4. New Jersey Nets - 2003
The first one seed from the Eastern Conference on this list, the 2003 New Jersey Nets were a defensive marvel. Allowing the second-fewest points per game that season (90.1) and finishing with the top-rated defense, they impressively swept the second and third rounds against Boston and Detroit to set up a date with the Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Unfortunately for New Jersey, Tim Duncan was in the midst of one of the best individual seasons in recorded history and was saving his best for last.
Even with Duncan's all-around dominance, though, the Nets were a formidable opponent that almost forced a Game 7 in the Alamo City. Building a 69-59 lead with 10:28 left in the game, they were in control until the Spurs simply forgot how to miss shots in the fourth quarter.
Jason Kidd averaged 19.7 points, 7.8 assists, and 6.2 rebounds in the Finals while Kenyon Martin averaged a double-double of 14.7 points and 10 rebounds. Beyond those two and a couple of big nights from Richard Jefferson, though, they simply didn't have enough offensive firepower to topple the Spurs. Their 18th-ranked offense was the main reason Kidd retired ringless while the Spurs added another championship to their mantle.