Wizards

Wizards

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.

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