2006 NBA Playoffs

2006 NBA playoffs
DatesApril 22–June 20, 2006
Season2005–06
Teams16
ChampionsMiami Heat (1st title)
Runners-upDallas Mavericks (1st finals appearance)
Semifinalists

The 2006 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 2005–06 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat defeating the Western Conference champion Dallas Mavericks 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals. Dwyane Wade was named NBA Finals MVP.

The Clippers were the biggest surprise, as they not only made the playoffs for the first time since 1997, but advanced to the second round for the first time since 1976, when they were the Buffalo Braves. They came within 1 game of making the conference finals for the first time, but lost Game 7 to the Suns.

2006 was the playoff debut of LeBron James, who helped the Cavaliers eke out 1-point OT victories over the Washington Wizards in Games 5 and 6 of their first-round series to advance. It was their first playoff appearance since 1998, and they earned their first playoff series win since 1993. Against the two-time defending Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons, the Cavs were routed in Game 1 and lost Game 2 by 6 before winning the next 3 and being 1 game away from beating the Pistons. Detroit recovered and won the last 2 to take the series in 7.

Format

With the addition of the 30th NBA franchise, the Charlotte Bobcats, in 2005, the NBA realigned its divisions. Each conference had three divisions of five teams each, and at this point in time, the winner of each division was guaranteed a top 3 playoff seed, regardless of whether the team had one of the top 8 records in its conference. However, the division champion was not guaranteed home court advantage; a division-leading team could be ranked third or even second but face a lower seed (that did not win its division) with a better record, which would then have the home court advantage. This was illustrated in the first round this year when the 44-win Denver Nuggets won the Northwest Division and had the third seed, yet did not have home court advantage against the sixth-seeded 47-win Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers had played the Memphis Grizzlies a week before the playoffs for the fifth and sixth seed. However, the loser of the game would have faced Denver, while the winner would face fourth seeded Dallas, who had the second best record in the league that year. It was speculated that the Clippers lost on purpose to play Denver in the first round. However, starting in the 2007 playoffs, being a division-leading team did not guarantee a top 3 playoff seed.