NBA playoffs

The NBA playoffs are a best-of-seven elimination tournament annually held after the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s regular season to determine the league's champion.

NBA playoffs
Upcoming season or competition:
Current sports event 2019–20 NBA season
NBA Playoffs logo (2018)
SportBasketball
Founded1946
No. of teams16
Most recent
champion(s)
Toronto Raptors
Most titlesBoston Celtics (17)
TV partner(s)ESPN/ABC
TNT
NBA TV
Official websiteNational Basketball Association

Format

In September 2015, the NBA announced changes to the formula used to determine the format of the 2016 NBA playoffs. The top eight teams in each conference (East and West), ranked in order by win-loss records, qualify for the playoffs. The tie-break criteria for playoff seeding and home-court advantage have also changed; head-to-head results between the tied teams is the first tie-breaker, and whether a team won its division championship is the second tie-breaker.[1]

These seedings are used to create a bracket that determines the match-ups throughout the series. Once the playoffs start, the bracket is fixed; teams are never "reseeded", unlike in the National Football League (NFL) where the strongest remaining teams face the weakest teams in subsequent rounds. The first round of the NBA playoffs, or conference quarterfinals, consists of four match-ups in each conference based on the seedings (1–8, 2–7, 3–6, and 4–5). The four winners advance to the second round, or conference semifinals, with a match-up between the 1–8 and 4–5 winners and a match-up between the 2–7 and 3–6 winners. The two winners advance to the third round, or conference finals. The winner from each conference will advance to the final round, or the NBA Finals.

All rounds are best-of-seven series. Series are played in a 2–2–1–1–1 format, meaning the team with home-court advantage hosts games 1, 2, 5, and 7, while their opponent hosts games 3, 4, and 6, with games 5–7 being played if needed. This format has been used since 2014, after NBA team owners unanimously voted to change from a 2–3–2 format on October 23, 2013.[2]

The most common criticism of the current structure is related to parity of conferences. On numerous occasions, Eastern Conference teams with losing records qualified for the playoffs, while Western Conference teams with winning records ended up missing them, including the 2011, 2013 and the 2015 NBA playoffs.

History

The National Basketball Association was established in 1949 by merger of the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and National Basketball League but it recognizes the three BAA seasons as part of its own history. In all of its three years the BAA champion was finally determined in a best-of-seven series but its first two tournaments, the 1947 and 1948 BAA Playoffs, were otherwise quite different from the third, which 21st-century NBA playoffs nearly match. In 1947 and 1948, the Eastern and Western Division champions were matched in a best-of-seven series following the regular season, whose winner advanced to the championship round. Meanwhile, four runners-up played best-of-three series to determine the other finalist: the two second-place teams were matched in one short series and the two third-place teams in another; the winners of those two series played another one. In 1947 the Philadelphia Warriors won the runners-up bracket and beat the Western champion Chicago Stags four games to one, which the NBA recognizes as its first championship; in 1948 Baltimore won the runners-up and beat Eastern champion Philadelphia in the final. Both tournaments generated one finalist from the Eastern and one from the Western Division, but only by chance.[3]

In 1949 the third and last BAA tournament matched Eastern teams exclusively and Western teams exclusively, necessarily generating Eastern and Western playoff champions to meet in the final. At the same time, the number of playoff teams was increased from three to four from each Division; two rounds of best-of-three series were played, followed by a best-of-seven championship. The main idea was retained by the NBA. Even the 1950 tournament, following a transitional season with three divisions rather than two, initially determined one playoff champion from each division. The Central champion Minneapolis Lakers became the first league champion under the NBA name by defeating Anderson from the West in a best-of-three, with Syracuse from the East idle, and then knocking off the Syracuse Nationals in six games.[4]

The 1951 through 1953 playoffs changed the division finals into a best-of-five playoff. With only nine league members in 1953–54, the NBA cut its postseason tournament field from eight teams to six (from 1954 through 1966, the period of eight to nine league members). Round robins were played in 1954, uniquely in NBA history—a three-team round robin among the three playoff teams in each division. From 1955 to 1966, the first-place team in each division was idle while its two runners-up faced played a best-of-three. Division finals were expanded to best-of-seven in 1958 and division semifinals to best-of-five in 1961.

With ten league members again for the 1966–67 season, eight teams were again admitted to the tournament, providing a simple three-round knockout (8-team bracket). A year later, the division semifinals were changed to best-of-seven playoff. Then, in 1975 and 1977, respectively, a fifth and sixth team were added to each Division, necessitating an additional first round of best-of-three series.

Finally in 1984, the tournament expanded to its present 16-team, four-round knockout, and the now-complete set of first-round series were expanded to a best-of-five. In 2003 the first round was changed to also be best-of-seven.

Beginning with the 2004 season, with the addition of the thirtieth NBA franchise, the Charlotte Bobcats, the NBA realigned its divisions. The result was that each conference would have three divisions of five teams each, and the winner of each division was guaranteed a top-three playoff seed. This would change slightly after the 2005–06 season; while division winners still receive automatic playoff berths, they are guaranteed a top-four seed, as described below.

