PREVIEW: NBA 2013 playoffs

BASKETBALL - On Saturday, 20 April, the 30th NBA postseason in the current format featuring 16 teams will get underway.

> This will be the 30th postseason since the current setup of 16 playoff teams (eight per conference) was introduced in 1983/1984.

> The Los Angeles Lakers have reached the playoffs in 28 of those 30 seasons, only missing out in 1994 and 2005.

> The Lakers have made the postseason for the eighth successive season. Only two teams currently have a longer running streak: the San Antonio Spurs (16) and Denver Nuggets (10).

> The seventh seeded Los Angeles Lakers face the second seeded San Antonio Spurs. The last seven seed to knock off a two seed were the Spurs themselves, when they eliminated the Dallas Mavericks in 2010.

> In the previous 29 postseasons featuring 16 teams, the championship has been won by a top seed on 18 occasions, 13 times by the team that had posted the best regular season record and five times by the top seed from the other conference. In 2013, the Miami Heat are the team with the best regular season record and the Oklahoma City Thunder are the top seed from the other conference.

> Apart from 18 titles for top seeds, there have been six triumphant two seeds (including last year’s Miami Heat) and four victorious three seeds. Only one lower seed has won a NBA championship in that span: the 1994/1995 Houston Rockets, a team that was seeded sixth.

> Each of the last two seasons have produced an upset by an eight seed over a top seed in the first round. In 2011, the Memphis Grizzlies eliminated the favoured San Antonio Spurs and last year the Philadelphia 76ers knocked off the top seeded Chicago Bulls.

> In total, there have been five such upsets and in the 16-team NBA playoff format the top seeds lead the eight seeds by 53-5 in their series.

> The two seeds also dominate the seven seeds by 53-5. The three seeds lead the six seeds by 43-15. The series between the four and five seeds is evenly split at 29 apiece.

> Four teams have made the 2013 NBA playoffs after not doing so last year: Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets (who competed as the New Jersey Nets in 2012).

> The teams that featured in last year’s postseason and missing out on playoff contention in 2013: Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks saw a streak of 12 consecutive postseason appearances come to an end.

> Five of the 16 franchises that have reached the 2013 NBA playoffs have never won a NBA Championship: Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets.

> Of the five franchises mentioned above, three have never reached the NBA Finals: the Grizzlies, Nuggets and Clippers.

> The Denver Nuggets have been eliminated in the first round in eight of the previous nine NBA postseasons.