How Jimmy Butler, No. 8 Heat made history with upset of No. 1 Bucks


History has been made at the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

The No. 8 Miami Heat beat the No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks 128-126 in a thrilling Game 5 on Wednesday to move on to the second round.

They became the latest No. 8 seed to eliminate a No. 1 in doing so, and also became the first ever play-in tournament team to win a series.

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Despite respective injuries to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Tyler Herro, it was the Heat who overcame the adversity with Jimmy Butler leading the way, including dropping 56 points in Game 4 at home. He then had 42 in the overtime Game 5 win in Milwaukee to make history.

Now the Heat's series win has the basketball spectrum wondering: How many times has a No. 8 seed eliminated a No. 1?

Has a No. 8 seed ever upset a No. 1 seed in the NBA playoffs?

Prior to the Heat's win in 2023, four No. 8 seeds had advanced past No. 1 seeds in Round 1 of the playoffs, beginning with the No. 8 Nuggets’ victory over the No. 1 SuperSonics during the 1994 season.

The No. 8 Knicks also threw an unexpected competition in the works when they defeated the No. 1 Heat in the 1999 playoffs.

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The trend continued with the No. 8 Warriors’ win over the No. 1 Mavericks in 2007 and the No. 8 Grizzlies’ win over the No. 1 Spurs in 2011.

During the 1997-98 season, the Knicks also had an exciting run, but this time, they did not just defeat a No. 1 seed in Round 1. The Knicks flew all the way to the NBA Finals. After defeating No. 1 Miami in Round 1 and No. 4 Atlanta in Round 2, the Knicks moved on to the conference finals, where they defeated the No. 2 Pacers and went on to the Finals against the No. 3 Spurs. Though they lost in five games, this made the Knicks the first No. 8 seed to make the NBA Finals in history.

Miami in 2023 will now play the No. 5-seeded Knicks in the second round to attempt to top that historic achievement.

But not only have No. 8 seeds upset No. 1 seeds. Thus far, five No. 7 seeds have made their mark by upsetting No. 2 seeds as well. The first time was the 1986-87 Seattle SuperSonics’ victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Round 1, and the most recent instance was the 2009-10 San Antonio Spurs upsetting the Mavs in the first round.

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