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2003–04 NBA season

2003–04 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
Duration October 28, 2003 – April 14, 2004
April 17 – June 1, 2004 (Playoffs)
June 6 – 15, 2004 (Finals)
Number of teams 29
TV partner(s) ABC, TNT, ESPN, NBA TV
Top draft pick Lebron James
Picked by Cleveland Cavaliers
Regular season
Top seed Indiana Pacers
Season MVP Kevin Garnett (Minnesota)
Top scorer Tracy McGrady (Orlando)
Eastern champions Detroit Pistons
  Eastern runners-up Indiana Pacers
Western champions Los Angeles Lakers
  Western runners-up Minnesota Timberwolves
Champions Detroit Pistons
  Runners-up Los Angeles Lakers
Finals MVP Chauncey Billups (Detroit)
The San Antonio Spurs hosting the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals at the SBC Center.

The 2003–04 NBA season was the 58th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Detroit Pistons defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 in the 2004 NBA Finals.


  • Events 1
  • Coaching 2
  • Final standings 3
    • By record 3.1
    • By conference 3.2
  • Playoffs 4
  • Statistics leaders 5
  • Awards 6
    • Yearly awards 6.1
    • Players of the month 6.2
    • Rookies of the month 6.3
    • Coaches of the month 6.4
  • References 7


This was the final season for the original two-division format in both the Eastern and Western Conferences, before each of the conferences added a third division the following season. As a result, this would also be the final season for the NBA Midwest Division, as the Minnesota Timberwolves were that division's last champion.

The All-Star Game was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The West won 136-132; Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal is named Most Valuable Player.

For the first time in 21 years the Portland Trail Blazers did not make the playoffs, ending the second longest streak in NBA history. For the first time in 20 years the Utah Jazz did not make the playoffs, ending the third longest streak in NBA history.

Prior to the start of the season, Karl Malone and Gary Payton took major paycuts to leave their teams and join Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal on the Lakers for a chance at a possible NBA title. However, that title chase came to an end in the NBA Finals, as the Detroit Pistons won 4-1. Behind their "Big Three" of Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell, and Sam Cassell, the Minnesota Timberwolves amassed the best record in the Western Conference, and were expected to finally win a first round playoff series. They won two and advanced to the Western Conference Finals, which they lost to the Lakers. It would be their last playoff appearance, beginning a playoff drought that as of 2015 has lasted for eleven years.

LeBron James (1st overall to Cleveland), Carmelo Anthony (3rd overall to Denver), Chris Bosh (4th overall to Toronto), and Dwyane Wade (5th overall to Miami), among others, formed one of the strongest drafts in NBA history. Among the highly touted rookies, Anthony and Wade led their teams to the playoffs, and Wade's play pushed the Heat into the second round. James went on to win NBA Rookie of the Year. Anthony became the first NBA rookie to lead a playoff team in scoring since David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs during the 1989–90 season.


Coaching changes
Team 2002-03 coach 2003-04 coach
Cleveland Cavaliers Keith Smart Paul Silas
Detroit Pistons Rick Carlisle Larry Brown
Houston Rockets Rudy Tomjanovich Jeff Van Gundy
Indiana Pacers Isiah Thomas Rick Carlisle
Los Angeles Clippers Dennis Johnson Mike Dunleavy, Sr.
Miami Heat Pat Riley Stan Van Gundy
Milwaukee Bucks George Karl Terry Porter
New Orleans Hornets Paul Silas Tim Floyd
Philadelphia 76ers Larry Brown Randy Ayers
Toronto Raptors Lenny Wilkens Kevin O'Neill
Washington Wizards Doug Collins Eddie Jordan
Team Outgoing coach Incoming coach
Boston Celtics Jim O'Brien John Carroll
Chicago Bulls Bill Cartwright Pete Myers
Pete Myers Scott Skiles
New Jersey Nets Byron Scott Lawrence Frank
New York Knicks Don Chaney Herb Williams
Herb Williams Lenny Wilkens
Orlando Magic Doc Rivers Johnny Davis
Philadelphia 76ers Randy Ayers Chris Ford
Phoenix Suns Frank Johnson Mike D'Antoni

Final standings

By record

By conference


  • z – Clinched home court advantage for the entire playoffs
  • c – Clinched home court advantage for the conference playoffs
  • y – Clinched division title
  • x – Clinched playoff spot


Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams enjoying the home advantage are shown in italics.

