NBA Playoffs 2012: 5 Biggest Surprises of Postseason so Far
Sixteen teams were invited to the NBA's second season last month, and now, only four remain.
So far, we've seen a No. 8 seed (Philadelphia) take out a No. 1 seed (Chicago), we've witnessed a number of devastating injuries (Derrick Rose, Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert), and we've watched the Boston Celtics make one more improbable postseason run before the "Big 3" era comes to a close.
With only three more series before a champion is crowned, let's take a look back at the five biggest surprises of the playoffs so far.
5. Chicago Bulls
When Derrick Rose tore his ACL during Game 1 of the Chicago Bulls' first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers, it caused a paradigm shift in the entire Eastern Conference playoff bracket.
Obviously, the team whose fortunes were affected the most are the Bulls, who were poised to make a deep playoff run this year. But after the injury, the Chicago team that went 18-9 in the regular season without Rose in the lineup was a mere shadow of its former self.
An injury later in the series to Joakim Noah didn't help matters either, and the franchise that had its sights on the NBA Finals found itself sitting at home once the second round of the postseason was underway.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
It wasn't all that long ago that the Memphis Grizzlies were the sexy pick to make it to the Western Conference Finals. However, four games into their postseason run, the Grizzlies were staring at a 3-1 deficit in their first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Memphis won Games 5 and 6, and with the deciding contest at the FedExForum, the Grizzles...promptly got run off of their home floor by the Clippers' bench.
L.A.'s reserves—led by Nick Young and Reggie Evans—outscored Memphis' second-unit 41-11, and the Grizzlies wound up on the wrong end of an 82-72 score.
For what it's worth, the Clippers won as many second-round games as Memphis did, so there's that.
3. Glen Davis
With Dwight Howard out of the lineup, Glen Davis was pressed into extended duty for the Orlando Magic in their first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.
The 6'9", 290-pound forward gave the Pacers, and specifically, Roy Hibbert, fits by averaging 19.0 PPG and 9.2 RPG over the five-game span. In the series, Davis might have been the best player on either team during Stan Van Gundy's last stand as the head coach of the Magic.
While many questioned Orlando's initial acquisition of Davis, his late-season charge proved that if given quality playing time, he can be one of the more productive big men in the NBA.
2. Dallas Mavericks
It's not surprising that the Dallas Mavericks fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs.
What is a shock, however, is that the defending champions failed to win a single game.
The disappointing postseason can partly be attributed to age and offseason player movement, but Dallas was simply outclassed by a team that it dealt with convincingly just one year ago.
It should be noted that with the exception of Game 3, every contest was decided by a margin of six points or less.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers are an example of a good team that took advantage of a very fortunate series of events.
Under normal circumstances, Philadelphia would have struggled to win a seven-game series against the Chicago Bulls. But injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah weakened the Bulls, and once opportunity knocked on the door, the Sixers bust right through it.
After beating the Bulls in six games, Philadelphia took the Boston Celtics to the wire—narrowly missing out on the team's first berth in the Eastern Conference finals in 11 years.
Whether their success is a harbinger of things to come is still to be determined. What isn't in question is the fact that they are the biggest surprise so far of this year's NBA playoffs.