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1995 NBA Finals

1995 NBA Finals
Team Coach Wins
Houston Rockets Rudy Tomjanovich 4
Orlando Magic Brian Hill 0
Dates June 7–14
MVP Hakeem Olajuwon
(Houston Rockets)
Television NBC (U.S.)
Announcers Marv Albert, Matt Guokas, and Bill Walton
Game 1: Dick Bavetta, Joe Crawford, Steve Javie
Game 2: Dan Crawford, Hue Hollins, Ed T. Rush
Game 3: Hugh Evans, Mike Mathis, Bennett Salvatore
Game 4: Joe Crawford, Jess Kersey, Bill Oakes
Hall of Famers Rockets:
Clyde Drexler (2004)
Hakeem Olajuwon (2008)
Dick Bavetta (2015)
Eastern Finals Magic defeat Pacers, 4-3
Western Finals Rockets defeat Spurs, 4-2

The 1995 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1994–95 NBA season. The series pitted the Orlando Magic against the Houston Rockets. The pre-series hype and build-up of the Finals was centered on the meeting of the two centers Shaquille O'Neal of the Magic and Hakeem Olajuwon of the Rockets. Going into the series the matchup was compared to the Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain matchup of the 1960s.

The Rockets became the first team in NBA history to win the championship as a sixth seed. In addition, they became the first team in NBA history to beat four 50-win teams in a single postseason en route to the championship. The Rockets would win a playoff-record nine road games in the 1995 playoffs. In addition, the Rockets' sweep of the Magic was unique, in the fact that it was a "reverse sweep," where Houston won Games 1 and 2 on the road and 3 and 4 at home. It was also the second NBA Finals sweep in the 2-3-2 Finals format. The Rockets also became the first repeat NBA Champion in history to keep the title with a sweep. In addition, the Rockets became the first team in NBA history to win the title without having home-court advantage in any of the four playoff rounds since the playoffs was expanded to a 16 team format in 1984. Coincidentally, this feat would also be achieved by the New Jersey Devils that same year, when they won the Stanley Cup over the Detroit Red Wings.

The Orlando Magic (making their first ever NBA Finals appearance) began the 1995 NBA Finals at home, hosting the defending champion Houston Rockets. With the Magic up by three points late in Game 1, Nick Anderson missed four consecutive free throws in the closing seconds of the game, and Kenny Smith hit a three-pointer, tying the game and sending it to overtime as well as setting a new record with the most three-pointers in an NBA Finals game with seven. The more experienced Rockets went on to win in overtime and eventually swept the Magic, winning their second consecutive NBA Championship.

The season-ending documentary Double Clutch by Hal Douglas, was released by NBA Entertainment to coincide with the Rockets' championship season.


  • Background 1
    • Road to the Finals 1.1
    • Regular season series 1.2
  • Starting Lineups 2
  • 1995 NBA Finals roster 3
    • 1995 Houston Rockets 3.1
    • 1995 Orlando Magic 3.2
  • Series summary 4
    • Game 1 4.1
    • Game 2 4.2
    • Game 3 4.3
    • Game 4 4.4
  • Olajuwon vs. O'Neal 5
  • Quotes of the Finals 6
  • Aftermath 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The Orlando Magic entered the NBA as an expansion franchise in the 1989–90 season. The Magic built the core of their team through the draft, beginning with original pick Nick Anderson in 1989, followed by Dennis Scott in 1990, Shaquille O'Neal in 1992, and Penny Hardaway in 1993. Brian Hill was hired as head coach in 1993, and led them to the playoffs for the first time in 1994, but it was not until the 1995 playoffs that the Magic finally achieved their full potential. With the addition of veteran forward Horace Grant and point guard Brian Shaw, the Magic won a franchise-record 57 games, and then defeated the Boston Celtics in four games, the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in six, and then the Indiana Pacers in seven games to advance to their first NBA Finals in franchise history.

Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets struggled to regain the form that won them the NBA championship the previous year, mainly due to injuries and off-court distractions. Despite the midseason acquisition of Clyde Drexler, a former teammate of Olajuwon at the University of Houston, the Rockets only managed to win 47 games and earned the sixth seed in the Western Conference. However, the Rockets returned to the Finals after upsetting the Utah Jazz in five games, then overcame a 3–1 deficit to beat the Phoenix Suns in seven games, before defeating the San Antonio Spurs in six games. The Rockets' return to the Finals came at a perfect time as the team was back at full strength while their teamwork and clutch play was displayed in every series.