First Round Conference Semifinals Conference Finals NBA Finals
1 Indiana 4
8 Boston 0
1 Indiana 4
4 Miami 2
4 Miami 4
5 New Orleans 3
1 Indiana 2
Eastern Conference
3 Detroit 4
3 Detroit 4
6 Milwaukee 1
3 Detroit 4
2 New Jersey 3
2 New Jersey 4
7 New York 0
E3 Detroit 4
W2 L.A. Lakers 1
1 Minnesota 4
8 Denver 1
1 Minnesota 4
4 Sacramento 3
4 Sacramento 4
5 Dallas 1
1 Minnesota 2
Western Conference
2 L.A. Lakers 4
3 San Antonio 4
6 Memphis 0
3 San Antonio 2
2 L.A. Lakers 4
2 L.A. Lakers 4
7 Houston 1

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
Points per game Tracy McGrady Orlando Magic 28.0
Rebounds per game Kevin Garnett Minnesota Timberwolves 13.9
Assists per game Jason Kidd New Jersey Nets 9.2
Steals per game Baron Davis New Orleans Hornets 2.36
Blocks per game Theo Ratliff Portland Trail Blazers 3.61
FG% Shaquille O'Neal Los Angeles Lakers .584
FT% Peja Stojaković Sacramento Kings .927
3FG% Anthony Peeler Sacramento Kings .482


Yearly awards

Players of the month

The following players were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month.
Month Eastern Conference Western Conference
1October – November Davis, BaronBaron Davis (New Orleans Hornets) (1/1) Stojaković, PejaPeja Stojaković (Sacramento Kings) (1/1)
2December O'Neal, JermaineJermaine O'Neal (Indiana Pacers) (1/1) Garnett, KevinKevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (1/4)
3January Redd, MichaelMichael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks) (1/1) Garnett, KevinKevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (2/4)
4February Martin, KenyonKenyon Martin (New Jersey Nets) (1/1) Garnett, KevinKevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (3/4)
5March Odom, LamarLamar Odom (Miami Heat) (1/1) Bryant, KobeKobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)
6April Magloire, JamaalJamaal Magloire (New Orleans Hornets) (1/1) Garnett, KevinKevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (4/4)

Rookies of the month

The following players were named the Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month.
Month Eastern Conference Western Conference
1October – November James, LeBronLeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (1/6) Anthony, CarmeloCarmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (1/6)
2December James, LeBronLeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (2/6) Anthony, CarmeloCarmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (2/6)
3January James, LeBronLeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (3/6) Anthony, CarmeloCarmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (3/6)
4February James, LeBronLeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (4/6) Anthony, CarmeloCarmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (4/6)
5March James, LeBronLeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (5/6) Anthony, CarmeloCarmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (5/6)
6April James, LeBronLeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (6/6) Anthony, CarmeloCarmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (6/6)

Coaches of the month

The following coaches were named the Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month.
Month Eastern Conference Western Conference
1October – November Carlisle, RickRick Carlisle (Indiana Pacers) (1/1) Jackson, PhilPhil Jackson (Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)
2December Scott, ByronByron Scott (New Jersey Nets) (1/1) Popovich, GreggGregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) (1/1)
3January Brown, LarryLarry Brown (Detroit Pistons) (1/2) Adelman, RickRick Adelman (Sacramento Kings) (1/1)
4February Frank, LawrenceLawrence Frank (New Jersey Nets) (1/1) Brown, HubieHubie Brown (Memphis Grizzlies) (1/2)
5March Van Gundy, StanStan Van Gundy (Miami Heat) (1/1) Brown, HubieHubie Brown (Memphis Grizzlies) (2/2)
5April Brown, LarryLarry Brown (Detroit Pistons) (2/2) Saunders, FlipFlip Saunders (Minnesota Timberwolves) (1/1)


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