4 2004 Indiana Pacers
5 2000 Portland Trailblazers
The 2004 Indiana Pacers went 61-21 in the regular season good for the best record in the NBA. They lost in the ECF to the eventual champions Detroit Pistons in a very nice defensive series. They were led by All-Star PF Jermaine O’Neal and All-Star DPOY Ron Artest. Overall a very good defensive team that has many good offensive weapons, will be a tough team to beat.
The 2000 Blazers went 59-23 in the regular season before coming very close to upsetting the eventual champion 00 Lakers in the WCF. This series is still regarded as one of the closest ever in the Shaq/Kobe era. This team was very deep with great veterans all-around. You had Rasheed, Pippen, Sabonis, Damon Staudomire, Steve Smith, none of these players were in their primes, but each were close to their primes. Overall the Blazers are a team that have proven they can beat anyone, so it wouldn’t surprise me no matter how far they go in this tournament even as a 5 seed.
This will be a tough series. The Pacers easily cruised to the 2nd round in 5 games over Toronto, while the Blazers avoided the upset coming from back from 3-2 to win their series in 7 games. Both these teams in real-life lost in the conference finals. They were both built similar, both had All-Star PFs in Rasheed Wallace and Jermaine O’Neal, while both also had stud wings known for their defense in Scottie Pippen and Ron Artest. The stars of Pacers were more in their prime but the Blazers overall had a deeper team. Who wins these battles will be crucial in determining the winner of this series.