1997 NBA Playoffs
The 1997 NBA Playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1996-97 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Chicago Bulls defeating the Western Conference champion Utah Jazz 4 games to 2. This was the Bulls' second straight title, and fifth overall (They completed the 3-peat by beating Utah again in 1998). Michael Jordan was named NBA Finals MVP for the fifth time.
This was the first Western Conference Title for the Jazz in their 22-year history.
The Minnesota Timberwolves made their playoff debut after failing to win more than 30 games in their first 7 seasons. For them, it was also the first of 7 straight years in which they made the playoffs only to lose in the first round.
This was the first (and so far, only) time since the ABA–NBA merger that the 4 former ABA teams (Spurs, Nuggets, Pacers, and Nets) missed the playoffs, even more remarkable considering the rarity with which San Antonio has missed the playoffs (only 4 times as of 2013).
All four 1988/89 expansion teams (Minnesota, Miami, Orlando and Charlotte) made the playoffs for the first time. This happened again in 2001.
The two #8 seeds in this tournament (the Bullets and Clippers) broke long playoff droughts with their appearances in the 1997 Playoffs. (The Bullets' last playoff appearance was in 1988; the Clippers in 1993). Unfortunately for both teams, it would be a long time before they made the playoffs again; the renamed Wizards made their return in 2005; the Clippers in 2006.
The Bullets qualified by defeating the Cavs in a regular season finale that saw both teams fighting for the #8 seed.
Game 4 of the Bulls–Hawks series was the last game ever played at The Omni. The Hawks' home playoff games for 1998 and 1999 were played at the Georgia Dome while the Omni was demolished to make way for Philips Arena.
The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena hosted its final NBA playoff game in Game 3 of the Clippers–Jazz series. When the Clippers returned to the playoffs in 2006, they had moved to the Staples Center, their home since the 1999–2000 season. As of 2012, the Sports Arena remains active.
Game 3 of the Bulls–Bullets series was the last game ever played at the Capital Centre (named USAir Arena at the time). As the Bullets changed their name & arena the next season, it was also the last time the team was officially named the "Bullets".
|First Round||Conference Semifinals||Conference Finals||NBA Finals|
Best record in conference
The Utah Jazz clinched the best record in the Western Conference, and had home court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.
Clinched a playoff berth
The following teams clinched a playoff berth in the West:
- Utah Jazz (clinched Midwest division)
- Seattle SuperSonics (clinched Pacific division)
- Houston Rockets
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Phoenix Suns
- Los Angeles Clippers
Best record in NBA
The Chicago Bulls clinched the best record in the NBA, and earned home court advantage throughout the entire playoffs.
Clinched a playoff berth
The following teams clinched a playoff berth in the East:
- Chicago Bulls (clinched Central division)
- Miami Heat (clinched Atlantic division)
- New York Knicks
- Atlanta Hawks
- Detroit Pistons
- Charlotte Hornets
- Orlando Magic
- Washington Wizards
The 1997 NBA Playoffs featured several important clutch shots.
- April 30: Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Bullets, Game 3
Scottie Pippen made the series-winning dunk with 7.4 seconds left as the Bulls sweep the Bullets 96–95 and advance.
With his team trailing 107–104 with 4.3 seconds left, Phoenix guard Rex Chapman took the inbounds pass, launched a 3 while falling out of bounds, and hit it for the tie. However, the Sonics won in OT 122-115.
- May 6: Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks, Game 1
Scottie Pippen broke a tie game at 97 by hitting a 3 with 43.9 seconds left. Neither team scored after that, and the Bulls beat Atlanta 100–97.
Eddie Johnson hit a 3 at the buzzer to tie the series at 2.
- May 29: Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets, Game 6
John Stockton capped off a spectacular 4th quarter performance by hitting a 3 at the buzzer to send Utah to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
- June 1: Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz, Game 1
With the game tied at 82 with 9.2 seconds left, Jazz forward Karl Malone missed two crucial free throws. Chicago regained possession and Michael Jordan hit a jumper at the buzzer to win it 84–82.
- June 13: Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz, Game 6
With most viewers (and Utah defenders) thinking Jordan would take the last shot with the game tied at 86, he instead passed to Steve Kerr, who hit a 17-footer with 5 seconds left. On the next play, Scottie Pippen stole Bryon Russell's inbound pass and rolled the ball to Toni Kukoč, who clinched the title with a dunk.
- For the first time since 1992, a #5 seed did not beat their #4 seeded opponent in the first round.
