25. 2003-04 Detroit Pistons
Season Results: 54-28, Won NBA Finals (4-2)
The 2004 Pistons weren’t expected to hoist the NBA title by this particular season’s end. The Spurs were coming off their second championship, and the Lakers had retooled with Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton after their four-peat efforts were ended the year prior. In the East, Detroit battled through the two-time Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Nets in a tightly-contest seven-game series. In the Eastern Conference Finals, a crucial Tayshaun Prince chase-down block powered the Pistons over Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers.
Waiting for Detroit in the Finals were the juggernaut Lakers, led by four all-time talents and one of the most decorated coaches in league history. In a historic five-game effort, the Pistons crushed the heavily-favored Lakers in dominant fashion. After holding 11 opponents under 70 points during the regular season (including a five-game streak), the Pistons held the Lakers to just 81.8 PPG in the series. It stamped their claim as one of the great defenses of the modern era.
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