Since the 1982-83 season, 10 teams seeded seventh or eighth have pulled off a first round upset. After a convincing 111-97 win in Game 2 on Tuesday, the eighth-seeded Chicago Bulls are up 2-0 on the Boston Celtics and heading home for the next two games, starting on Friday. So they're in prime position to become the 11th team to pull off such an upset. Where would it rank? Here's a look at some of the biggest ones of the past three decades.
1. 2007, Golden State Warriors over Dallas Mavericks, 4-2
The most improbable first-round upset in NBA history, the pre-Steph Curry Warriors barely got into the playoffs with a 42-40 record in the regular season and went up against a Mavericks team that started the season 0-4 and still ended up with 67 wins. The Mavs were also the defending Western Conference champions, but blew a 2-0 lead in the 2006 NBA Finals against Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. Dirk Nowitzki was the Most Valuable Player in 2007, averaging 24.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and shooting 50.2 percent from the field during the regular season. Dallas was primed for another deep playoff run, but ran up against Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson and the "We Believe" Warriors, who held Nowitzki to 19.7 points and 38.3 percent shooting in the series. Teammate Devin Harris was asked about Nowitzki's frustration in that series earlier this season and said: "He threw a chair. I witnessed it. We all were disappointed, obviously. Having the season that we had, Dirk having the season that he had, losing to a team that we obviously felt we were better than. It just showed how disappointed he was, and how I think we all were."
2. 1994, Denver Nuggets over Seattle Supersonics, 3-2
The Sonics -- led by Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp -- won 63 games during the regular season and finished atop the Western Conference, ranking second on offense and third on defense. Seattle was a juggernaut and showed that in the first two games of its best-of-five first round series against the Nuggets, winning Game 1 by 24 points at home and Game 2 by 10. Dan Issel, Denver's head coach, sounded like he had conceded the series to Seattle after Game 2, saying: "To be honest, we just wanted to get some playoff experience this year." The Nuggets went home and won Game 3 handily and then took Game 4 in overtime. The deciding fifth game was a tightly contested contest, but Denver finished off the upset with a 98-94 victory, puncutated by the iconic image of Dikembe Mutombo -- who finished with 15 rebounds and eight blocks in Game 5 -- holding the ball in jubilation:
3. 1998, New York Knicks over Miami Heat, 3-2
1999, New York Knicks over Miami Heat, 3-2
The Heat and Knicks had one of the best playoff rivalries in the '90s, highlighted by Pat Riley's departure from New York to Miami, and punctuated by several playoff brawls. The Knicks were the No. 7 seed in 1998, and faced the Heat for the second consecutive playoffs after losing to them in seven games in 1997 in the second round. That series was marred by a brawl that took place in Game 5 between P.J. Brown and Charlie Ward, which resulted in suspensions for Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, Larry Johnson and John Starks, and allowed the Heat to come back to win the series after trailing 3-1:
The Knicks got their revenge in 1998, coming back from a 2-1 deficit to win the best-of-five series, which was also highlighted by another fight that broke out between Alonzo Mourning and Johnson.
In 1999, the Knicks would face the Heat again in the first round, this team as the eighth seed, and once again, in the deciding fifth game, Houston hit the game-winning shot in the final seconds, sending the Heat to consecutive playoff disappointments.
4. 2011, Memphis Grizzlies over San Antonio Spurs, 4-2
The Spurs won five championships in the Gregg Popovich-Tim Duncan era, but that didn't mean there weren't any playoff disappointments. One of the more surprising results was their first round loss to the eighth-seeded Grizzlies in 2011, especially since the Memphis franchise had not won a single playoff series at that point and were 0-12 in playoff games. Without the injured Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph (21.5 points per game in the series), Mike Conley (14.3 points per game) and Marc Gasol (14.2 points per game) led the way and knocked off the Spurs in six games. The Grizzlies would lose to the Thunder in the second round, but their upset win over San Antonio in 2011 remains a signature moment in the franchise's history, and helped give birth to the Grit & Grind Grizzlies as we still know them today.
5. 2010, San Antonio Spurs over Dallas Mavericks, 4-2
The Spurs went into the playoffs as the seventh seed, but given the team's pedigree, and their familiarity with the Mavericks, and toss in Dallas' penchant for being upset in the playoffs (see: Warriors above, and also a first round loss to the New Orleans Hornets in 2008), this matchup was closer than what the seedings suggested. In the six-game first round upset, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and George Hill all averaged double-digits to lead the Spurs into the second round.
6. 2012, Philadelphia 76ers over Chicago Bulls, 4-2
The 76ers' upset of Chicago as the eighth seed in 2012 ranks at the bottom of the list and will always have an asterisk next to it due to the Bulls losing their best player Derrick Rose to a torn ACL at the very end of their Game 1 win.
To this day, Bulls fans will still question why Rose was in the game with 1:20 left when the team was up 12 points. The series marked a turning point for the Bulls team, who were expected to challenge LeBron James and the Heat in the East. Rose's injuries would continue to pile up, and that core group in Chicago never got back to the same playoff heights they reached in 2011 when they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.
If the Bulls pull off an upset over the Celtics, it would probably rank above '12 Sixers-Bulls and maybe '10 Spurs-Mavs -- but not much higher. While Boston won 53 games and took the No. 1 seed in the East during the regular season, but their expected win-loss total calculated based on the pythagorean formula using team and opponent's points suggested they performed as a 48-win team during the season. The Bulls, meanwhile, had an expected win total of 42 and actually won 41 during the season. The biggest surprise of this series is that Chicago spent all season looking like a mediocre, dysfunctional team. Their big three of Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo never meshed. Butler was involved in trade rumors and the front office didn't appear sold on him as a franchise player. Wade appeared at the end of his illustrious career. Rondo was benched for stretches during the season and didn't look like a capable starter in the league anymore. But through two games, Butler has dominated the series while Wade and Rondo have shown they still have something left, especially on the playoff stage. Add all of that together, and this has indeed turned into a matchup of two even teams.