With the conference semifinals well under way, it’s time to look at some of the biggest surprises in the history of this round of the playoffs.
The search for upsets begins with the 1970-71 season, when the league was split into conferences for the first time with the addition of three expansion franchises—the Buffalo Braves, Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers.
From 1971 through 1974, the conference semifinals were the first playoff round, as only four teams from the East and West qualified for the postseason. In 1975-76, there were five teams in the playoffs, with the fourth and fifth seeds meeting in a best-of-3 first-round series.
Beginning in 1977 and continuing through 1983, coinciding with the addition of four franchises from the old American Basketball Association, the playoffs expanded to six teams per conference, with the division winners receiving a bye to the conference semifinals.
Finally, in 1984, the playoffs were expanded to 16 teams, where they remain today.
So with that, the 10 biggest upsets in the history of the conference semifinals: