NBA Playoffs

Would the Mavs be the lowest-seeded champion in NBA history?

The fifth-seeded Mavs are just four wins away from being crowned as champions.

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The Dallas Mavericks entered the 2024 NBA playoffs as the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.

Now, Luka Doncic and Co. are just four wins away from a championship.

Dallas reached just its third Finals in franchise history thanks to an impressive run through the West playoff bracket. The Mavs first eliminated the No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers before bouncing the No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder, with both series going six games.

In the West Finals, Dallas took the first three games from the No. 3 Minnesota Timberwolves en route to a five-game series victory.

While the Mavs have already secured three series upsets this postseason, they're now faced with their toughest challenge yet -- an NBA Finals showdown with the No. 1 overall-seeded Boston Celtics.

But if Dallas is able to knock off Boston, would the Mavs be the lowest-seeded champion in NBA history? Here's what to know:

What’s the lowest-seeded team to ever reach the NBA Finals?

The Mavs aren't the lowest-seeded team to ever reach the Finals, as a pair of No. 8 seeds share that title.

In the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, the New York Knicks went 27-23 to grab the East’s eighth and final playoff spot. In a win-or-go-home Game 5 against the No. 1 Miami Heat in Round 1, Allan Houston hit a go-ahead shot with under one second remaining to push the Knicks into the conference semifinals.

Patrick Ewing and Co. met the No. 4 Atlanta Hawks in the second round and rolled to a four-game sweep. Then, in a conference finals where five of the six games were decided by single digits, the Knicks defeated the Reggie Miller-led Indiana Pacers to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals.

New York ran into the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals and fell in five games, as Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan combined for their first of five championships over a 15-year stretch.

The Heat last season became the second No. 8 seed to make an NBA Finals run. Miami's postseason actually started in the play-in tournament following a 44-38 regular season. The Heat fell at home to the Hawks in the 7-8 game before rallying past the Chicago Bulls to claim the No. 8 seed.

After nearly missing the playoffs, Jimmy Butler and Co. proceeded to take down the No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks in five games and the No. 5 Knicks in six games.

Then, in a rematch of the previous year's East Finals, Miami jumped out to a 3-0 series lead over the No. 2 Celtics. The Heat dropped the next three games but avoided an epic collapse by winning Game 7 in Boston.

Miami's historic run came to an end in the Finals, where Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets rolled to a five-game series victory.

The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks will face each other in the NBA Finals beginning Thursday, June 6.

What’s the lowest-seeded team to win the NBA Finals?

Even if the Mavs beat the C's, the 1994-95 Houston Rockets will continue to stand as the lowest-seeded champion in NBA history.

As the reigning NBA champions, Houston entered the 1995 postseason as a No. 6 seed following a 47-35 regular season. The Rockets went the distance with their opponent in each of the first two series, first beating the No. 3 Utah Jazz in five games and then the No. 2 Phoenix Suns in seven games. 

Hakeem Olajuwon and Co. actually came back from a 3-1 deficit against Charles Barkley and the Suns. The second-round triumph was capped by a one-point road win in Game 7, where Mario Elie drilled a tie-breaking 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds that became known as the “Kiss of Death.”

After splitting the first two games in the West Finals versus San Antonio, Houston took Games 5 and 6 to make it back to a second consecutive NBA Finals. The Rockets beat the Knicks in seven games the prior year, and this time they were matched up with Shaquille O’Neal’s Orlando Magic.

Hakeem got the better of Shaq in the series, powering the Rockets to a sweep and a historic repeat.

This year's Mavs, however, could become the first No. 5 seed to win it all. The 2019-20 Heat are the only other No. 5 seed to ever make the Finals. That Miami team lost to the No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers in the bubble.

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