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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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Troy Brown Jr. on Bradley Beal's extension, making a name for the Wizards

Troy Brown Jr. on Bradley Beal's extension, making a name for the Wizards

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hoped Bradley Beal's decision to sign a contract extension last week would send a message to the younger players on the team. According to second-year veteran Troy Brown Jr., it already has. 

Brown, 20, said he was part of a group of players that cheered Beal when he arrived at the team's practice facility over the weekend, the day after news broke. 

"I was happy," Brown said. "We just appreciate him."

Brown's biggest takeaways from Beal's new contract, which will keep him in Washington through at least the 2021-22 season, involved the commitment he has made. Even as a two-time All-Star in his prime, he is willing to see through what the Wizards are trying to build.

That helped bolster Brown's opinion of the Wizards as an organization.

"It's good to see guys like Brad stay home," Brown said. "Like he talked about, he got drafted here. It makes younger guys like me, Thomas [Bryant] and Rui [Hachimura] feel good about the city, just to see the leader of our team taking that extension when he does have other options."

Like Beal, Brown is a first round pick. The Wizards selected him 15th overall in the 2018 draft, six years after they took Beal with the third pick in 2012. Beal has been around long enough to know exactly what it takes to be a star player in the NBA.

Brown has paid close attention and believes Beal can help him and the other young players on the team find success in the league.

"He leads by example every day. He comes in, works hard and is very vocal. Even if he's not talking a lot in practice, he's going hard," Brown said. 

"It's just one of those things where every time you know what you're going to get out of him. You don't really have to worry about Brad's effort or being a leader because he's going to do that every day."

What Beal has done is essentially say he's ready to be patient and help guide the Wizards through a transition period. While other NBA stars probably would have forced their way out of the situation he's in, Beal is laying down roots with confidence the team's new front office structure and philosophy will pay dividends down the road.

Beal has spoken about how he wants to build something new in Washington where the NBA franchise hasn't won 50 games or been to the conference finals since the 1970s. Brown has fallen in line, hoping to be part of a basketball renaissance in The District.

"We're all young guys in the league, but at the same time we understand the stuff that's going on with D.C. [with the Nationals, Capitals and Mystics]. It's not irrelevant to us. We want to make a name for the Wizards. I feel like with us, we take it more personal than other people do. We just want to turn this thing around," he said.


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Wizards announce 2019-20 opening night starting lineup featuring Rui Hachimura

Wizards announce 2019-20 opening night starting lineup featuring Rui Hachimura

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards have their starting five penciled in for opening night in Dallas as they get set for their first game of the 2019-20 season on Wednesday against the Mavericks.

The two big headliners are Rui Hachimura at the four and Isaac Bonga at the three. The Wizards picked Hachimura ninth overall in the 2019 NBA Draft and he has secured a starting NBA job out of his first training camp.

Bonga is in there mostly due to injuries, as both Troy Brown Jr. and C.J. Miles continue to work their way back. The Wizards plan to have Brown start most games this season at small forward, but he is still days away from returning from a left calf strain.

Here is the Wizards' starting lineup, as announced by head coach Scott Brooks:

PG - Ish Smith

SG - Bradley Beal

SF - Isaac Bonga

PF - Rui Hachimura

C - Thomas Bryant

Also expected to be part of the rotation against the Mavericks are guards Chris Chiozza, Jordan McRae and Justin Robinson, plus big men Davis Bertans and Moe Wagner. Rookies Admiral Schofield and Garrison Mathews may also see some time. 

The Wizards will open their season at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on NBC Sports Washington. Live coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Wizards Outsiders.