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Why were there so many playoff upsets in the 70s?

  • Broadcast in Basketball
Over and Back NBA Podcast

Over and Back NBA Podcast


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We look at why there were so many playoff upsets and so much parity during the 1970s in the latest edition of Over and Back’s Basketball Mysteries of the 1970s.

We discuss how parity increased in the NBA as the decade wore on and peaked in the late 1970s after the NBA-ABA merger, how 1970s series dominate the list of biggest NBA upsets ever, how there were more major 7-game playoff upsets during the 1970s than in the 35 years in the NBA since, and then break down the major playoff upsets of the time: the Los Angeles Stars over the Denver Rockets in 1970, the Baltimore Bullets over the New York Knicks in 1971, the New York Nets over the 68-win Kentucky Colonels in 1972, the Golden State Warriors over the Milwaukee Bucks in 1973, the Knicks over the 68-win Boston Celtics in 1973, the Celtics over the Bucks in 1974, the Warriors over the Washington Bullets in the 1975 NBA Finals, Marvin Barnes and the Spirits of St. Louis over Julius Erving and the Nets in 1975, the Indiana Pacers over the Denver Nuggets in 1975, the Phoenix Suns over the Warriors in 1976, the Bullets over the Philadelphia 76ers in 1978, the Seattle SuperSonics over the Portland Trail Blazers in 1978, and the 40-win Kansas City Kings and Houston Rockets each making a stunning run to the Western Conference Finals in 1981.

We also talk about Earl Monroe outplaying Clyde Frazier in a decisive Game 7 (before Pearl joined the Knicks the next season), how Rick Barry had a penchant for being involved in playoff upsets, how the notoriously wild Spirits of St. Louis came together for one series of brilliance, how the Bucks missed a chance at creating a dynasty, how George McGinnis managed to carry the Pacers with brilliant all-around play, Denver and Indiana resorting to dancing mascots and a witch’s hex, Moses Malone putting Houston on his back, and much more.