One team engineered a shocking victory over the league's top regular-season squad and its MVP; the other pulled off a hard-fought series win over the defending champions.
Now, the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics fight for the right to become the Eastern Conference champions for a berth in the 2020 NBA Finals.
"By the time you get to the conference finals, you can't hide," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said in a recent article posted on Sports Illustrated.
"You have to have the right kind of habits and hopefully have been tested enough in those habits . . . to be able to still get to your identity."
US-based Filipino Spoelstra was referring to whether both teams looked forward to seeing any new game plan for their series, which begin Tuesday (US time).
Boston was 2-1 in their 3 regular-season meetings.
"At the end of the day, we're a totally different team, certainly than the first time we played them in December," Spoelstra said.
"And they're a much different team. That's what you expect out of high-quality, high-level teams."
Spoelstra, Jimmy Butler and co., seeded No. 5, advanced to this stage, thanks to a 4-1 drubbing of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the league top seed Milwaukee Bucks.
No. 3 Boston, meanwhile, scratched and clawed its way past Toronto in a gruelling 7-game duel.
For the first time in the Eastern Conference, the top 2 teams after the regular season didn't reach this stage.
Butler, playing in his first conference finals, said nobody should read too much into their seedings.
"I don't think that we're the underdog," he said.
"I think that we're a really good team. We play together. Everybody knows their role. We just compete."