2006 NBA playoffs controversy

The previous playoff format, in place for the 2004–05 and 2005–06 NBA playoffs, after the NBA was re-aligned into six divisions, created controversy during the 2005–06 season and playoffs, and would be changed prior to the 2006–07 NBA season.[5]

Prior to 2005, NBA division champions were seeded higher than the other teams in their conference, regardless of their record. Prior to 2004, when the NBA was aligned into two conferences with two divisions each, the division champions were guaranteed the top two seeds. This meant that top two teams in a conference (by record) would be seeded either first and second (if they were in opposite divisions) or first and third (if they were in the same division). Because of the NBA playoffs' preset matchups in the second round, this meant that the top two teams in a conference could never meet until the conference finals, assuming they both made it to that round.

After the NBA realigned its two conferences into three divisions each, the seeding rules remained largely unchanged. The top three seeds would now be reserved for division champions. However, this meant that if the top two teams (by record) in a conference were in the same division, they would be seeded first and fourth. Assuming no first-round upsets, this raised the prospect that the top two teams in the conference would face each other in the conference semifinals, instead of the conference finals.

In the second year of this format, the 2005–06 NBA season, the two teams with the best records in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks of the Southwest Division, did just that. The Mavericks had the second-best record in the Western Conference and the third-best record in the entire league, behind the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio. However, they were seeded fourth because they finished second in the Southwest behind the Spurs. This turn of events led to the playoff format being criticized by many. Besides the prospect of a team losing earlier in the playoffs than its regular-season record or seeding would suggest, critics claimed that it also created an unfair advantage for teams in the 2-7/3-6 half of the Western Conference playoff bracket, who could advance to the conference finals without playing either of the two best teams in the conference in an earlier round.

The Phoenix Suns, winners of the Pacific Division and possessors of the third best record, were seeded second, while the Denver Nuggets, winners of the Northwest Division and tied for only the seventh-best record in the conference, were seeded third.

The Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers met in the second-to-last game of the regular season, after the top four seeds had been clinched. The two teams were already determined to be the fifth and sixth seeds, and had only to determine which rank higher. The fifth seed would likely need to defeat the best two teams in the conference without home-court advantage to advance to the conference finals, as it would face fourth-seeded Dallas in the first round and likely face first-seeded San Antonio if it managed to defeat Dallas. The sixth seed would play third-seeded Denver in the first round, but would have home-court advantage (since the Grizzlies had the fourth-best record in the conference and the Clippers had the fifth-best), and would not have to face either San Antonio or Dallas until the conference finals at the earliest.

This led to speculation about whether the Grizzlies or the Clippers would have much commitment to winning their match-up in the second-to-last game of the season, since it was clearly most advantageous to lose the game in order to obtain the 6th seed. The Clippers eventually lost to Memphis without much evidence to support the speculation that the Clippers had lost intentionally.[6] In the first round of the playoffs, the Clippers defeated the Nuggets in five games, while Memphis was swept by Dallas. Ultimately, Dallas and San Antonio did meet in the second round, with Dallas winning in seven games and advancing all the way to the NBA finals.

Timeline

  • 1947: The playoffs were instituted with a three-stage tournament, similar to the Stanley Cup playoffs of the 1930s; the two first-place teams qualified directly to one semifinal where they played each other in a best-of-7 series. Teams finishing second & third qualified for the best-of-3 quarterfinals, where the two second-placed teams were paired in one quarterfinal, as were the two third-placed teams, and the two quarterfinal winners played each other in a best-of-three semifinal. The two semifinal winners played each other in the Basketball Association of America (BAA) best-of-7 final series.
  Quarterfinals
Best-of-3
Semifinals
Best-of-3 (one series)

Best-of-7 (one series)

BAA finals
Best-of-7
                           
  E3    
W3    
  E3    
    E2    
W2  
  E2    
    E2  
  W1  
         
       
W1  
    E1    
     

There were no byes, or idle time, for the division champions – as there would be for higher-seeded playoff teams 1955–66 and 1975–83. All six 1947 participants played their first tournament games on Wednesday, April 2; in 1948 the two Eastern runners-up (E2, E3 in the figure) were idle for a few days only because there was a three-way Western tie to break. Both winners of the runners-up bracket, Philadelphia in 1947 and Baltimore in 1948, reached the final series having played fewer tournament games than their final opponents, Chicago in 1947 and Philadelphia in 1948, had played in the best-of-7 pairings of division champions. And both winners of the runners-up bracket won the final series. The "postseason" actually comprised 11 games played in a span of 21 days for the 1947 Chicago Stags and 13 games in 30 days for 1948 Philadelphia Warriors, the finalists who emerged from the pairing of division champions.[3]

  • 1949: The playoffs were reorganized to match Eastern Division teams exclusively, and Western Division teams exclusively – in two halves of the bracket, so to speak. Thus the BAA tournament generated a playoff champion in each Division. (So did the NBA in each of three 1950 divisions, and so it has done in each half of the league since then.) The top four teams from each of the two divisions qualified. The quarterfinals and semifinals were renamed division semifinals and division finals, respectively, and both rounds were best-of-3. Thus any playoff team might be eliminated in two games, one home game. The best-of-7 final was unchanged.
  Division semifinals
Best-of-3
Division finals
Best-of-3
BAA finals
Best-of-7
                           
