Over the course of history, the NBA has gone through some major changes, not just on the way the game is played right now, with a run and gun kind of offense, but also over the rules that regulate the game we love so much.
From the width of the lane to the material backboards are made off, this game has come a long way ever since the ABA-NBA merger, and it’s likely to keep on changing for many years to come in order to keep up with the way the game’s played right now.
One of the last major changes we’ve been through was pretty much thanks to quite a heated playoff series back then in 2006, and we’re about to let you know about the legendary playoff series that changed it all.
The Western Conference has always been known for its inner hard-nosed competition between all parties, and the 2005-06 campaign wasn’t the exception to that rule, the playoffs being pretty much a battle to the death on any given night.
Back then, playoff seeding was quite different as we see it right now, with teams with a better record having a lower seed as we can see below:
But, why on earth would a team with a worse record be ahead of a 60 win franchise? Well, because back then, the 3 teams with the best records on their respective divisions were entitled of the top 3 seeds in the playoffs.
Naturally, playoff matchups and series were kind of lopsided as you would expect, with the 6th seeded Los Angeles Clippers easily cleaning the floor with the 3rd seeded Nuggets in 5 games, while the Grizzlies were completely torched by the Championship contenders Dallas Mavericks, a 60 win team locked as the 4th seed.
Due to that unorthodox seeding, the Mavs and Spurs were set to face off in the 2nd round of the playoffs, arguably one of the best playoff series we’ve ever seen, and that pretty much forced the league’s hand to change their seeding rules.
Just to give you a bit of context, we’re talking about prime Nowitzki (who had never beaten the Spurs in the playoffs before) vs prime Duncan here, with the Spurs just winning the Championships the previous year.
During game 1, the best defense in the league would prevail with an 87-85 San Antonio triumph following Stackhouse’s missed game-winner, while game 2 was a walk in the park by the Mavs, with Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard combining for over 60 points.
Games 3 and 4, on the other hand, went down to the last possession of the game, with the Dallas Mavericks prevailing with a 1 point victory and 5 point triumph and route to a 3-1 series lead.
Game 5 would be yet another thriller, with Bruce Bowen blocking Dirk Nowitzki’s game-winning shot at the buzzer to force a jump ball and give the Spurs a breather, while Jason Terry would face a 1 game suspension for throwing a punch at Michael Finley.
With Jason Terry on the shelf for game 6, the Spurs’ top-notch defense would impose their strength once again, tying the series to 3 games with a 91-86 triumph despite Dirk Nowitzki’s stellar play.
Game 7 also went down to the wire, with the Mavs earning a 119-111 victory in overtime despite Tim Duncan’s dominating performance, in what would become one of the best series in the history of the game.
This thriller series made the league change their seeding rules to make division winners only be granted a top 4 seed, as having a couple of 60+ win teams facing off in the 2nd round of the playoffs was absolute nonsense.
A couple of years ago, the NBA would change the rule once again as the Blazers got the 4th seed despite having a worse record than the Mavs and Spurs, so now teams are not guaranteed to have a playoff spot despite being division Champions, with the team with the best record having a higher seed.