• Kurtis Tatkenhorst

June 11- The New York Knicks Become the First and Only 8th Seed to ever make the NBA Finals

1999- On this day in Sports History, the eighth seeded New York Knicks defeated the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to go to the 1999 NBA Finals. It is the only time in NBA History that an eighth seed advanced all the way to the NBA Finals. The Knicks did it on this day in 1999 after beating the Pacers 90-82 to win the series 4-2. The Knicks won the series without their star player Patrick Ewing after he got an achilles injury in Game 2 of the series. The Knicks were led in Game 6 by Allan Houston with 32 points and Latrell Sprewell with 20 points. More importantly, the Knicks forced the Pacers into 26 turnovers and held Reggie Miller to 8 points. The win eliminated the Pacers and sent the Knicks to the NBA Finals.

TAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

The 1999 NBA season did not start on time and was shortened to 50 games because of a lockout. Finally on February 5th, the Knicks played their first game. The Knicks were a good team but underachieved for most of the season. They were 22-21 with seven games left and had to overcome a 16 point 4th quarter deficit to stay above .500. From then on, the Knick’s success started to come as they’d win six of their last eight to sneak into the playoffs as the eighth seed.

Once they made the playoffs, the Knicks started to make history. They are only one of five teams to ever beat the first seed in the first round. The Knicks beat Pat Riley and the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the best of five series. They’d go on to be the only eight seed to win the 2nd round as they swept the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Knicks then faced the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. In Game 3, the Knicks were down three when Larry Johnson had a four point play with five seconds left to win the game. The Knicks would go on to beat the Pacers in Game 6 on this day to become the only eighth seed to make it to the NBA Finals.

In the Finals, the New York Knicks had to face Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. The Knicks didn’t have much of a chance without Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson, who got hurt in Game 6 of the Pacers’s series. The Knicks lost the series 4-1 as Tim Duncan averaged 27 points and 14 rebounds a game. Still, the Knicks remain to be the only eighth seed to make the NBA Finals.


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Sources:

Louis, Steven. “In the Knick of Time.” The Ringer, The Ringer, 3 Apr. 2019

“1999 NBA Eastern Conference Finals - New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers.” Basketball Reference


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