Welcome to the Daily NBA Fix for Monday, May 5, the morning after the NBA wrapped up what was likely its best first round ever.
There were 50 games in all played in the first round, with road teams going a remarkable 24-26. Of those 50 games, 19 were decided by four points or less and eight games went to overtime—including a record four in the Memphis-Oklahoma City series.
The 50 games played in the round broke the previous record by one; there were 49 first-round games played in 2002-03, the first year the first round was expanded to best-of-7.
The five Game 7s in the first round ties the NBA playoff record for most Game 7s in any playoff year and is far and away the most for any single round.
And, since five teams advanced after going seven games, it’s probably germane to point out that only one team that was pushed to seven games in the first round went on to win the title since 2003. That would be the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, who had to win a Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks to reach the conference semifinals … where they had to win a Game 7 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. That Celtics team played 26 games—a record for a team in one playoff year.
We have the Brooklyn Nets advancing to take on the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, with the sixth-seeded Nets having gone 4-0 against Miami during the regular season.
There have only been two instances where a defending champion has been swept in at least four games in the regular season and then played that team in the playoffs.
A potential bit of bad karma for the Heat—the only other two times it happened, the team that swept that season series also won the playoff series.
The last time it happened was in 2002-03, when the three-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers were 0-4 against the San Antonio Spurs in the regular season, then lost in six games to the Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals.
The only other time it happened was in 1995-96, when the two-time defending champion Houston Rockets were swept by the Seattle SuperSonics in the Western Conference Semifinals after going 0-4 against the Sonics during the regular season. Bagel-and-8. Ouch.
The Daily NBA Fix will do what it did all season long, deliver highlights, game capsules, the top and bottom five players and, yes, we’ll still be handing out the Goose Egg, Clean and Sober and Ironman awards. We’ll also have informational tidbits and a look at the daily lines for those who want to drop a buck or two on a wager.
Check out the highlights below from the night that was, then get into the game capsules (home teams in CAPS).