In every postseason, there will be some teams that are regulars. In the NBA, this group includes the Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and others.
Then you have the teams that don't regularly make it to the big dance. These teams are your sleepers, and not to be written off automatically.
A sleeper team can be designated as such for a few reasons. It could be incredibly young and without much star power, have just barely made the postseason or a good team that is a low seed just because its star player is injured. Despite these circumstances, it plays hard and gives the top teams a run for its money, sometimes even defeating it and advancing to the next round.
One sleeper team that really stands out in basketball history is the 1999 New York Knicks, who made that year's NBA Finals as a No. 8 seed. A more recent example would be the 2011 Memphis Grizzlies, who were ranked No. 8 and defeated the No. 1 Spurs in the first round without injured star forward Rudy Gay.
There are plenty of teams who would earn such a label if the playoffs started today, and they would certainly make the elite teams earn a trip to the next round.
All statistics in this article are accurate as of Monday, December 10, 2012