The 2004 Detroit Pistons come up a lot in my NBA analysis because they were such a unique team, a title winner who didn't feature an upper-tier Hall of Famer on the roster. In doing so, Joe Dumars gave fleeting hope for organizations trying to win with depth and balance. Teams can win at the league's highest level with that formula, even if it doesn't happen very often. However, those Pistons remain historically important for another reason that you never hear about: When they beat the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant Lakers in the Finals that year, they broke a half-decade stranglehold the Western Conference had on the league title.
At the time, the imbalance between the conferences was so extreme that there was a building debate whether teams should no longer be split along those lines when it came to postseason seeding. Just seed teams 1 to 16 based on regular-season record, and watch the league's two best teams battle it out in the Finals.
The funny thing is that from top to bottom, the West has continued to batter the East on an annual basis, and so far this season the gap between the conferences has widened into a chasm. Simply put, the Eastern Conference has been getting drilled in interconference play. So far the West was taken 37 of 54 matchups through Thursday's games.