-82 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals and made league history.
They became the first eighth-seeded team in NBA history to reach the NBA Finals.
On this Day (1999): the Knicks became the first eight seed in NBA history to reach the NBA Finals 😤 #NewYorkForever pic.twitter.com/9V1gYpNr2N- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) June 11, 2019
The Knicks entered the 1999 postseason with a 27-23 record in the lockout-shortened 50-game season. They were only six games off the Eastern Conference's top seed in the Miami Heat (33-17), a team they would face in the first round of the playoffs.
Both teams would split the first four games of the series with a comfortable average winning margin being of 17.25 points. However, the winner-take-all Game 5 was tightly contested and went down to the wire.
The Knicks clinched this deciding game with Allan Houston's game-winner:
On this day in Knicks History (1999), with :00.8 seconds left, @allan_houston hit the iconic running one-hander, that gave the Knicks a series-clinching 78-77 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference 1st Round. pic.twitter.com/IWpWNaLMsx- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) May 16, 2019
Back then, it was only the second time in NBA history (after the 1994 Denver Nuggets) that an eighth-seeded team had beaten the top seed. Since 1999, three other eighth-seeded teams have pulled off a similar upset - 2007 Warriors, 2011 Grizzlies, 2012 76ers.
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In the second round of the 1999 playoffs, the Knicks eased past the fourth-seeded Atlanta Hawks with a four-game sweep. In the Conference Finals, they matched-up against the 33-win Indiana Pacers (tied for best record in the East), a team they faced in four of the six previous playoffs.
Unlike their lop-sided first-round series, the six-game series against the Pacers was competitive with a winning margin of just 5.5 points. However, as they split the first two games on the road in Indiana, the Knicks lost Patrick Ewing to a partial tear of his left Achilles tendon, an injury that forced him out of rest of the playoffs.
Coming off an injury to such an important player, the Knicks needed some heroics to lift them in Game 3 and that's exactly what Larry Johnson provided in the final seconds:
Despite losing the home-court advantage they had stolen by dropping Game 4, the Knicks won Game 5 and 6 on the trot to advance to their eighth NBA Finals.
In the Game 6 win, despite Johnson not playing the second half due to a knee injury, Allan Houston led the way with a game-high 32 points (12-17 FGs) and the Knicks held Reggie Miller to just 3-of-18 shooting from the field.
In the 1999 NBA Finals, the Knicks only managed to win one game (Game 3) as Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs clinched their first championship in franchise history.
Other notable events on June 11th
- In 1987, five Boston Celtics' scored 20 or more points - setting an NBA Finals record - as they beat the Los Angeles Lakers 123-108 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Dennis Johnson top-scored with 23 while also dishing out 11 assists but the Lakers went on to win the title in six games.
- In 1993, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley scored 42 points apiece in Game 2 of the Finals as the Bulls went on to win 111-108. This game marked the first time in NBA Finals history that two opponents had scored at least 40 points in the same Finals game.
- In 1997, Michael Jordan combats the flu and wills the Bulls to a 90-88 Game 5 victory over the Jazz with a superhuman effort of 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals in 44 minutes.
- In 2009, Derek Fisher knocked down two clutch 3-pointers - one in regulation and one in overtime to help the Los Angeles Lakers come from 12 points down at halftime to win Game 4 of the Finals against the Orlando Magic.
- In 2013, the San Antonio Spurs knocked down a then Finals record 16 3-pointers in a dominating 113-77 Game 3 victory over the Miami Heat. Danny Green (7) and Gary Neal (6) combined for 13 of those 16.
- In 2015, Andre Iguodala gets his first start of the season, in place of Andrew Bogut, as the Golden State go small to win Game 4 103-82 and tie the Finals up at two games apiece.
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