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Eighth Seed and Lovin’ It

Eighth Seed and Lovin’ It

 

Free betting picks usually aren’t wisely spent on wagering on the eighth seeds in the NBA playoffs. Basketball isn’t a sport built for upsets over a long series because, generally speaking, there is a lot more luck involved with hockey than in basketball. However, sneaking into the playoffs hasn’t always been a death sentence since the league expanded the playoffs from 12 to 16 teams in 1984.

 

Until 2003, teams played best-of-five series in the first round, so the top seed could find itself in trouble should it lose the first game at home. However, since moving to the best-of-seven format in 2003, underdogs face a long climb to the Larry O’Brien. Only five teams in NBA history have won at least one playoff series as an eighth seed. Here’s a look at some of the teams that gave it an entertaining run.

No, No, No

The Seattle SuperSonics were the Titans of the early and mid 1990s in the Western Conference. But a loss as the top-seed in 1994 showed maybe Seattle’s postseason performance wasn’t going to stack up to its regular-season success. Denver didn’t sneak into the 1994 playoffs, finishing nine games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers, but earned the eighth seed with a 42-40 record.

 

Seattle, which was 63-19 and had the West’s top record in the first season without having Michael Jordan to worry about out east, jumped out to a 2-0 series lead. However, the Nuggets turned things around in the mile high air. Denver evened the series by winning 110-93 in Game 4 and surviving a 94-85 overtime win in Game 5. The Nuggets clinched the series in a 98-94 overtime game in Seattle.

 

The series proved to be no fluke for Denver, which took fifth-seeded Utah to seven games before bowing out. This series was the coming out party for future pitchman and Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo, who averaged 13.3 points and 12.0 rebounds in 12 playoff games.

1999 was a weird year

Looking at the NBA standings for the 1998-1999 season will confirm the New York Knicks were the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, but it doesn’t tell the full story. In a season that was shortened to 50 games due to a lock, New York started slow before finishing 27-23, making the playoffs by a game over the Charlotte Hornets. Once the 1999 playoffs started, Allan Houston put the Knicks on his back.

 

In the opening-round series against top seed Miami, Houston made the game-winning shot with .8 seconds remaining in Game 5 to send the Knicks to the second round. In 20 playoff games, Houston averaged 18.5 points, 2.7 points and 1.2 steals per game. New York then swept Atlanta in the semifinals and beat Indiana 4-2 to reach the finals.

 

The Knicks remain the only eighth seed to ever reach the finals. New York, however, couldn’t continue the magic against a burgeoning San Antonio dynasty dropping the series in five games.

Bloom off the Rose

The Chicago Bulls were 50-16 in the 2011-12 regular season and appeared to have a real chance to return to the NBA finals for the first time since Michael Jordan left. Derrick Rose, who averaged 21.8 points and 7.9 assists per game, had been strong throughout the season and led a hungry Chicago squad. Philadelphia finished the regular season 35-31 and were lightly regarded.

 

But disaster struck in Game 1. Rose nearly recorded a triple double, finishing with 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but also tore his ACL in a 103-91 win. Philadelphia took advantage of a demoralized Bulls team to push forward. Led by Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala, the 76ers won three straight games to take control of the series.

 

While Chicago would rally in Game 5 to win an ugly 77-69 decision, the 76ers won Game 6 78-77. Iguodala made two free throws with less than five seconds remaining to send Philadelphia to the second round. The 76ers didn’t make life easy on the Celtics in the second round. 

 

Philadelphia won Game 2 in Boston before falling in seven games.

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