Champion: Utah Jazz
(1) Utah Jazz vs. (8) Los Angeles Clippers
Last Playoff Meeting: 1992 Western Conference First Round (Utah won 3–2)
|1||April 24||Utah||106||L.A. Clippers||86||1-0||Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah||1|
|2||April 26||Utah||105||L.A. Clippers||99||2-0||Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah||2|
|3||April 28||L.A. Clippers||92||Utah||104||3-0||Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California||3|
|Utah wins series 3–0
(4) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (5) Portland Trail Blazers
Last Playoff Meeting: 1992 Western Conference First Round (Portland won 3–1)
|1||April 25||L.A. Lakers||95||Portland||77||1-0||Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California||1||TNT|
|2||April 27||L.A. Lakers||107||Portland||93||2-0||Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California||2||NBC|
|3||April 30||Portland||98||L.A. Lakers||90||2-1||Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon||3||TNT|
|4||May 2||Portland||91||L.A. Lakers||95||3-1||Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon||4||TNT|
|L.A. Lakers win series 3–1
(2) Seattle SuperSonics vs. (7) Phoenix Suns
Last Playoff Meeting: 1993 Western Conference Finals (Phoenix won 4–3)
|1||April 25||Seattle||101||Phoenix||106||0-1||KeyArena, Seattle, Washington||1|
|2||April 27||Seattle||122||Phoenix||78||1-1||KeyArena, Seattle, Washington||2|
|3||April 29||Phoenix||110||Seattle||103||1-2||America West Arena, Phoenix, Arizona||3|
|4||May 1||Phoenix||115||Seattle||122||2-2||America West Arena, Phoenix, Arizona||4||TNT|
|5||May 3||Seattle||116||Phoenix||92||3-2||KeyArena, Seattle, Washington||5||NBC|
|Seattle wins series 3–2
(3) Houston Rockets vs. (6) Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first playoff meeting between the Timberwolves and Rockets.
|1||April 24||Houston||112||Minnesota||95||1-0||The Summit, Houston, Texas||1|
|2||April 26||Houston||96||Minnesota||84||2-0||The Summit, Houston, Texas||2||NBC|
|3||April 29||Minnesota||120||Houston||125||3-0||Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota||3|
|Houston wins series 3–0
(1) Utah Jazz vs. (4) Los Angeles Lakers
Last Playoff Meeting: 1988 Western Conference Semifinals (Los Angeles won 4-3)
|1||May 4||Utah||93||Los Angeles||77||1-0||Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah||1||NBC|
|2||May 6||Utah||103||Los Angeles||101||2-0||Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah||2|
|3||May 8||Los Angeles||104||Utah||84||2-1||Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California||3|
|4||May 10||Los Angeles||95||Utah||110||3-1||Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California||4||NBC|
|5||May 12||Utah||98||Los Angeles||93||4-1||Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah||5||TNT|
|Utah wins series 4–1
(2) Seattle SuperSonics vs. (3) Houston Rockets
Last Playoff Meeting: 1996 Western Conference Semifinals (Seattle won 4-0)
|1||May 5||Houston||112||Seattle||102||1-0||The Summit, Houston, Texas||1|
|2||May 7||Houston||101||Seattle||106||1-1||The Summit, Houston, Texas||2|
|3||May 9||Seattle||93||Houston||97||2-1||KeyArena, Seattle, Washington||3|
|4||May 11||Seattle||106||Houston||110||3-1||KeyArena, Seattle, Washington||4||NBC|
|5||May 13||Houston||94||Seattle||100||3-2||The Summit, Houston, Texas||5|
|6||May 15||Seattle||99||Houston||96||3-3||KeyArena, Seattle, Washington||6||TNT|
|7||May 17||Houston||96||Seattle||91||4-3||The Summit, Houston, Texas||7||NBC|
|Houston wins series 4–3
(1) Utah Jazz vs. (3) Houston Rockets
Last Playoff Meeting: 1995 Western Conference First Round (Houston won 3-2)
|1||May 19||Utah||101||Houston||86||1-0||Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah||1||NBC|
|2||May 21||Utah||104||Houston||92||2-0||Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah||2||NBC|
|3||May 23||Houston||118||Utah||100||2-1||The Summit, Houston, Texas||3||NBC|
|4||May 25||Houston||95||Utah||92||2-2||The Summit, Houston, Texas||4||NBC|
|5||May 27||Utah||96||Houston||91||3-2||Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah||5||NBC|
|6||May 29||Houston||100||Utah||103||4-2||The Summit, Houston, Texas||6||NBC|
|Utah wins series 4–2
- In Game 4, Eddie Johnson hits the game-winning 3-pointer.
- In Game 6, John Stockton hits the series-winning 3-pointer.
