DAR Sports Retrospective: 1994 NBA Finals- Houston Rockets vs New York Knicks

By @TrueGodImmortal

After the dominance from the Chicago Bulls for three straight seasons, Michael Jordan retired. Going into the 1993-1994 season, speculation was definitely buzzing as to who would become the front runners and if the Bulls could pull out a 4th consecutive championship. However, this would not be the case, as we saw two fresher teams make the finals, the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks. The 1994 road to the finals for both teams was full of twists and turns, as Houston soundly defeated Portland Trailblazers in the first round, then got taken to 7 games by the Phoenix Suns, before knocking the Jazz out 4-1 to make the finals.

For the Knicks, this was a bit of redemption for them. They had been able to get to the Finals year after years thanks to the Chicago Bulls, and after defeating the New Jersey Nets 3-1 in the first round, they faced the Bulls in the semi-finals. However, the Bulls were without Jordan, as he had been retired, and things looked fairly well for the Knicks to convincingly beat the Bulls finally in the playoffs. However, the Bulls played very well and took it to 7 games, with the Knicks barely taking the series, where they were pushed yet again to a 7 game series against the Indiana Pacers before picking up the victory to head to the Finals.

The Finals were set. The Rockets vs The Knicks. Olajuwon vs Ewing. We had arrived.

The starting lineup for the Rockets featured Kenny Smith, Vernon Maxwell, Robert Horry, Otis Thorpe, and Olujawon. The Knicks starting lineup featured Derek Harper, John Starks, Charles Smith, Charles Oakley, and of course Ewing.

Houston came in with the home court advantage, and with that, Game 1 was up.

*Game 1

-Taking place in The Summit in Houston, game 1 was close throughout, with both Ewing and Olujawon playing well, finishing with 23 points and 28 points respectively, leading their teams in scoring. Oakley led the Knicks in rebounding with 14, while Thorpe led the Rockets in rebounding with 16. The Knicks played hard but it was not their day, as Houston walked away with an 85-78 victory.

*Game 2

Back at The Summit for game 2, and both teams kept it close throughout. John Starks rose to the occasion, scoring 19 points and dishing out 9 assists to help lead the Knicks to a 91-83 victory, while Olujawon finished with 25 points, and Thorpe pulled down 12 rebounds for the Rockets. The series was even at 1-1 now.

*Game 3

-Now, we were headed to New York for games 3, 4 and 5. The Knicks had the home court and despite playing well, couldn't overtake the Rockets. The game was close throughout however, after the Rockets got ahead early in the 1st quarter. Derek Harper played well for the Knicks, scoring 21 points, but Olujawon was in top form, also finishing with 21 points, but 11 rebounds and 7 assists as well. The Rockets win 93-89 and take a 2-1 series lead.

*Game 4

-The Knicks had their backs to the wall at this point. The series was in favor of the Rockets 2-1, with the momentum shifted yet again. How would the Knicks respond? Would the Rockets go even harder to take a 3-1 lead? Olujawon played well, racking up 32 points to lead all scorers, but the Knicks would take this game, led by a 21 point and 5 assist performance from Derek Harper. Oakley would pull down a game high 20 rebounds as the Knicks won 91-82 to even the series yet again 2-2.

*Game 5

-With the series tied up, the last game to be played in New York before the last 2(if necessary) games in Houston was underway. The Knicks played strong, as did the Rockets, as Olujawon finished with 27 points, but this was once again the Knicks' night as they managed to pull out a 2nd straight victory led by Patrick Ewing's 25 point and 12 rebound performance. The Knicks were inching closer to that NBA Title after a 91-84 win that gave them a 3-2 series lead. Could the Knicks pull this one out?

*Game 6

-Back in Houston, with the Knicks in the best position possible, and there was one man who would put a halt to any early Knicks celebration: Hakeem Olujawon. He scored 30 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, leading the charge for the Rockets, while John Starks showed up in this game, scoring 27 points keeping the game close. The Knicks were defeated by only 2 points in a stinging 86-84 loss, as we were set to get a game 7. We hadn't seen a game 7 in some years in the NBA Finals but here we were.

*Game 7 

-Game 7 was yet another close game, as the Knicks went in with a solid focus to bring a championship home, but it is very possible
that having 3 consecutive 7-game series took its toll on the Knicks and caused a bit of fatigue. That didn't stop the Knicks from playing hard as Derek Harper racked up 23 points and 5 assists, while Charles Oakley pulled down 14 rebounds. However, Olujawon would play an excellent game, finishing with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. The Rockets would win the NBA Championship by defeating the Knicks 90-84 in game 7, and of course Olujawon would be named the NBA Finals MVP.

The Knicks vs Rockets was a hell of a series and NBA Finals, with the Rockets just edging them out for the title.

Your 1994 NBA Champions, the Houston Rockets.



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