  E1    
E4    
  E1    
Eastern Division
    E2    
E2  
  E3    
    E1  
  W2  
  W1    
W4    
W1  
Western Division
    W2    
W2  
  W3    
  • 1950: The BAA was renamed as the National Basketball Association (NBA). With a three-division setup, 12 teams now qualified for the playoffs, with the top four teams from each division meeting in the best-of-3 division semifinals. The winners met in the best-of-3 division finals. With three teams remaining, the surviving team with the best regular season record qualified directly for the finals while the other two teams met in a best-of-3 NBA semifinals.
  • 1951: With the NBA reverting to a two-division setup; the division semifinals reverted to its original 1949 format with only eight teams qualifying. The division finals was extended to a best-of-5 format.
  Division semifinals
Best-of-3
Division finals
Best-of-5
NBA finals
Best-of-7
                           
  E1    
E4    
  E4    
Eastern Division
    E2    
E2  
  E3    
    E2  
  W3  
  W1    
W4    
W1  
Western Division
    W3    
W2  
  W3    
  • 1954: With only nine league members (soon to be eight), the number of playoff teams was cut down to six. The division semifinals was changed to a double round-robin format within the division, with the top three teams from each division qualifying (each team played four games). Following the round-robin games, the top two teams qualified for the best-of-three division finals, followed by the best-of-seven finals.
  • 1955: The number of playoff teams remained at six, but the initial round-robin was dropped after one year in favor of giving the first-place team in each division a bye to the best-of-five division finals. Teams which placed second and third played a best-of-three division semifinal. In 1955 the byes provided five and six extra days idle for the first-place teams.[7]
  • 1958: The division finals was extended to a best-of-seven format.
  • 1961: The division semifinals were extended to a best-of-five format.
  Division semifinals
Best-of-3 (1955–1960),

Best-of-5 (1961–1966)

Division finals
Best-of-5 (1955–1957),

Best-of-7 (1958–1966)

NBA finals
Best-of-7
                           
       
  E1    
Eastern Division
    E3    
E2  
  E3    
    E3  
  W1  
         
       
W1  
Western Division
    W2    
W2  
  W3    

The 1961 to 1966 tournaments alone combined initial byes for seeded teams with best-of-five initial series for unseeded teams. The 1961 byes provided five and seven extra days idle for the first-place teams. By 1966 the schedule provided more rest for the first-round participants with byes of 11 and eight extra days idle.[8]

  • 1967: The number of playoff teams was expanded to eight once more. The division semifinals now included the fourth-best team in each conference. The first-placed teams no longer received a bye. They were matched against the fourth-placed teams in the best-of-5 division semifinals.
  • 1968: The division semifinals was extended to a best-of-seven format.
  Division semifinals
Best-of-5 (1967),

Best-of-7 (1968–1970)

Division finals
Best-of-7 (1968–1970)
NBA finals
Best-of-7
                           
  E1    
E4    
         
Eastern Division
           
E2  
  E3    
         
       
  W1    
W4    
     
Western Division
           
W2  
  W3    
  • 1970: With an increased number of teams, the divisions were upgraded into conferences, which were then split into two divisions. Eight teams still qualified, four from each conference. The two division winners were guaranteed at least a #2 seed, and the two best non-division winners from each conference qualified as third and fourth seeds. Hence, the division semifinals and division finals came to be known as conference semifinals and conference finals, respectively.
  Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
                           
  E1*    
E4    
         
Eastern Conference
           
E2*  
  E3    
         
       
  W1*    
W4    
     
Western Conference
           
W2*  
  W3    
  • 1975: The number of playoff teams was expanded from eight to ten. A first round was introduced which matched the fourth and fifth seeds in each conference in a best-of-3 first round series, while the top three seeds received a bye. This is similar to the system currently used in the MLB.
  First Round
Best-of-3
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
                                     
       
  E1*    
       
E4  
E5    
         
Eastern Conference
         
       
       
  E2*  
    E3    
     
       
       
       
       
       
  W1*  
       
W4  
W5    
       
Western Conference
         
       
       
  W2*  
    W3    
     
  • 1977: The number of playoff teams was expanded from 10 to 12. The first round now included the sixth best team in each conference, which was matched against the third seed. Only the division winners received byes to the next round. This is similar to the format currently used by the NFL.
  First Round
Best-of-3
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
                                     
       
  E1*  
     
E4  
E5  
         
Eastern Conference
         
E3    
E6  
  E2*
     
     
       
       
       
       
       
  W1*
     
W4  
W5    
       
Western Conference
         
W3    
W6    
  W2*
     
     

The 1983 tournament is the latest to incorporate first-round byes for seeded teams. The first-round best-of-three series tapped off on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 19 and 20; the second-round best-of-sevens on Sunday to the following Wednesday, April 27. Counting from Tuesday the byes provided five to eight extra days idle.[9]

  • 1984: The playoffs were expanded from 12 teams to 16 teams. All teams now participated in the first round, which was extended to a best-of-five series.
Conference quarterfinals
Best-of-5
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
            
