The Miami Heat made a ton of history when they eliminated the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Not only were they the first play-in team to make it past the first round, but the Heat also became just the sixth 8th seed ever to beat a one seed and the second 8th seed to ever make the NBA finals. Ironically, the last team before the Heat to accomplish such a feat were the Philadelphia Sixers in 2012, the team led by Bucks All-Star Jrue Holiday.
That being said, with the Heat still looking to add to their fairy tale of a postseason, I'm sure you're curious to know how the five other 8th seeds fared when they made it past the first round. Here's the complete list:
1994: Denver Nuggets defeat Seattle Supersonics in five games
I'm sure you've seen the iconic video of Dikembe Mutombo holding up the basketball like he was in The Lion King. Aside from becoming the first team to beat a number one seed, what made this upset even more impressive was the fact the Nuggets were never favored to win that series from the get-go, even more, when they were in an 0-2 hold.
However, Mutombo and Robert Pack weren't going down without a fight. After a convincing game three win at home and an overtime win in game 4, the Nuggets had too much momentum and finished the job on the road with a 98-94 overtime win. Their luck ultimately ran out in the semi-finals as they were eliminated by the Utah Jazz in seven games.
1999: New York Knicks defeat Miami Heat in five games
The 1998-1999 season was unlike any other. It was a lockout-shortened season where teams only played 50 games. Like the Nuggets and Sonics in 94, this series went down to a decisive game 5. Down one with 4.5 seconds left in the game, Allan Houston's runner with .8 seconds left in the game wins the Knicks the series. And to this day, they're the only 8th seed to ever make the NBA finals where they were eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs.
2007: Golden State Warriors defeat Dallas Mavericks in six games
Nobody can forget the short-lived ‘We Believe' Warriors. Before the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, the Warriors had Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, and Jason Richardson. It was their first playoff series in 12 years, and despite the Mavericks coming off a loss in the NBA finals a year prior, league MVP that season Dirk Nowitzki couldn't handle the pressure.
The Warriors became the first team to upset a one-seed in a seven-game series in the NBA Playoffs and bowed out a round later to the Utah Jazz in five games.
2011: Memphis Grizzlies defeat San Antonio Spurs in six games
Arguably the greatest time in Memphis Grizzlies basketball, the ‘Grit-n-Grind' era made a resounding entrance when they shocked the Spurs in six games for their first playoff series win as a franchise. But as this series unfold, you can tell it was the Grizzlies to lose. After all, how often do you see anyone outplay The Big Fundamental the way Zach Randolph did in that series? In case you were wondering, Z-bo averaged 21.5 points and 9.2 rebounds. Meanwhile, Duncan averaged a modest 12.7 points and 10.5 rebounds.
2012: Philadelphia 76ers defeat Chicago Bulls in six games
If there was one series that was dictated by one play, this is definitely it. In yet another shortened season, it seemed the Bulls were on their way to an easy second-round appearance in the NBA Playoffs. They had game one in the bag until Derrick Rose tore his ACL. Momentum immediately shifted the Sixers' way, and they took care of business in six games. They were even a win away from advancing to the conference finals had it not been for a game 7 triple-double from Rajon Rondo.