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The Playoffs: Where the Top Seed Means Jack

From my latest on Hoopsworld:

What does this prove? That entering the playoffs with a top seed doesn't guarantee anything. In fact, looking back at Detroit's string of five Conference Finals appearances, the only times they managed to advance to the NBA Finals came during the two seasons they failed to garner the top seed in the East - they were the No. 3 seed when they won it all in 2004 and the No. 2 seed in 2005.

A look at the rest of the league shows that this trend is actually quite common. Since 2001, only one NBA champion began the playoffs as a No. 1 seed: the San Antonio Spurs in 2003. The other six titles were evenly split between No. 2 and No. 3 seeds.

Moral of the story: develop the bench. (Thanks to DBB Reader PDXPistonsFan for planting the seed of the story idea).

Ideas that didn't make their way into the column: It definitely hurt having to play Game 7 of the 2005 Finals in San Antonio, but how many times do you see a team essentially give away homecourt advantage by losing one of the first two games of a series? And, as we saw with the path the No. 2 Cavs took to the Conference Finals (a hobbled Wizards team missing Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler in the first round, the Nets in the second), it's not like the top seed guarantees the easiest path through the playoffs, either.