E1*  
E8  
 
 
E4  
E5  
 
Eastern Conference
 
E3  
E6  
 
 
E2*  
E7  
 
 
W1*  
W8  
 
 
W4  
W5  
 
Western Conference
 
W3  
W6  
 
 
W2*  
W7  
  • 2003: The first round was extended to a best-of-seven series. This change arguably benefitted the higher seeds as it reduced the likelihood of an upset by a lower seed. It also meant that a team that swept their series 4–0 might have to wait up to two weeks to play their next series against a team that had won 4–3.
Conference quarterfinals
Best-of-7
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
            
E1*  
E8  
 
 
E4  
E5  
 
Eastern Conference
 
E3  
E6  
 
 
E2*  
E7  
 
 
W1*  
W8  
 
 
W4  
W5  
 
Western Conference
 
W3  
W6  
 
 
W2*  
W7  
  • 2005: Each conference was realigned into three divisions with each division winner qualifying for a top-three seed regardless of record. The next best five teams from each conference also qualify for the playoffs.
Conference quarterfinals
Best-of-7
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
            
E1*  
E8  
 
 
E4  
E5  
 
Eastern Conference
 
E3*  
E6  
 
 
E2*  
E7  
 
 
W1*  
W8  
 
 
W4  
W5  
 
Western Conference
 
W3*  
W6  
 
 
W2*  
W7  
  • 2007: To address the criticisms of having each division champion guaranteed a top-three seed, regardless of record, the rules were changed such that the division winners are now only guaranteed a top-four seed. The team with the second-best record in the conference is now guaranteed the second seed, even if it finishes second in its own division. This ensures that the two best teams in the conference will not meet until the conference finals at the earliest. The previous system raised the prospect of the two best teams in the conference being seeded 1 and 4 if they play in the same division, thus forcing them to play each other in the second round (given no upsets).
    • Note: In the example below, the East's #2 seed is not a division champion.
Conference quarterfinals
Best-of-7
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
            
E1*  
E8  
 
 
E5  
E4*  
 
Eastern Conference
 
E3*  
E6  
 
 
E2  
E7  
 
 
W1*  
W8  
 
 
W5  
W4  
 
Western Conference
 
W3*  
W6  
 
 
W2*  
W7  
  • 2016: While the playoff bracketing did not change, qualification criteria were changed. The teams with the eight best records in each conference receive playoff berths, with no automatic berths nor guaranteed top-four seed placement for division champions.

Team roster

Playoff teams must identify their postseason roster before the playoffs begin. They are allowed up to 15 players and can designate two as inactive for each game.[10] Players are eligible to be on a team's playoff roster provided they were on the team for at least one regular season game, and were not on another NBA team's roster after March 1.[11] Previously, playoff rosters were limited to 12 players who were named before the playoffs began.[10]

Records and statistics

  • Only five 8th seeded teams have managed to win a series versus the number 1 seeded team: The Denver Nuggets eliminated the Seattle SuperSonics 3–2 in 1994. The New York Knicks eliminated the Miami Heat 3–2 in 1999. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks 4–2 in the 2007 Western Conference First Round (becoming the first 8 seed to beat a 1 seed in the best of 7 format). In 2011, the Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs, 4–2 and in 2012, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 4–2.
  • The 1999 Knicks are the only 8th seeded team ever to reach the NBA finals; no 8th seeded team has yet won the NBA finals as of now.
  • The 1956–57 St. Louis Hawks, 1958–59 Minneapolis Lakers and the 1980–81 Houston Rockets are the only teams with losing records (34-38, 33–39 and 40–42, respectively) to make it to the NBA finals. In 1981, the Houston Rockets' opponent in the Western Conference Finals, the Kansas City Kings, also had a losing record (40–42). Boston Celtics beat all of these teams in the finals.
  • The 1994–95 Houston Rockets, a sixth seed with a record of 47–35, are the lowest seeded team to win the NBA finals. In the NBA finals, the Rockets swept the Orlando Magic (57–25) in four games; in doing so, the Rockets defeated four teams that had won 50 or more games during the regular season (the Utah Jazz at 60–22, the Phoenix Suns at 59–23, the San Antonio Spurs at 62–20 and Orlando at 57–25), the first time a team had done so. As of now, the 1994-1995 Rockets are the only team to have won an NBA title without having the home-court advantage during any round of the playoffs.
  • The Golden State Warriors own the longest NBA playoff winning streak for a single postseason with 15 straight wins in the 2017 playoffs.
  • Of all the teams with multiple NBA finals appearances, the Chicago Bulls are the only team to have never lost in the finals, winning six.
  • The Boston Celtics possess the most overall NBA finals series wins with an overall record of 17–4. The Los Angeles/Minneapolis Lakers have played in the most NBA finals series (31), with an overall record of 16–15.
  • The longest active playoff appearance streak currently belongs to the San Antonio Spurs with 22 consecutive appearances in the playoffs, beginning in the 1997–98 NBA season. The longest ever streak of playoffs appearances in a row is currently shared between the Spurs and the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers, who made the playoffs 22 straight years from the 1949–50 season to the 1970–71 season.
  • In 1983, under the bye-7-7-7 system, the Philadelphia 76ers attained the best record of 12-1, having only lost in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.
  • In 2001, under the best of 5-7-7-7 system, the Los Angeles Lakers attained the best record of 15-1, having only lost in Game 1 of the Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers.
  • In 2017, under the best of 7-7-7-7 system, the Golden State Warriors attained the best record of 16-1, having only lost in Game 4 of the Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors and Cavaliers came into the Finals with a combined record of 24-1, with the Cavaliers having only lost in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.
  • Of the 73 NBA champions, 71 of them were either a No. 1 seed (52), a No. 2 seed (12) or a No. 3 seed (7). Only one fourth seed has ever won it 1968–69 Boston Celtics

