In one of the biggest upsets in NBA Playoff history, the eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets eliminated the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics 98-94 in overtime in Game 5 of their Western Conference First Round series at the Seattle Coliseum.
The Nuggets, who won the last three games of the series, became the first # 8 seed to upset a # 1 seed since the First Round of the NBA Playoffs went to a best-of-5 format in 1984. Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo fell to the floor after grabbing the final rebound, clutching the ball as tears of joy streamed down his face.
For a little bit of backstory, the Nuggets finished the season with a record of 42-40, finishing as the #8 seed in the Western Conference with themselves in a huge gap between the #7 seed and #9 seed. They ended up playing the Seattle Supersonics who finished the year with a record of 63-19 and were the #1 seed.
The 1993-94 team was stacked with some young talent. They had Dikembe Mutombo in the middle. The big man was a beast in the paint as he averaged over four blocks a game that season. He also pulled down almost 12 rebounds a game. His 12 points a game was nothing too shabby either.
The leading scorer on that team was Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. The silky guard who went by Chris Jackson when he was drafted by the Nuggets averaged 18 points a game. Abdul-Rauf was only 24. Mutombo was just 27. Players like Bryant Stith, LaPhonso Ellis, Robert Pack, and Rodney Rogers were all under 25. This had the makings of something special, but it never panned out. But for one season is was an unbelievable playoff run.
Considering the NBA isn't exactly known as having a ton of upsets, it was incredible when they became the first team to ever pull off the upset of a #8 seed beating a #1 seed. After going down 0-2 (the 1st Round used to be 5 games instead of 7), they stormed back to win 3 in a row, with Games #4 and #5 coming in OT.
"I can't believe it, I couldn't believe we won this game," Dikembe Mutombo, a shot-blocking hero, said. "We really didn't expect to win this series. We just wanted to make a good showing."
It was a bitterly disappointing loss for the Sonics, who had a franchise-best 63 regular-season victories and were insured of the home-court advantage through the post-season.
"I can't believe it's over," Nate McMillan said. "I'm sitting here trying to figure out what happened. I'm going to get up tomorrow and have nothing to do and it's May."
It was only Seattle's fifth loss at home all season and broke a 14-game Sonics' home-court winning streak.
While that in itself would have been a great run, in the 2nd Round they nearly pulled off an even bigger feat which would have been coming back and winning the series after going down 0-3. They faced the Utah Jazz in the 2nd Round who of course had the likes of Stockton/Malone. After losing a gut-wrenching Game #3 by a score of 109-111 in OT, the Nuggets came back with 3 consecutive victories (83-82), (2OT 109-101), (94-91), to become the first team since 1951 to force a Game #7 after being down 0-3.