1994 Knicks/Rockets Finals (nin-teen' nin'-tee-for niks-rahk'-its fi'-nuls) noun. An example of and comparison point for any low-scoring playoff series that is generally regarded as boring and possibly unwatchable.

Usage example: Watching the Cavaliers/Pistons series is almost as painful as the 1994 Knicks/Rockets Finals.

Word Trivia: The 1994 NBA Finals was one of the most competitive championship series in league history. It featured a marquee matchup between two superstar centers (Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing) and a cast of other all-star-caliber players (Robert Horry, Sam Cassell, Mario Elie, Charles Oakley, Doc Rovers, Derek Harper, Rolando Blackman). It lasted the full seven games, and there wasn't a single blowout; none of the games were decided by more than nine points, and Games 6 and 7 were decided by two and six points respectively. Olajuwon outplayed Ewing on offense (27 PPG on 50 percent shooting versus 19 PPG on 36 percent shooting), but Ewing was a defensive monster, setting an NBA Finals record with 30 blocked shots, including a record-tying eight blocks in Game 5. However, this series is poorly regarded by most NBA fans for the following reasons:

1. Star bust: It was the first NBA Finals of the first post-Jordan era, and the first final series since 1978-79 that didn't feature Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and/or Michael Jordan. Due to the absence of an nationally recognized fan favorite, many casual fans were uninterested in the series and therefore neglected to watch it. The series was further marred by Ewing's poor play, John Starks' 2-for-18 shooting performance in Game 7, and the fact that Olajuwon -- who was named Finals MVP -- submitted a performance that was very good in its own right, but hardly among the all-time greats.

2. Defense wins championships...not ratings: The series revolved around defense and, for that reason, the scores were painfully low. In fact, neither team scored more than 93 points in a single game. The scores were as follows: Game 1 - 85-78; Game 2 - 91-83, Game 3 - 93-89; Game 4 - 91-82; Game 5 - 91-84; Game 6 - 86-84; Game 7 - 90-84. Game 6 was the only time a player scored as many as 30 points, when Olajuwon had exactly 30. It was basically a case of two teams walking the ball up the court, tossing it into the post, and four guys spotting up beyond the arc and waiting for the return pass while the centers beat the hell out of each other.

3. The juice was on the loose: The series had the misfortune of being played during the onset of the the O.J. Simpson murder case. During Game 5, NBC split coverage between the game and Simpson's freeway chase with the LAPD. While the Knicks and Rockets were battling down to the wire, the national attention was focused elsewhere.

And so, despite the many rule changes that were instituted specifically to irradicate this kind of grind-it-out basketball, there are still one or two playoff series each year that are highly reminiscent of the '94 Finals (most notably the 2005 Pistons/Spurs Finals, which nearly qualified as an historical recreation). And it's then, like clockwork, that everybody harkens back to the series that defined the term "boring series."

Knicks-Rockets Finals
We know these guys were watching.
But only because they had to.

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Anonymous caseta said...
"neither team scored more than 91 points in a single game"
promptly followed by
"Game 3 - 93-89"

Anyway, i've seen those games and i think they were nowhere as boring as the Spurs - Pistons of 2005 (where there were 4 blowouts in the first 4 games) or as the Pacers - Pistons series from a few years ago.

It was also very interesting to watch Hakeem battle not only Ewing, but Oakley, Mason and Charles Smith too.

Much more interesting then seeing the Pacers and Pistons brick shots after shots in the ECF in 2004.
85 points were the most scored by any team in those series.

g1: ind-det 78-74
g2: ind-det 67-72
g3: ind-det 78-85
g4: ind-det 83-68
g5: ind-det 65-83
g6: ind-det 65-69

The funny thing is that the lowest score of the Knicks - Rockets series (85-78 in game 1) is the highest score of the Pistons - Pacers series (game 3).

Blogger Basketbawful said...
caseta --

Oops indeed. See, this is why you never buy a car that was built on Friday, and why blog posts that are written on Friday probably need to be reread before getting published. Thanks for the heads up, though; I've updated the post.

And I agree with you. The Knicks/Rockets Finals wasn't nearly as bad as the later Knicks/Heat series, nor the Pacers/Pistons series you mentioned, and, of course, the Pistons/Spurs Finals. Yet Knicks/Rockets is almost universally reviled as the worst and most boring Finals in recent memory. And like I said, I think that's in large part due to the fact that people were suffering severe Michael Jordan hangover.

Blogger Chris said...
hey, no mj, larry, or magic in the pistons vs. blazers final of 1990

Anonymous brandon said...
It was the style of play that killed that Knicks-Rockets final. This was back in the days of no-zone-defence, remember. You could play endless games of kick-it-into-the-post, kick-it-out-of-the-post etc trying to lure the other team into (a) doubleteaming your center, leaving a wide open 3, or (b) single-coverage on your center, leading to a post move, or (c) illegal defence call if the other side got caught in between. The Knicks and the Rockets were both incredibly successful at this, having centers who could score on the blocks, big rebounding forwards and fleets of 3 pt shooters on the perimeter. They just passed the ball in and out of the post until there were 5 or 6 seconds left on the clock and then took what they could get. This style of basketball was incredibly boring. Thankfully the series featured close games and the wonderful 2-18 performance by John Starks, which coined the phrase "Starksian" among my friends - i.e. a shooter who just keeps shooting despite the fact that he is having the worst shooting day of his life. Usage "if he misses his first few shots, just stop passing it to him, he's totally Starksian."

Blogger Ry said...
Whatever -- I remember enthusiastically watching all seven games of this series. And if you take MJ out of the picture, suddenly Hakeem becomes the most dominant player of his era. Everyone remember what he did to Big Bunny in the Finals as the Rockettes swept the Magic? Or what he did to the Admiral after Davey Boy collected his MVP hardware? I think Robinson's still in therapy. The Dream may have given birth to the phrase "use and abuse." (Yeah, I know he didn't... just sayin')

Anonymous D$ said...
The 94 finals were probably my favourite ever. Every game was tense, every play mattered, and watching the two best players at their position really go at one another for seven games was amazing. Thinking about it, I don't know if I've ever seen an NBA finals where the two best players at one position faced off like that. Any suggestions?