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NBA Playoffs: Lowest Seeds that Advanced to the Conference Finals

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Game_Onair_MattRyan_640x480_120413 Matt Ryan
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The Memphis Grizzlies are halfway to an NBA title and are playing in the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. They finished their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a victory in Game 5. Lionel Hollins fifth-seeded Grizzlies will now look to achieve something only a few teams in their position have before.

Since the NBA Playoffs expanded to 16 teams during the 1983-84 season, 14 teams seeded fourth or lower have advanced to the conference finals. Among those teams, four advanced to the NBA Finals and only one raised the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Here’s a complete a list of how all those teams finished their season.

1983-84 Phoenix Suns

Seed: 6

Record: 41-41

End Result: Eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2 in the Western Conference Finals.

Head Coach: John MacLeod

Starting Five

C: James Edwards

PF: Maurice Lucas

SF: Larry Nance

SG: Walter Davis

PG: Kyle Macy

1986-87 Seattle SuperSonics

Seed: 7

Record: 39-43

End Result: Swept by the Los Angeles in the Western Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Bernie Bickerstaff

Starting Five

C: Alton Lister

PF: Tom Chambers

SF: Xavier McDaniel

SG: Dale Ellis

PG: Nate McMillan

1988-89 Chicago Bulls

Seed: 6

Record: 47-35

End Result: Defeated by the Detroit Pistons 4-2 in the Eastern Conference.

Head Coach: Doug Collins

Starting Five

C: Bill Cartwright

PF: Horace Grant

SF: Scottie Pippen

SG: Michael Jordan

PG: Sam Vincent

1989-90 Phoenix Suns

Seed: 5

Record: 54-28

End Result: Eliminated by the Portland Trail Blazers 4-2 in the Western Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Cotton Fitzsimmons

Starting Five

C: Mark West

PF: Tom Chambers

SF: Kurt Rambis

SG: Jeff Hornacek

PG: Kevin Johnson

1993-94 Indiana Pacers

Seed: 5

Record: 47-35

End Result: 94-90 loss in Game 7 to the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Larry Brown

Starting Five

C: Rik Smits

PF: Dale Davis

SF: Derrick McKey

SG: Reggie Miller

PG: Haywoode Workman

1993-94 Utah Jazz

Seed: 5

Record: 53-29

End Result: Beaten in five games by the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Jerry Sloan

Starting Five

C: Felton Spencer

PF: Karl Malone

SF: Byron Russel

SG: Jeff Malone

PG: John Stockton

1994-95 Houston Rockets

Seed: 6

Record: 47-35

End Result: Swept the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals.

Head Coach: Rudy Tomjanovich

Starting Five

C: Hakeem Olajuwon

PF: Robert Horry

SF: Clyde Drexler

SG: Mario Elie

PG: Kenny Smith

1998-99 New York Knicks

Seed: 8

Record: 27-23* (strike-shortened season)

End Result: Eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs 4-1 in the NBA Finals.

Head Coach: Jeff Van Gundy

Starting Five

C: Patrick Ewing

PF: Larry Johnson

SF: Latrell Sprewell

SG: Allan Houston

PG: Charlie Ward

2005-06 Dallas Mavericks

Seed: 4

Record: 60-22

End Result: Lost four straight games to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, after leading 2-0.

Head Coach: Avery Johnson

Starting Five

C: Erick Dampier

PF: Dirk Nowitzki

SF: Josh Howard

SG: Jerry Stackhouse

PG: Jason Terry

2006-07 Utah Jazz

Seed: 4

Record: 51-31

End Result: Beaten by the San Antonio Spurs 4-1 in the Western Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Jerry Sloan

Starting Five

C: Mehmet Okur

PF: Carlos Boozer

SF: Andrei Kirilenko

SG: Derek Fischer

PG: Deron Williams

2009-10 Boston Celtics

Seed: 4

Record: 50-32

End Result: Game 7 to the Los Angeles Lakes in the NBA Finals.

Head Coach: Doc Rivers

Starting Five

C: Kendrick Perkins

PF: Kevin Garnett

SF: Paul Pierce

SG: Ray Allen

PG: Rajon Rondo

2010-11 Oklahoma City Thunder

Seed: 4

Record: 55-27

End Result: Eliminated in five games by the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Scott Brooks

Starting Five

C: Kendrick Perkins

PF: Serge Ibaka

SF: Kevin Durant

SG: Thabo Sefolosha

PG: Russel Westbrook

2011-12 Boston Celtics

Seed: 4

Record: 39-27 (strike-shortened season)

End Result: Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Doc Rivers

Starting Five

C: Kevin Garnett

PF: Brandon Bass

SF: Paul Pierce

SG: Ray Allen

PG: Rajon Rondo

2012-13 Memphis Grizzlies

Seed: 5

Record: 56-26

End Result: To be determined…

Head Coach: Lionel Hollins

Starting Five

C: Marc Gasol

PF: Zach Randolph

SF: Tayshaun Prince

SG: Tony Allen

PG: Mike Conley

Final Tally

Swept in the conference finals: 1

Five game series in the conference finals: 3

Six game series in the conference finals: 3

Game 7 loss in the conference finals: 2

NBA Finals appearance: 3

NBA champions: 1

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