Playoff appearances

Current as of the 2019 NBA playoffs

Appearances by active teams

Team Appearances[12]
Los Angeles Lakers 60 [A]
Boston Celtics 56
Philadelphia 76ers 49 [B]
Atlanta Hawks 46 [C]
Detroit Pistons 42 [D]
New York Knicks 41
San Antonio Spurs 39 [E]
Chicago Bulls 35
Golden State Warriors 35 [F]
Portland Trail Blazers 35
Houston Rockets 33 [G]
Milwaukee Bucks 31
Oklahoma City Thunder 31 [H]
Phoenix Suns 29
Sacramento Kings 29 [I]
Washington Wizards 29 [J]
Utah Jazz 28 [K]
Indiana Pacers 26 [E]
Denver Nuggets 25 [E]
Cleveland Cavaliers 22
Dallas Mavericks 21
Brooklyn Nets 20 [E][L]
Miami Heat 20
Orlando Magic 15
Los Angeles Clippers 14 [M]
Toronto Raptors 11
Charlotte Hornets 10 [N]
Memphis Grizzlies 10
Minnesota Timberwolves 9
New Orleans Pelicans 7 [N]
  1. ^ Includes appearances as the Minneapolis Lakers (1947–1960).
  2. ^ Includes appearances as the Syracuse Nationals (1946–1963).
  3. ^ Includes appearances as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks (1946–1951), the Milwaukee Hawks (1951–1955), and the St. Louis Hawks (1955–1968).
  4. ^ Includes appearances as the Fort Wayne Pistons (1949–1957).
  5. ^ a b c d Does not include appearances in the American Basketball Association (ABA) playoffs. Per the conditions of the ABA–NBA merger, the NBA does not officially recognize the ABA history, playoffs and records.
  6. ^ Includes appearances as the Philadelphia Warriors (1946–1962) and the San Francisco Warriors (1962–1971).
  7. ^ Includes appearances as the San Diego Rockets (1967–1971).
  8. ^ As part of the 2008 relocation settlement with the City of Seattle, the Thunder officially shares its history with that of the Seattle SuperSonics (1967–2008).[13]
  9. ^ Includes appearances as the Rochester Royals (1948–1957), the Cincinnati Royals (1957–1972), the Kansas City-Omaha Kings (1972–1975), and the Kansas City Kings (1975–1985).
  10. ^ Includes appearances as the Chicago Packers (1961–1962), the Chicago Zephyrs (1962–1963), the Baltimore Bullets (1963–1973), the Capital Bullets (1973–1974), and the Washington Bullets (1974–1997).
  11. ^ Includes appearances as the New Orleans Jazz (1974–1979).
  12. ^ Includes appearances as the New Jersey Nets (1977–2012).
  13. ^ Includes appearances as the Buffalo Braves (1970–1978).
  14. ^ a b The New Orleans Pelicans were originally named the Charlotte Hornets, and moved to New Orleans in 2002. A new team, the Charlotte Bobcats, was then established in 2004. When the Charlotte team reclaimed the Hornets name in a 2014 agreement, the Charlotte team also reclaimed the history of the original Hornets; as such, the New Orleans Pelicans were established in 2002, and the Bobcats/Hornets rejoined the NBA in 2004.[14]

See also

References

  1. ^ "NBA to seed conference playoff teams by record" (Press release). National Basketball Association. September 8, 2015. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  2. ^ "NBA owners change Finals format to 2-2-1-1-1". NBA.com. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
  3. ^ a b "1946–47 BAA Season Summary".
      "1947–48 BAA Season Summary". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2015-03-01.
      Select "Next Season" from the heading for 1947–48, and so on. Select "Finals" from League Playoffs for the daily schedule of the final series, and so on.
  4. ^ "1948–49 BAA Season Summary".
      "1949–50 NBA Season Summary". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2015-03-01.
  5. ^ "ESPN – NBA announces postseason seeding format change – NBA". ESPN.com. 2006-08-02. Retrieved 2014-01-30.
  6. ^ "No losers here? Grizzlies win, Clippers get home court". ESPN. 2006-04-19. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  7. ^ "1954-55 NBA Season Summary". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2015-03-01.
  8. ^ "1960-61 NBA Season Summary".
      "1966-66 NBA Season Summary". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2015-03-01.
  9. ^ "1982–83 NBA Season Summary". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2015-03-01.
  10. ^ a b Pastuszek, Jon (April 9, 2013). "Pastuszek: Could Yi Jianlian Help an NBA Playoff Team?". SheridanHoops.com. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  11. ^ Helin, Kurt (March 21, 2011). "Winderman: Still time to add good player (or Eddy Curry) to playoff roster". NBCSports.com. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  12. ^ "Franchise History". NBA.com. February 17, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  13. ^ "Details of settlement between Bennett, Seattle revealed". ESPN.com. August 20, 2008. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  14. ^ "Charlotte Hornets Name Returns to Carolinas". Charlotte Hornets. May 20, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2014.

