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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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Survey of NBA general managers reportedly shows divide in how teams want to proceed with season

Survey of NBA general managers reportedly shows divide in how teams want to proceed with season

A conference call between NBA general managers and commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday revealed a divide as to how the GMs think the league should proceed if able to finish the 2019-20 season, according to a report by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor.

GMs were given a survey, the results of which were revealed on the call, and according to the report, they were split on several things:

  • Half the general managers voted to skip the rest of the regular season and go straight to the playoffs

  • More than half voted to reseed the playoffs 1 to 16, regardless of conference

  • About 75 percent voted in favor of a play-in tournament for bubble teams to determine the final playoff seeds; the other 25 percent voted in favor of a World Cup-style group stage

The play-in tournament was reported as a potential option by ESPN on Wednesday. Labeled as a “playoffs plus” format, it would allow teams just outside of the playoff picture like the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings -- all separated by just 1.5 games -- a way to play themselves into the playoffs if the regular season is in fact canceled. 

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The Wizards, currently the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference and 5.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot, weren’t mentioned in the report, but it did say 20-24 teams would be included. This would likely include Washington.

According to O’Connor, teams with top seeds like the East-leading Bucks and West-leading Lakers favor the play-in option over a group stage, likely because they get an easier matchup against lower-seeded teams and a less difficult path to a title. And because teams will always vote in their own best interest, the survey isn’t an indication of what will ultimately happen.

“There was zero commitment to any one plan,” one of the GMs told O’Connor. “But it was a call to gather more information.”

On Friday, Silver will talk with the league’s board of governors to discuss formats to resume the season, a potential timeline for return, and more. But nothing is expected to be determined on that call either.

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Scott Brooks: Bradley Beal is one of the NBA's best overall players

Scott Brooks: Bradley Beal is one of the NBA's best overall players

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks always has nice things to say about Bradley Beal, his star shooting guard. But on Thursday night's 'Wizards Greatest Hits' broadcast on NBC Sports Washington, he took it up a notch with his praise.

While speaking with host Chris Miller as they watched back the Wizards' Jan. 2019 win over the Knicks in London, Brooks shared some very high compliments of Beal.

"He is really one of the best players in the league," Brooks said. "All-around, not only at guard, he is one of the best players in the league. His game has improved so much over the past three years. He's getting better every year."

As they watched the fourth quarter of that Wizards-Knicks game, Brooks went on about how Beal can flip a switch during crunch time and how sometimes all it takes is a quick conversation between them.

"There are times where I need him to take over a game. I just say 'Brad, it's time,'" Brooks said.

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The best line from Brooks may have been when Beal not making the 2019-20 All-Star team came up. Brooks' coaching peers vote on the reserves and they famously left Beal out, which made for some history combined with his scoring average at the time.

Brooks wants to know from other NBA coaches: "If you don't think he's an All-Star, then why are you double-teaming every single time we play?"

If you get an answer to that question, Scott, be sure to let us know.

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