Unforgettable NBA Finals Underdog Triumphs

NBA Finals: Unforgettable Cinderella Stories

The NBA Finals is a highly anticipated annual event that showcases the best teams and players competing for the prestigious NBA championship. While powerhouse teams are often favored to win, the history of the NBA has witnessed several unexpected and profitable victories from underdog teams. These Cinderella stories not only captivate fans but also reward loyal sports bettors with significant payouts. In this article, we will explore some recent NBA Finals where teams defied the odds and emerged victorious, surprising naysayers and creating memorable moments.

2019: Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors

The Toronto Raptors entered the 2019 NBA Finals as underdogs, facing the formidable Golden State Warriors. Despite their strong regular season performances over the past decade, the Raptors had struggled in the playoffs, never reaching the Eastern Conference Finals until this crucial period. However, a series of strategic moves, including acquiring superstar Kawhi Leonard, brought new hope to the team.

The Raptors embarked on an impressive playoff journey, stunning basketball fans with remarkable victories over powerhouse teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks. As they faced the reigning champions, the Warriors, in the Finals, little faith was placed in their ability to triumph. The media and oddsmakers overwhelmingly favored the star-studded Warriors lineup.

Yet, Kawhi Leonard, fondly known as the “Fun Guy,” stepped up to the challenge once again. With an average of 30 points per game, Leonard’s remarkable performances, particularly his 36-point, 12-rebound display in Game 4 on the road, solidified the Raptors’ historic victory. In just six games, Toronto secured their first-ever NBA championship, bringing immense pride to Canada and earning Leonard his second career NBA Finals MVP award.

2015: Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers

The Golden State Warriors, who later established themselves as a dominant force in the league, had a different storyline just four years prior when they faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 NBA Finals. Historically, the Warriors had struggled for success, failing to advance beyond the playoffs’ second round for over four decades. Despite an impressive 67-15 regular season record, they were considered underdogs against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, who were making their fifth consecutive Finals appearance.

The Cavaliers gained early momentum, taking a 2-1 series lead. However, led by their star player, Steph Curry, the Warriors mounted a remarkable comeback, winning three consecutive games with an average margin of 14 points. Defying expectations, Golden State not only secured their first NBA championship since 1975 but also handed LeBron James his second straight Finals loss.

2011: Dallas Mavericks vs Miami Heat

The Dallas Mavericks’ journey to the 2011 NBA Finals was marked by years of regular season success but playoff disappointments. Despite consistently winning 50 or more games per season for 11 consecutive years, the Mavericks had only reached the Finals once between 2000 and 2010, often prematurely exiting the playoffs. As the 2010-2011 season approached, they were considered distant contenders, with +2000 odds of winning the NBA title.

However, the Mavericks had a game-changer in Dirk Nowitzki during that year’s NBA Playoffs. Nowitzki’s exceptional performance not only shattered the team’s playoff reputation but also reshaped the perception of European players in the NBA. With impressive regular-season performances and crucial victories against star players such as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, Nowitzki led the Mavericks to a Finals showdown against LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Despite the Heat’s star-studded lineup, featuring James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, the Mavericks defied expectations. Nowitzki’s unparalleled talent and determination showcased his ability to dominate the game. With an average of 32.2 points per game, including two games with over 40 points, Nowitzki led the Mavericks to a series victory in six games, stunning the Heat and bringing home the NBA championship to Dallas.


The NBA Finals have witnessed numerous Cinderella stories, where underdog teams emerged victorious against all odds. The 2019 Toronto Raptors, led by Kawhi Leonard, captured the hearts of basketball fans worldwide with their historic championship win. The 2015 Golden State Warriors, despite a prolonged history of struggle, overcame LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to secure their first title in decades. Meanwhile, the 2011 Dallas Mavericks, powered by Dirk Nowitzki’s brilliance, defied expectations and triumphed over the Miami Heat’s superstar trio.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How often do underdog teams win the NBA Finals?

While underdog victories in the NBA Finals are less frequent than those of favored teams, they do occur, providing memorable and captivating moments in the history of the sport. The NBA’s competitive nature ensures that any team, regardless of their underdog status, has the potential to rise to the occasion and secure victory.

2. What factors contribute to underdog teams’ success in the NBA Finals?

Several factors can contribute to underdog teams’ success in the NBA Finals. These may include the emergence of star players who perform exceptionally well under pressure, strategic offseason moves, cohesive team dynamics, effective coaching strategies, and exploiting the weaknesses of their favored opponents.

3. How do underdog victories impact the NBA landscape?

Underdog victories in the NBA Finals have a profound impact on the league. They inspire hope for all teams, reinforcing the idea that any franchise has the potential to overcome adversity and achieve greatness. These victories also generate excitement among fans, increasing overall interest in the sport and attracting new viewership.

4. Are underdog teams in the NBA Finals more likely to be profitable for sports bettors?

Underdog teams in the NBA Finals can offer lucrative opportunities for sports bettors. As oddsmakers typically favor the more dominant teams, wagering on underdogs often results in higher payouts. However, it is essential for bettors to thoroughly analyze the odds, evaluate the teams’ strengths and weaknesses, and consider various factors before placing their bets.

5. What other memorable underdog stories exist in NBA Finals history?

Aside from the aforementioned examples, there have been several other memorable underdog stories in NBA Finals history. The 2004 Detroit Pistons defeating the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers and the 1978 Washington Bullets overcoming the Seattle SuperSonics are just a few instances where underdog teams shocked the world with their resilience and determination.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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