External links

1960 NBA playoffs

The 1960 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1959-60 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Division champion Boston Celtics defeating the Western Division champion St. Louis Hawks 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals.

This was the second straight and third overall NBA title for Boston, who got revenge for the Hawks' win over them in 1958. The 1960 Finals was the third Celtics–Hawks Finals in the past four years.

1961 NBA playoffs

The 1961 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1960-61 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Division champion Boston Celtics defeating the Western Division champion St. Louis Hawks 4 games to 1 in the NBA Finals.

The Lakers made the playoffs for the first time after moving to Los Angeles. They were one game away from their first Finals in L.A. as the St. Louis Hawks defeat them.

For the Celtics, it was their third straight NBA title and fourth overall. This would be the last Finals appearance for the Hawks franchise to date; though they still exist in the NBA as the Atlanta Hawks, they have yet to return to the Finals as of 2019.

1965 NBA playoffs

The 1965 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1964–65 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Division champion Boston Celtics defeating the Western Division champion Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 1 in the NBA Finals.

Boston won its seventh consecutive NBA title and eighth overall while handing the Lakers their fourth straight Finals loss in the process.

This was the first playoff appearance for the Baltimore Bullets, who had begun play in the 1961–62 season as the Chicago Packers.

1966 NBA playoffs

The 1966 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1965–66 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Division champion Boston Celtics defeating the Western Division champion Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals.

The Celtics won their eighth consecutive NBA title and ninth overall, defeating the Lakers in the Finals for a fifth straight time.

This was the last NBA playoffs under the "top team in each division gets a first-round bye" format established in the 1955 NBA playoffs; the 1967 NBA playoffs featured an eight-team tournament with no first-round byes.

1967 NBA playoffs

The 1967 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1966-67 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Division champion Philadelphia 76ers defeating the Western Division champion San Francisco Warriors 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals.

It was the 76ers' second NBA title in franchise history; their first had come in 1955 as the Syracuse Nationals.

The Boston Celtics were denied the chance to win their ninth straight championship, though they would win the title the following two seasons.

The expansion Chicago Bulls made the playoffs in their debut season, and the New York Knicks returned to the postseason for the first time since 1959. It is the longest gap in Knicks franchise history, a record they matched when they missed the playoffs starting in 2004 and ending in 2011.

The 1967 NBA playoffs marked a change in the league's playoff format; every tournament since 1955 had given the top-ranked team in each division a first-round bye, but starting this season, the NBA upped the number of playoff teams to eight, thereby eliminating a first-round bye for the regular-season division champions.

1970 NBA playoffs

The 1970 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1969–70 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Division champion New York Knicks defeating the Western Division champion Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals. Willis Reed was named NBA Finals MVP.

It was the first NBA title for the Knicks in franchise history, and was their first appearance in the finals since losing their third straight finals in 1953 to the Lakers while they were still in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For the Lakers, it was their third straight Western Division title and second straight year they lost in Game 7 of the NBA finals. The Lakers dropped their eighth straight NBA finals series (the previous 7 to the Boston Celtics) and were denied their first NBA title since 1954.

It was also the playoff debut of the second-year Milwaukee Bucks, and they managed a first-round defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Boston missed the playoffs for the first time since 1951, despite being the defending champions.

1971 NBA playoffs

The 1971 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1970–71 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Milwaukee Bucks defeating the Eastern Conference champion Baltimore Bullets 4 games to 0 in the NBA Finals.

Led by Finals MVP and the previous season's Rookie of the Year Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson, the Bucks became the fastest expansion team in NBA history to win the championship (a record that they still hold as of 2018), and did so in dominating fashion, finishing 12-2 in the playoffs with a postseason average point differential of 14.5.The playoff format changed from the previous 2-division format. There were now 4, with each division qualifying its champion and second-place team. In the Conference Semifinals, the champion of each division played the 2nd place team in the other, with the divisional champion having home-court advantage. The two winners then played for the conference championship.

This was the first NBA Finals appearance for the Bullets, and their only trip to the championship round in Baltimore; they made 3 more appearances (winning one title) later in the decade.

The 1971 playoffs was the last for the San Francisco Warriors under that moniker; the following season, symbolizing their already-established home base of Oakland, they changed their name to the Golden State Warriors.

1972 NBA playoffs

The 1972 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1971–72 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Eastern Conference champion New York Knicks 4 games to 1 in the NBA Finals. Wilt Chamberlain was named NBA Finals MVP.