Road to the Finals

Houston Rockets (Western Conference Champion) Orlando Magic (Eastern Conference Champion)
# Western Conference
1 z-San Antonio Spurs 62 20 .756
2 y-Phoenix Suns 59 23 .720 3
3 x-Utah Jazz 60 22 .732 2
4 x-Seattle SuperSonics 57 25 .695 5
5 x-Los Angeles Lakers 48 34 .585 14
6 x-Houston Rockets 47 35 .573 15
7 x-Portland Trail Blazers 44 38 .537 18
8 x-Denver Nuggets 41 41 .500 21
9 Sacramento Kings 39 43 .476 23
10 Dallas Mavericks 36 46 .439 26
11 Golden State Warriors 26 56 .317 36
12 Minnesota Timberwolves 21 61 .256 41
13 Los Angeles Clippers 17 65 .207 45
6th seed in the West, 11th best league record
Regular season
# Eastern Conference
1 c-Orlando Magic 57 25 .695
2 y-Indiana Pacers 52 30 .634 5
3 x-New York Knicks 55 27 .671 2
4 x-Charlotte Hornets 50 32 .610 7
5 x-Chicago Bulls 47 35 .573 10
6 x-Cleveland Cavaliers 43 39 .524 14
7 x-Atlanta Hawks 42 40 .512 15
8 x-Boston Celtics 35 47 .427 22
9 Milwaukee Bucks 34 48 .415 23
10 Miami Heat 32 50 .390 25
11 New Jersey Nets 30 52 .366 27
12 Detroit Pistons 28 54 .341 29
13 Philadelphia 76ers 24 58 .293 33
14 Washington Bullets 21 61 .256 36
1st seed in the East, 4th best league record
Defeated the (3) Utah Jazz, 3–2 First Round Defeated the (8) Boston Celtics, 3–1
Defeated the (2) Phoenix Suns, 4–3 Conference Semifinals Defeated the (5) Chicago Bulls, 4–2
Defeated the (1) San Antonio Spurs, 4–2 Conference Finals Defeated the (2) Indiana Pacers, 4–3

Regular season series

The Orlando Magic won both games in the regular season series:

Starting Lineups

Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame ‡
Houston Position Orlando
Kenny Smith PG Penny Hardaway
Mario Elie SG Nick Anderson
Clyde Drexler SF Donald Royal
Robert Horry PF Horace Grant
Hakeem Olajuwon C Shaquille O'Neal

1995 NBA Finals roster

1995 Houston Rockets

1995 Orlando Magic

Series summary

Game Date Home Team Result Road Team TV Time
Game 1 Wednesday, June 7 Orlando Magic 118-120 OT (0-1) Houston Rockets 9:00et
Game 2 Friday, June 9 Orlando Magic 106-117 (0-2) Houston Rockets 9:00et
Game 3 Sunday, June 11 Houston Rockets 106-103 (3-0) Orlando Magic 7:00et
Game 4 Wednesday, June 14 Houston Rockets 113-101 (4-0) Orlando Magic 9:00et
  • This was the second NBA Finals that ended in a 4-game sweep since the Finals went to the 2-3-2 format in 1985 (1989 was the first).
All times are in Eastern Daylight Time (UTC−4).

Game 1

June 7
9:00 pm
Houston Rockets 120, Orlando Magic 118 (OT)
Scoring by quarter: 19–30, 31–31, 37–19, 23–30, OT: 10–8
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 31
Rebs: Clyde Drexler 11
Asts: Kenny Smith 9
Pts: Hardaway, O'Neal 26 each
Rebs: Grant, O'Neal 16 each
Asts: Shaquille O'Neal 9
Houston leads the series, 1–0
Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: 16,010
  • No. 27 Dick Bavetta
  • No. 17 Joe Crawford
  • No. 29 Steve Javie

Nick Anderson misses four consecutive free throws with 3 seconds left in regulation, Kenny Smith hit a then-Finals record seven 3-pointers, the last tying the game up at 110 with 1.6 seconds left following Anderson's missed foul shots. In overtime, Hakeem Olajuwon tips in a missed finger roll by Clyde Drexler with three-tenths of a second left to win the game.

Game 2

June 9
9:00 pm
Houston Rockets 117, Orlando Magic 106
Scoring by quarter: 28–19, 35–22, 27–30, 27–35
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 34
Rebs: Hakeem Olajuwon 11
Asts: Clyde Drexler 5
Pts: Shaquille O'Neal 33
Rebs: Shaquille O'Neal 12
Asts: Anfernee Hardaway 8
Houston leads the series, 2–0[1]
Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: 16,010
  • No. 43 Dan Crawford
  • No. 42 Hue Hollins
  • No. 4 Ed T. Rush

Game 3

June 11
7:00 pm
Orlando Magic 103, Houston Rockets 106
Scoring by quarter: 30–28, 23–26, 22–21, 28–31
Pts: Shaquille O'Neal 28
Rebs: Anderson, Grant, O'Neal 10 each
Asts: Anfernee Hardaway 14
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 31
Rebs: Hakeem Olajuwon 14
Asts: Drexler, Olajuwon 7 each
Houston leads the series, 3–0[2]
The Summit, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 16,611
  • No. 25 Hugh Evans
  • No. 13 Mike Mathis
  • No. 15 Bennett Salvatore

Robert Horry hits a 3-pointer to give Houston a 104-100 lead with 14.1 seconds left.

