The 1999 season comes with a giant asterisk because of the lockout that reduced it to just 50 games. The Knicks nabbed the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with a 27-23 record, one game better than the original Charlotte Hornets, and just four games back of the No. 4 Detroit Pistons. Perhaps in a full season, these Knicks would have climbed the ladder to a top-three spot by playoff time. Led by Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, Larry Johnson and Latrell Sprewell, and coached by Jeff Van Gundy, New York found its groove in the postseason, beating Pat Riley's Miami Heat in the first round, 3-2, sweeping the Atlanta Hawks and beating the Indiana Pacers in the East finals in six games. The San Antonio Spurs entered as the West's No. 1 seed, and Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan left with the first of their five titles. So far.
NBAE/Getty ImagesFernando Medina
No. 6 - 1995 Houston Rockets
The Rockets' road to a repeating as NBA champs will always be remembered for their semifinals comeback from 3-1 to spoil Charles Barkley's best chance at a championship with the Phoenix Suns. The Hakeem Olajuwon-led Rockets entered the postseason with an unimpressive 47-35 record, 15 games behind the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs. At the season's midpoint, Houston hardly looked like title contenders. That all changed when it sent Otis Thorpe to the Portland Trail Blazers for hometown hero Clyde Drexler. In the playoffs, Drexler averaged 20.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists. Olajuown was masterful, averaging 33.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.8 blocks. He scored at least 31 points in all four games in the Finals sweep against a young Shaquille O'Neal and the Orlando Magic.
NBAE/Getty ImagesBarry Gossage
No. 4 - 2010 Boston Celtics
Trying to repeat as champions, the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce-Ray Allen Celtics were all but written off in the second round against the East's No. 1-seed Cleveland Cavaliers and then-ringless superstar LeBron James. But the Celtics, 50-32 during the regular season to finish 11 games behind the Cavs, rallied from 2-1 to win in six games. Heavy criticism was heaped upon James, who would leave Cleveland for Miami in free agency. Boston then dusted off 2009 East champs Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic to get back to the Finals for a second time in three seasons against the West's No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers won a classic series in seven games, but Boston backers still believe they'd have raised another banner had Kendrick Perkins not injured his knee in Game 6.
NBAE/Getty ImagesBrian Babineau
No. 7 - 2015 San Antonio Spurs
On an ugly four-game losing skid since the All-Star break, the Spurs (34-23) are causing some angst at home. And there is certainly reason for worry, starting with laboring point guard Tony Parker. For a team that typically thrives during its long rodeo road trip, the Spurs hardly resemble the free-flowing, precision unit that dissected the Miami Heat in last season's NBA Finals. There's still time to avoid the historically unlucky seventh seed. The Spurs are only 3.5 games -- and one hot streak -- back of the No. 4 seed and first-round homecourt advantage. However, from behind, No. 8 Oklahoma City is closing quickly. And unlike the Thunder, the Spurs don't have in-their-prime superstars to carry them. Finishing seventh or eighth will require starting the playoffs on the road, and that's a tough way to go.
No. 8 - 2015 Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder (32-25) have to be the scariest potential No. 8 seed in history. Injuries to Russell Westbrook (14 games missed) and Kevin Durant (30 games and counting) created this unusual circumstance. OKC has won seven straight and bolstered its bench with shrewd deadline deals that netted four players, including center Enes Kanter and point guard D.J. Augustin. Durant on Monday underwent a procedure on his problematic right foot to alleviate lingering pain. If he returns to full strength, and if All-Star Game MVP Westbrook continues his league-MVP-level play, OKC will indeed become the most dangerous eighth seed in NBA history -- if not the most dangerous seventh seed ever. Who wouldn't want to see a Thunder-Warriors opening series? Yet, it can also be argued that another Thunder-Gizzlies series is simply destiny.