The NBA finals are supposed to be one of the most entertaining times of the year for basketball fans. The two best teams from each conference get to match up and decide who will be named the NBA champion

NBA Finals Showdowns: Ranking The Last 10 Battles

The NBA finals are supposed to be one of the most entertaining times of the year for basketball fans. The two best teams from each conference get to match up and decide who will be named the NBA champion.

Sometimes, the NBA finals do deliver on their promise and provide an unforgettable series. However, some series end up being forgotten just days after the series ends. We will look at the last ten finals series and see where they match up from an entertainment standpoint.

10 – 2018 NBA finals

The only finals sweep from the last ten seasons ended up finishing dead last on the list. There was very little hope for this series to be entertaining. The Warriors already had an advantage over the Cavaliers in 2017, and after Kyrie Irving had requested a trade it made the team even worse. LeBron James was still able to get the Cavs back to the finals.

Game 1 was super close but J.R Smith ended up forgetting the score and dribbling the ball out in a tie game. The Warriors won game 1 in overtime and never looked back. Despite the loss James averaged 34 points per game in the series, one of the best finals performances regardless of the outcome of the series. 

9 – 2023 NBA finals

Last season’s NBA finals were very forgettable. From the west the first seeded Denver Nuggets led by Nikola Jokic looked to win their first championship in franchise history. Meanwhile the east was represented by the eighth seeded Miami Heat. Although the Heat had a very impressive run to make the finals the talent gap was obvious. The Nuggets won this series in an easy five games.

8 – 2014 NBA finals

The 2013 NBA finals between the Heat and Spurs was one of the best in NBA history. However, the 2014 NBA finals failed to give a proper rematch. The Spurs got revenge from the Heat by beating them in five games. All the games won by the Spurs in this series were by double digits. This series is only memorable for the rise of young star Kawhi Leonard, who won finals MVP at just 22 years old. 

7 – 2017 NBA finals

Just like the 2014 NBA finals, the 2017 NBA finals was a failed rematch. The 2016 finals (more on that later) was a legendary series. Meanwhile the 2017 finals between the same teams, the Cavaliers and Warriors, ended in just five games. The difference between the two series was that the Warriors had signed Kevin Durant in the 2016 offseason. The Cavaliers, like many teams, had no way of guarding the Warriors with Durant. 

Photo via KNBR

6 – 2020 NBA finals

In the middle of a global pandemic and a polarized political state you had the 2020 NBA finals. From the western conference you had the first seed Lakers led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Meanwhile the east was represented by Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat. The Heat were already less talented, but injuries effectively ended their hopes. The Heat put up a solid fight, taking the series to 6 games, but ultimately lost. 

5- 2015 NBA finals

2015 was the first matchup between the Cavaliers and Warriors. Kevin Love was already confirmed out because of injury for the series before it began. Meanwhile Irving got hurt in game one. This series could’ve been over fast but the Cavs were able to win games two and three thanks to LeBron James’ high scoring numbers and role players stepping up. The Warriors ultimately won the last three games and won the series in six.

4 – 2019 NBA finals

The Warriors were looking for a three peat while the Raptors were looking for their first championship. Kevin Durant was out for the first four games, leading the Warriors to fall down three games to one. Durant returned in game five, but tore his achilles in the first quarter. He did provide a scoring boost which led to a game five victory. Ultimately, the Raptors would secure the series in six games. Kawhi Leonard secured the finals MVP, a cherry on top to one of the best playoff runs in NBA history. 

3 – 2021 NBA finals

The Suns made a big trade for Chris Paul in the 2020 offseason. This trade paid off in year one as the Suns made the NBA finals. Meanwhile the Bucks coming off an embarrassing second round exit in 2020 made it to the finals to represent the east. The trade for Jrue Holiday helped make the team more complete. The Bucks fell down two games to zero, but poor play from the Suns and great play from Giannis Antetokounmpo led to the Bucks championship. In game six, Antetokounmpo had 50 points, the first 50 point game in a closeout game since Bob Pettit. 

Photo via NBA

2 – 2022 NBA finals

The Warriors made it back to the NBA finals for the first time since 2019. Despite not being as talented they still had plenty of good role players and more experience than anyone. The Celtics made it to the NBA finals for the first time since 2010. The Celtics were able to take a series lead two games to one. However, Stephen Curry played some of his best basketball to help secure the Warriors title and place in NBA history. The Celtics also showed their lack of experience, as their star Jayson Tatum had a very poor series. 

1 – 2016 NBA finals

A series that will forever live in NBA and sports history. The Warriors went 73-9 in the regular season. They took a commanding three games to one lead over the Cavaliers. However, after two 40 point performances in game five and six by LeBron James the Cavs forced a game seven. Game seven was a hyper competitive game that saw Kyrie Irving hit the biggest shot of his career and James get an iconic block on Andre Iguodala. The Cavaliers completed the first three games to one comeback in the NBA finals and got the city of Cleveland its first sports championship in more than 50 years. 

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