The Lakers finished the regular season with the best record in NBA history at 69–13, a mark that was unequalled until the 1996 Bulls finished 72–10. Led by Chamberlain and Jerry West, the Lakers won their first title in Los Angeles; their last title was in 1954 as the Minneapolis Lakers.

The Lakers won their first NBA Finals in their last nine appearances without superstar Elgin Baylor, who had played in each of the preceding eight losses. He retired nine games into the season because of ongoing knee problems.

1975 NBA playoffs

The 1975 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1974–75 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors defeating the Eastern Conference champion Washington Bullets 4 games to 0 in the NBA Finals. Rick Barry was named NBA Finals MVP. The Warriors won their third NBA title and first since 1956 as the Philadelphia Warriors.

The playoff format was revised again, as the result of which the first two finishers in each division were guaranteed playoff berths, along with the best third-place team from each conference. Once each conference's qualifiers were selected, they were seeded 1–5, with the fourth and fifth seeds playing a best-of-three series, with the victor advancing to play the first seed in a best-of-seven semifinal, while the second and third seeds played the other semifinal.

The eight-year-old Seattle SuperSonics made their playoff debut, winning the first playoff series in franchise history against the Detroit Pistons. Seattle would go on to make consecutive NBA Finals appearances in 1978 and 1979, winning the championship the latter year.

The Kansas City-Omaha Kings made their first playoff appearance since 1967 as the Cincinnati Royals, and the Houston Rockets made their first playoff appearance since 1969 as the San Diego Rockets.

The 1975 playoffs expanded the number of playoff qualifiers to 10; it would be expanded again to 12 in 1977 and again to its current number of 16 in 1984.

At the time, this was the closest the Chicago Bulls came to an NBA title, losing to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals 4–3. This was their only Western Conference Finals appearance as they would move to the Eastern Conference in 1980. They would not reach the East Finals until 1989, and would not win a title until 1991.

1976 NBA playoffs

The 1976 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1975–76 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics defeating the Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals. The series was highlighted by Game 5, a 3-OT victory by Boston. The Celtics won their 13th NBA title, second in the Dave Cowens era. Jo Jo White was named NBA Finals MVP.

The Suns earned their first two playoff series victories in franchise history to advance to the NBA Finals; they won their second (and as of 2019, most recent) Western Conference title in 1993.

The sixth-year Cleveland Cavaliers made their first playoff appearance and won their first playoff series.

This was the final playoff appearance for the Buffalo Braves franchise in Buffalo and last until 1992, when they returned as the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Philadelphia 76ers made the playoffs for the first time since 1971, starting a 12-year run that included four NBA Finals appearances (1977, 1980, 1982, and 1983).

Despite winning their division with a losing record of 38-44, the Milwaukee Bucks were forced to play in the best of three first round against the Detroit Pistons.

This is also noted to be the most recent NBA Playoffs that did not include a sweep.

1977 NBA playoffs

The 1977 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1976–77 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Portland Trail Blazers defeating the Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals. It was Portland's first (and so far, only) NBA title. Bill Walton was named NBA Finals MVP.

Portland won the NBA title in its first playoff appearance, something that had not taken place since the early days of the BAA (and has not since, as of 2018). The Trail Blazers went 10-0 at home in the playoffs.

This was the first NBA playoffs after the ABA-NBA merger; two of the former ABA teams (the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets) made their playoff debuts in their first NBA season. The New Jersey Nets made their playoff debut in 1979, and the Indiana Pacers in 1981.

The NBA Playoffs added 1 more team from each conference, for a total of 12 contestants, up from 10 the previous year. Also, the two division winners in each conference were automatically given a first-round bye and started the playoffs in the conference semi-finals.

This was the Detroit Pistons last playoff appearance of the decade and their last as a Western Conference team as they would move to the East in 1978. They would not make the postseason again until 1984.

For the first time since 1956, the Eastern Conference Finals had neither the Celtics nor Knicks participating.

The referees went on strike during these playoffs.

1978 NBA playoffs

The 1978 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1977-78 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Washington Bullets defeating the Western Conference champion Seattle SuperSonics 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals. Wes Unseld was named NBA Finals MVP. To date, it remains the only NBA title that the Bullets (since renamed the Wizards) have won.

It was the third NBA Finals appearance and first title for the Bullets, founded in 1961. The Sonics made the Finals for the first time in their 11-year existence. This would be the first of two straight meetings in the Finals between the Bullets and Sonics, with Seattle winning the title the next year.

This was the first time since the expansion of the playoff field to 10 teams in 1975 that neither conference champion had the benefit of a first-round bye by being one of the top two teams in the conference during the regular season. The 1979 Finals rematch between the Sonics and Bullets took place with both teams as the #1 seed in their respective conference.

The Denver Nuggets, one of the four former American Basketball Association teams to join the NBA the previous season, became the first of them to win an NBA playoff series, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in a 7-game conference semifinal.

1979 NBA playoffs

The 1979 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association’s 1978–79 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Seattle SuperSonics defeating the Eastern Conference champion Washington Bullets 4 games to 1 in the NBA Finals. The Sonics earned their only NBA title. Dennis Johnson was named NBA Finals MVP.

