Update: For the sixth time in NBA playoff history, a No. 8 seed has defeated a No. 1 seed. The Heat successfully came back in Game 5 to take out the Bucks 4-1 and advance to the second round.
The No. 8 seed Miami Heat, behind a 56-point performance from superstar Jimmy Butler, took a 3-1 lead over the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks Monday night in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs. The Bucks did get Giannis Antetokounmpo back for Game 4 and held a double-digit lead with six minutes before eventually losing 119-114. That leads us to this statistic.
We repeat: Teams that go up 3-1 in a best-of-seven series in NBA history are 258-13 ... for a winning percentage of .952.— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 25, 2023
Jimmy Butler's Heat will take a 3-1 lead to Milwaukee for Game 5. https://t.co/R5UsFdDCUg
Teams going 3-1 has happened enough, but it rarely happens with the No. 8 seed holding the advantage over a No. 1 seed. There have been five instances prior to the 2023 playoffs where the No. 8 seed has defeated the No. 1 seed in the first round. And all five have happened relatively recently.
The 1994 Seattle SuperSonics were the first No. 1 seed to lose in the first round, going down against the Denver Nuggets. The 1999 New York Knicks defeated the Heat in the first round en route to becoming the first No. 8 seed to make the NBA Finals.
The Dallas Mavericks were the No. 1 seed in the 2007 playoffs after losing the Finals the previous year, and promptly got bounced by the No. 8 Golden State Warriors. Even the dynastic San Antonio Spurs weren’t immune to the 1-8 upset, falling to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2011. The No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls lost to the No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers in the first round 2012 after Derrick Rose’s ACL injury in Game 1.
Will the Heat become the fifth team to spring an upset as the No. 8 seed? DraftKings Sportsbook lists Miami at -145 to win the series, the first time the Heat have been favorites to advance in this matchup.