Other than sucking a few more bucks out of their fansâ€™ wallets, the participation of lower seeds in the NBA Playoffs serves almost no purpose. The league had four teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs until 1975 when the pool expanded, and in 37 years that move has yet to be validated.
An eighth-seeded team has beaten a top-seeded team just four times in NBA history, with zero teams accomplishing the feat between 1984 and 1994. Since 1979 when the NHL adopted an eight-team format, ten bottom seeds have upended top teams and seven seeds.
The 1999 Knicks are the only eighth seed to reach the Finals and they did so in a lockout-shortened season. A seventh seed has never made it. In the NHL, in the past ten seasons alone, the 2003 Ducks, 2006 Oilers, and 2010 Flyers have all reached the Finals as either the eighth or seventh seed. The 2004 Flames were a six seed that beat three division champions en route to a conference championship.
This year, the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings shocked the first-seeded Vancouver Canucks, the team with the best overall record in hockey in the regular season, and the runner-up for last year's Stanley Cup. Now, the Kings are well on their way to knocking off the second-seeded Blues after they stole a 2-0 lead in St. Louis. If your team makes the Stanley Cup Playoffs, literally anything can happen.
NHL: 2 | NBA: 1