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4th seed in NBA Playoffs has mixed history, as Wizards hope to break trends

4th seed in NBA Playoffs has mixed history, as Wizards hope to break trends

The Wizards were the first team in the Eastern Conference to solidify their playoff seed, as the Raptors beating the Knicks on Sunday ensured that Washington will be No. 4. As for who they will play in the first round, which teams will earn the two final playoff spots, and who will lock down the top seed in the East: that has all not been determined.

So, what about this fourth seed? It turns out the recent history of making the conference finals as the No. 4 team is actually pretty good. It's getting beyond that semifinal round that is quite rare.

Here are some notes to consider...

* The 4th seed in either the East or West has made the conference finals 10 times in NBA history. The last time was in 2013, the Memphis Grizzlies. That was the fourth straight year a four-seed has reached the conference finals, including 2011 when the Scott Brooks-led Oklahoma City Thunder got there. Six times since 2006 has a four-seed reached the conference finals: 2006 Mavs, 2007 Jazz, 2010 Celtics, 2011 Thunder, 2012 Celtics, 2013 Grizzlies. Six times in 11 years? Those odds aren't bad.

*Only four times has a 4th seed reached the NBA Finals. The last time was the 2010 Celtics, who lost to the Lakers. The 2006 Mavericks got there and lost to the Heat, and the 1978 Sonics reached the finals, only to lose to the Bullets for Washington's lone NBA championship. The 1969 Celtics also made the finals as a four-seed.

*Those 1969 Celtics were the only four-seed ever to win the NBA championship. That team, however, was not your average four-seed. They won the NBA title the year before in 1968 and each year from 1959 to 1966. They also won in 1957. It was the greatest dynasty in the history of the game, based on titles.

*Ten times has a team ranked lower than four made the conference finals: 1981 Kings (5) and Rockets (6), 1984 Suns (6), 1987 Sonics (7), 1989 Bulls (6), 1990 Suns (5), 1994 Jazz (5) and Pacers (5), 1995 Rockets (6), 1999 Knicks (8).

*Three times has a team lower than the four seed reached the NBA Finals: 1981 Rockets (6), 1995 Rockets (6), 1999 Knicks (8). Two of those teams have connections to the current Wizards. Brooks was a bench player on the 1995 Rockets and GM Ernie Grunfeld was fired midseason from the same role with the 1999 Knicks.

*Only once has a team lower than the four-seed won the championship: the 1995 Rockets. Perhaps Brooks can use that note in a playoff pep talk.

*The only NBA title in Wizards/Bullets franchise history came following the 1977-78 season when Washington was a three-seed, just one off of the No. 4 status they have this year.

[RELATED: Tougher matchup for Wizards: Cavs or Celtics?]

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

GAME 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Time to get even

After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.

With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.

Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006. 

How will Raptors respond?

Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.

Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.

It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.

Playoff Beal

The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.

The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.

The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.

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For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series

The team lost a close one in Game 1 and was run out of the building in Game 2. Game 3 was must-win, and the Wizards knew what needed to happen in order for them to secure the victory.

"Everybody eats." 

That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making plays and feeding his teammates.

On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.

Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and  Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.

But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.

Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3. 

But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.

So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS