The Five Greatest Buzzer Beaters of the NBA Playoffs

NBA basketball at times can seem boring but when it comes down to the final seconds of a game and someone makes a shot that wins the game it makes watching worth the wait. Those are the moments that are some of the most exciting. A buzzer beating shot or a shot that goes in before the buzzer sounds is a thrilling part of NBA basketball. That excitement is often taken to the next level in the NBA playoffs due to the fact that winning a game could mean winning a championship. In the history of the playoffs there have been many buzzer beaters made so in this essay I want to examine which ones are the best of all time. See for yourself below:

5. John Stockton’s tie breaking three

It was game six of the 1997 western conference finals between the Jazz and the Rockets. The score was tied 100 to 100. The Jazz had won three games compared to the Rockets who had won just two games. If the Jazz could win they would win the series and have a shot at the championship. John Stockton got the ball and ran up to the three point line and with time ticking away he pulled up and shot the three. It went in giving the Jazz the win over the Rockets.

What makes this shot so great? The reason that it’s so great is because it made it possible for the Jazz to go on to the next round of the playoffs and it was not just any round but it was for a shot at winning the championship.

4. Damian Lillard defeats the Rockets

Damian Lillard’s shot came at a time of critical importance in the Portland trailblazer season. The Portland trailblazers were playing against the Houston Rockets. It was game six of the first round of the playoffs and the trailblazers could win the series and advance to the next round if they won. If they lost that meant they would have to go back to Houston for a game seven. There was .9 seconds left on the clock for the trailblazers. They were behind the rockets by two points, the score was: Rockets 98 and Trailblazers 96 so a three would win the game. Damian Lillard caught the ball off of the inbounds pass behind the three point line and put up the shot just in time. The ball swished in, sealing the win for the Trailblazers.

The shot of Damian Lillard etched his name in history for himself and for his team. The fans will not soon forget Lillard because with a shot like that he really proved himself in a time when his team needed him. The Trailblazers were able to go on to the next round of the playoffs for the first time in fourteen years, that alone speaks for itself in relation to the greatness of the shot.

3. Derek Fisher’s comeback shot

Number three on the list comes from Derek Fisher. It was game five of the series with both the Lakers and the Spurs having won two games each. Game five at that point in the series was pivotal because it meant whoever won would be one game closer to winning the series. The game ended in a wild series of events, Tim Duncan of the Spurs made a falling away shot to put the Spurs up by one point with a measly .4 seconds left on the clock. With so little time on the clock you would think the game was over but it wasn’t. The ball was inbounded to Derek Fisher of the Lakers who just heaved up a shot and to everyone’s surprise it went in. That gave the Lakers the win and they eventually went on to win the series.

The reason this is a historic shot is because there was so little time left but Fisher somehow managed to throw a shot up. Some of the best shooters in the league take around .8 seconds to release a shot meaning that Fisher managed to take a shot in about half the time and win the game with someone defending him at the same time. His shot led the Lakers to win the series and they even made it to the championship of the playoffs!

2. Big Shot Rob carries the Lakers

The number 2 shot comes from Robert Horry also known as “Big Shot Rob” who played for the Lakers at the time, and he was not a big name player. It was game four of the 2002 NBA playoffs with the Kings playing the Lakers. The kings had won two games versus the Lakers who had won just one game. Both teams had played hard all game keeping the score very close, it could be anyone’s game, as it came to the final seconds the Lakers were down by two points. A shot was missed by the Lakers but somehow the ball got tipped out to Robert Horry who shot and made three to help the Lakers to a win.

It may seem like a small moment in time and just one little shot but it was a shot of utmost importance in my opinion. It may not be a shot many people remember but because of that shot the Lakers were able to go on and win the championship that year.

  1. Michael Jordan’s “The Shot”

This shot has the nickname of “The Shot”. It was a shot from Michael Jordan in the first round of the 1989 NBA playoffs. It was the Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were actually the underdog in this game and were not expected to win. Now the shot itself is one that is considered a classic, a shot that people still remember to this very day. Leading up to Jordan’s shot Mark Ehlo made a layup to put Cleveland ahead, after that with time ticking down Jordan got the ball and ran to about the free throw line where he jumped and seemed to just hang in the air long enough to get a shot off. The shot went in as time expired.

This shot was a beginning for Michael Jordan and the Bulls, that year they did not win the championship but would in future years. Now looking back we can see the legacy that Michael Jordan left behind. Jordan went on to win six championships with the Bulls after that game and will long be remembered for that buzzer beating shot.

There are thousands of shots taken in an NBA season but the most exciting shots are the shots that are taken as the time runs out in the games that matter the most. The number of shots like that, that do go in are small but the players who make them leave their mark in NBA history. They leave behind a memory that will be long remembered and talked about by thousands of people.