On April 18, 1976, history was made, as the Buffalo Braves beat the Philadelphia 76ers 124-123 in overtime to win their first playoff series in franchise history.
Buffalo squeaked out the first game of the best-of-three series, 95-89, before the Sixers won Game 2 131-106. That set the scene for the decisive Game 3, and the Clippers were ferocious in the dying minutes and overtime to ensure they would move on.
The happiness was short-lived on a few fronts: The Braves fell to eventual champion Boston Celtics in the following round, four games to two, and the Braves were inching closer to a permanent divorce from Buffalo amid considerable drama and turmoil.
One interesting note about the head coach of this team, Jack Ramsay. His career was somewhat reminiscent of Larry Brown’s a couple decades later. Ramsay bounced around a bit and found some modest success with the Sixers before joining Buffalo and leading them to three playoff berths in four seasons. After leaving Buffalo following the 1976 playoffs, he went to the Portland Trail Blazers, who had never previously reached the playoffs, and won the NBA title in 1977.
In 1978, the Braves moved to San Diego and became the Clippers, before moving to Los Angeles in 1984. After winning that playoff series in 1976, the Clippers didn’t even go to the playoffs again until 1992, and didn’t win another series until 2006. 30 years! On the bright side, the Clips have been to the playoffs seven of the last eight seasons, so this is truly the time to be enjoying the uptick in fortunes after a long, long downturn for the Braves/Clippers.