Game 4

June 14
9:00 pm
Orlando Magic 101, Houston Rockets 113
Scoring by quarter: 21–23, 30–24, 25–30, 25–36
Pts: Hardaway, O'Neal 25 each
Rebs: Grant, O'Neal 12 each
Asts: Anfernee Hardaway 5
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 35
Rebs: Hakeem Olajuwon 15
Asts: Clyde Drexler 8
Houston wins the series, 4–0[3]
The Summit, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 16,611
  • No. 17 Joe Crawford
  • No. 20 Jess Kersey
  • No. 21 Bill Oakes

Olajuwon outscores O'Neal by 10 points and caps off the sweep by hitting a memorable yet uncharacteristic 3-pointer in front of O'Neal.

Olajuwon vs. O'Neal

Although both centers played well, Olajuwon is generally considered to have outplayed O'Neal. Olajuwon outscored O'Neal in every game of the series and became one of the few players in NBA history to score at least 30 points in every game of an NBA Finals series:[4][5]

1995 NBA Finals Gm 1 Gm 2 Gm 3 Gm 4 Totals
Hakeem Olajuwon 31 34 31 35 32.8 ppg
Shaquille O'Neal 26 33 28 25 28.0 ppg

By winning his second straight NBA Finals MVP award, Hakeem Olajuwon became the sixth player to win the award on multiple occasions, joining Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan. Jordan and Olajuwon at the time were the only players to win the award consecutively.

Quotes of the Finals

Don't ever underestimate the heart of a champion!
— Houston Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich, on the floor of The Summit after winning the championship.
Drexler puts the move on Anderson. Drexler with the finger-roll, the tip by Olajuwon! The Rockets lead, three-tenths of a second remaining. What a tip by Hakeem Olajuwon!
— NBC announcer Marv Albert after Hakeem Olajuwon tipped in a missed shot by Clyde Drexler to give the Rockets a victory in Game 1.
Smith circles out back, instead they give it to Drexler. Drexler driving, he goes, he puts it up, OH THE REBOUND! TIPPED IN! TIPPED IN! TIPPED IN BY HAKEEM! The Houston Rockets have stunned the Orlando Magic, and they win Game 1 of the NBA Finals in stunning fashion.
— NBA Radio announcer Joe McConnell on the aforementioned play.
The Houston Rockets have won their second consecutive NBA Championship, they have swept the Orlando Magic!
— NBC announcer Marv Albert after Game 4.
Clyde, this was your third trip to the finals and the third time was the charm.
— NBC sportscaster Bob Costas on Clyde Drexler winning his first ring after Game 4.


The Rockets' championship reign would end in 1996, where they were swept by the Seattle SuperSonics in four games of the second round. The Sonics were also the last team to beat the Rockets in the playoffs prior to their two-year championship reign, when they defeated them in seven games of the second round in 1993. That year, the Rockets won 48 games and achieved the fourth seed. The following offseason, the Rockets attempted to make it back to the finals by adding former NBA MVP Charles Barkley. However, age and injuries would take its toll, and the closest the Rockets would achieve after their two-year championship reign was a six-game loss to the Utah Jazz in the 1997 Western Conference Finals. In 2015, the Rockets now were led by James Harden and Dwight Howard, reaching the West Finals against Golden State Warriors.

The Magic would have another strong season in 1996 winning 60 games. However, they were swept by the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, who would go on to win the NBA championship after registering a league-record 72 wins. The following offseason, Shaquille O'Neal joined the Los Angeles Lakers, and went on to win NBA titles with the team in 2000, 2001 and 2002. The Magic would not make it back to the finals until 2009.


  1. ^ Roarin' Rockets send Magic reeling , 2-0 Manila Standard June 11, 1995
  2. ^ Houston poised for sweep Manila Standard June 13, 1995
  3. ^ Two-rrific Two-ston Manila Standard June 16, 1995
  4. ^ History of the NBA Finals: Hakeem Olajuwon: The NBA’s Best In The Mid ’90s,, accessed February 16, 2007.
  5. ^ NBA Finals Records,, accessed February 16, 2007.

External links

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