Most Dangerous Underdogs Headed into the 2014 NBA Playoffs

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Most Dangerous Underdogs Headed into the 2014 NBA Playoffs
Charles Rex Arbogast

The NBA playoffs are, for better or worse, probably the most predictable of any postseason in sports. Year in and year out, the list of teams that can legitimately compete for a championship is exceedingly short—no more than three or four teams long—and can be sussed out well before the end of the regular season.

It's vastly different from the NFL, MLB and the NHL, wherein predictions at all times and of all types are routinely rendered silly and short-sighted when everything's said and done.

This would seem more a feature of the sport than a bug within it. Talent trumps all in basketball, and if you have two (or even three) of the top players in the game, you're probably going to contend for the title while everyone else is left scrambling for scraps.

That doesn't mean, though, that the NBA is immune to the Cinderella stories that so often characterize its collegiate counterpart. No. 8-seeded teams can and have upset top dogs in the past; just ask the 1994 Denver Nuggets, the 2007 "We Believe" Golden State Warriors, the 2011 Memphis Grizzlies or the 1999 New York Knicks, who crashed the post-lockout Finals.

The Dallas Mavericks came out of (practically) nowhere to claim the crown in 2011. Last year, Stephen Curry's Warriors snuck past a 57-win Nuggets squad and pushed the San Antonio Spurs far closer to the edge than anyone would've otherwise expected them to.

The point is, anything can happen in the NBA playoffs. Teams can catch fire or cool off at a moment's notice. Injuries can derail the hopes of some (see: Russell Westbrook, 2013) and open doors for others (see: Spurs and Grizzlies, 2013). Even the best of the best can stumble into tricky matchups and the problems they present.

If you're searching for a squad to upset the established order of the Association in 2014, look no further than these five, each of whom has the potential to infuse this year's postseason with some measure of chaos by going toe-to-toe against—and, perhaps, upsetting—the league's top title contenders.

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