Champion: Chicago Bulls
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (8) Washington Bullets
Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first playoff meeting between the Bulls and Bullets/Wizards franchise.
|1||April 25||Chicago||98||Washington||86||1-0||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||1||TNT|
|2||April 27||Chicago||109||Washington||104||2-0||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||2||NBC|
|3||April 30||Washington||95||Chicago||96||3-0||US Airways Arena, Landover, Maryland||3||TNT|
|Chicago wins series 3–0
(4) Atlanta Hawks vs. (5) Detroit Pistons
Last Playoff Meeting: 1991 Eastern Conference First Round (Detroit won 3-2)
|1||April 25||Atlanta||89||Detroit||75||1-0||Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia||1|
|2||April 27||Atlanta||80||Detroit||93||1-1||Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia||2|
|3||April 29||Detroit||99||Atlanta||91||1-2||The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan||3|
|4||May 2||Detroit||82||Atlanta||94||2-2||Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan||4|
|5||May 4||Atlanta||84||Detroit||79||3-2||Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia||5||NBC|
|Atlanta wins series 3–2
(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Orlando Magic
Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first playoff meeting between the Magic and Heat.
|1||April 24||Miami||99||Orlando||64||1-0||Miami Arena, Miami, Florida||1|
|2||April 27||Miami||104||Orlando||87||2-0||Miami Arena, Miami, Florida||2||NBC|
|3||April 29||Orlando||88||Miami||75||2-1||Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida||3||TBS|
|4||May 1||Orlando||99||Miami||91||2-2||Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida||4||TNT|
|5||May 4||Miami||91||Orlando||83||3-2||Miami Arena, Miami, Florida||5||NBC|
|Miami wins series 3–2
(3) New York Knicks vs. (6) Charlotte Hornets
Last Playoff Meeting: 1993 Eastern Conference Semifinals (New York won 4-1)
|1||April 24||New York||109||Charlotte||99||1-0||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York||1||MSG|
|2||April 26||New York||100||Charlotte||93||2-0||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York||2||NBC|
|3||April 28||Charlotte||95||New York||104||3-0||Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina||3||TNT|
|New York wins series 3–0
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (4) Atlanta Hawks
Last Playoff Meeting: 1993 Eastern Conference First Round (Chicago won 3-0)
|1||May 6||Chicago||100||Atlanta||97||1-0||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||1||TNT|
|2||May 8||Chicago||95||Atlanta||103||1-1||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||2||TNT|
|3||May 10||Atlanta||80||Chicago||100||2-1||Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia||3||NBC|
|4||May 11||Atlanta||80||Chicago||89||3-1||Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia||4||NBC|
|5||May 13||Chicago||107||Atlanta||92||4-1||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||5||TNT|
|Chicago wins series 4–1
(2) Miami Heat vs. (3) New York Knicks
Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first playoff meeting between the Knicks and Heat.
|1||May 7||Miami||79||New York||88||0-1||Miami Arena, Miami, Florida||1||TNT|
|2||May 9||Miami||88||New York||84||1-1||Miami Arena, Miami, Florida||2||TNT|
|3||May 11||New York||77||Miami||73||1-2||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York||3||NBC|
|4||May 12||New York||89||Miami||76||1-3||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York||4||TNT|
|5||May 14||Miami||96||New York||81||2-3||Miami Arena, Miami, Florida||5||TNT|
|6||May 16||New York||90||Miami||95||3-3||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York||6||TNT|
|7||May 18||Miami||101||New York||90||4-3||Miami Arena, Miami, Florida||7||NBC|
|Miami wins series 4–3
- Game 5 featured a fight between P.J. Brown and Charlie Ward, with John Starks, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing, and Allan Houston leaving the bench. Brown was suspended for the rest of the series; Ewing, Houston, and Ward were suspended for Game 6; Johnson and Starks were suspended for Game 7.
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (2) Miami Heat
Last Playoff Meeting: 1996 Eastern Conference First Round (Chicago won 3-0)
|1||May 20||Chicago||84||Miami||77||1-0||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||1||TNT|
|2||May 22||Chicago||75||Miami||68||2-0||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||2||TNT|
|3||May 24||Miami||74||Chicago||98||3-0||Miami Arena, Miami, Florida||3||NBC|
|4||May 26||Miami||87||Chicago||80||3-1||Miami Arena, Miami, Florida||4||NBC|
|5||May 28||Chicago||100||Miami||87||4-1||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||5||NBC|
|Chicago wins series 4–1
Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz
|1||June 1||Chicago||84||Utah||82||1-0||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||1||NBC|
|2||June 4||Chicago||97||Utah||85||2-0||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||2||NBC|
|3||June 6||Utah||104||Chicago||93||2-1||Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah||3||NBC|
|4||June 8||Utah||78||Chicago||73||2-2||Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah||4||NBC|
|5||June 11||Utah||88||Chicago||90||3-2||Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah||5||NBC|
|6||June 13||Chicago||90||Utah||86||4-2||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||6||NBC|
|Chicago wins NBA Finals series 4–2
- In Game 1, Michael Jordan hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer.
- In Game 3, Scottie Pippen tied a then-Finals record with 7 3-pointers.
- In Game 4, John Stockton threw a full-court pass over Michael Jordan to Karl Malone to give Utah the lead for good.
- In Game 5 (The Flu Game), Michael Jordan plays 44 minutes and scores 38 points despite being visibly weak.
- In Game 6, Steve Kerr hits the game-winner with 5 seconds left, then Scottie Pippen steals Bryon Russell's inbounds pass and rolls the ball to Toni Kukoč, who dunks it with 6 tenths left to bring the Finals to a close.