Biggest Blowout in NBA Finals History: A Full Breakdown

Jun 12, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; General view of the Finals logo on a chair prior to game four of the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Arena.
Jun 12, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; General view of the Finals logo on a chair prior to game four of the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Arena. / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

When most sports fans picture the NBA Finals, they picture iconic moments in close games. Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan's iconic shot in Game 6 in 1998. Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson's so-called "junior, junior skyhook." Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James's block in 2016.

These memories obscure the fact that there has been a lot of slop on basketball's biggest stage. Did you know, for example, that there have only been five NBA Finals Game 7s in the last 30 years?

This article is a celebration of the Finals's unsightlier moments. Here are a few questions about the NBA's championship series beatdowns, answered.

What is the biggest blowout in the history of the NBA Finals?

On June 7, 1998, the Bulls smashed the Utah Jazz 96–54 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals to take a 2–1 series lead.

How did the biggest blowout in the history of the NBA Finals transpire?

Pretty much out of nowhere! Chicago and the Jazz had played in the 1997 Finals and the series was competitive, with no game decided by more than 12 points. Utah won Game 1 in '98 88–85 in overtime, and the Bulls won Game 2 by five.

Chicago led just 17–14 after the first quarter in Game 3 but pushed its lead to 49-31 at the half. The Jazz's final total of 54 points represented, at the time, the lowest point total of the shot-clock era in any game—regular season or postseason.

The Bulls' 42-point margin of victory is an NBA Finals record. Predictably, Jordan led both teams with 24 points.

What are some other notable NBA Finals blowouts?

The second-most lopsided game will be more familiar to younger fans: the Boston Celtics' 131–92 win over the Lakers in Game 6 of the 2008 Finals. That game gave the Celtics their most recent title, and remains basketball's most lopsided championship clincher.

Rounding out the top five biggest Finals margins of victory: Game 3 in 2013 (San Antonio Spurs 113, Miami Heat 77), Game 6 in 1978 (Washington Bullets 117, Seattle SuperSonics 82), Game 1 in 1985 (Boston 148, Los Angeles 114; the so-called Memorial Day Massacre), and Game 1 in 1961 (Celtics 129, St. Louis Hawks 95).


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Patrick Andres

PATRICK ANDRES

Patrick Andres has been a Staff Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated since 2022. Before SI, his work appeared in The Blade, Athlon Sports, Fear the Sword, and Diamond Digest. Patrick has covered everything from zero-attendance Big Ten basketball to a seven-overtime college football game. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.