The Finals was a rematch of 1978, in which Washington defeated Seattle 4–3. As of the 2018–19 season, this remains the last time the Bullets (now the Wizards) have advanced as far as the Conference Finals.

The Spurs made their first visit to the Conference Finals in these playoffs.

This was the first time that three of the former ABA teams made the playoffs, as it was the NBA playoff debut of the New Jersey Nets.

This was the first time both conference finals went to a deciding Game 7 since 1963 and the last until 2018.

1990 NBA playoffs

The 1990 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1989–90 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons defeating the Western Conference champion Portland Trail Blazers 4 games to 1 in the NBA Finals. Isiah Thomas was named NBA Finals MVP.

It was the Blazers' first trip to the NBA Finals since their stunning victory in the 1977 NBA Finals.

The New York Knicks fell behind 2–0 to the Boston Celtics in their first round matchup, but took the series 3–2 by winning Game 5 124–117 in Boston Garden.

The Phoenix Suns defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in a playoff series for the first time ever. It also marked the first time since 1981 that the Lakers failed to reach the Western Conference Finals, ending the longest such run since the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics, who made the Eastern Conference Finals thirteen consecutive times between 1957 and 1969.

It was the first NBA Finals to not feature the Lakers or Celtics since 1979.

The Chicago Bulls lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals 93–74 in Detroit, making it the third straight year they were ousted in the playoffs by the Pistons.

The Indiana Pacers made only their third playoff appearance since their NBA debut in the 1976–77 season; they proceeded to make the playoffs 16 out of the next 17 years (missing only in 1997).

The Dallas Mavericks made their only playoff appearance of the decade. They did not return until 2001.

Game 5 of the NBA Finals was the last NBA game to be televised on CBS.

1991 NBA playoffs

The 1991 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1990–91 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Chicago Bulls defeating the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 1 in the NBA Finals. Michael Jordan was named NBA Finals MVP.

The Lakers reached the Finals despite not being the top seed in the Western Conference for the first time since 1981, and for just the second time since drafting Magic Johnson first overall in 1979.

After the Pistons had ended their season the last three years, the Bulls got revenge in the Eastern Conference Finals by sweeping the two-time defending NBA champions. It was the first time the Bulls won a playoff series over the Pistons since 1974, when both teams were still part of the Western Conference. Game 4 ended with some of the Pistons walking off the court before time expired, refusing to shake the Bulls' hands. In the 1989 NBA Finals, the Pistons themselves had swept the two-time defending champion Lakers. Detroit did not reach the conference finals again until 2003.

The seventh seeded Golden State Warriors stunned the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, defeating them 3 games to 1. It would be Golden State's last playoff series win until 2007.

The 76ers and the Bucks met in the first round of the playoffs where the 76ers swept the series. It would be both teams last playoff appearance until 1999.

Game 4 of the Blazers–Jazz series was the last game ever played at the Salt Palace.

The Spectrum hosted its final NBA playoff game in Game 4 of the Bulls–76ers series. When the 76ers returned to the playoffs in 1999, they had moved to the CoreStates Center, their home since the 1996–97 season.

This was the first year that NBC aired the NBA Playoffs.

1994 NBA playoffs

The 1994 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1993-94 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Houston Rockets defeating the Eastern Conference champion New York Knicks 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals. Hakeem Olajuwon was named NBA Finals MVP.

This was also the first time that the Boston Celtics since 1979, and Los Angeles Lakers since 1976, missed the playoffs and their first-ever absence since the playoff field expanded to 16 teams in 1984. This was the first time that both missed the playoffs in the same year. This would not occur again until 2014.

The biggest upset came in the first round, when the Denver Nuggets came back from a 2–0 deficit to beat the Seattle SuperSonics in five games, marking the first time in NBA history that an eighth seed had defeated a #1 seed. Denver stretched their improbable playoff run with the Utah Jazz to seven games after being down 0–3, but Utah defeated them in Game 7 91–81.

The playoffs also featured the very first playoff series victory for the Indiana Pacers in their 18-year NBA existence, as they swept the Orlando Magic (who were making their first playoff appearance in franchise history) in the first round, then eliminated the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks 4–2 in the second round. The Pacers advanced within one game of the NBA Finals, but lost Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Knicks.

This was the first time since the ABA–NBA merger prior to the 1976–77 season that all former ABA teams (Pacers, Nuggets, Spurs, and Nets) made the playoffs in the same year.

The Chicago Bulls, who made the playoffs despite the retirement of Michael Jordan, swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, but then lost in seven games to the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The Knicks made history by playing a record 25 playoff games (one short of the maximum), the most postseason games that an NBA team had ever played. The 2005 Detroit Pistons tied this record. However, it was broken by the 2008 Celtics. Their easiest series was the first-round 3–1 win over the Nets. New York then forced three consecutive Game 7s, eliminating the Bulls 4–3 in the Conference Semifinals, knocking off the Pacers 4–3 in the Conference Finals, both times at Madison Square Garden, before losing in Game 7 to the Rockets at The Summit in the NBA Finals, which meant New York was denied NBA and NHL titles. Game 4 of the Finals took place at the Garden a day after the New York Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 54 years in Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. Knicks coach Pat Riley made history by becoming the first (and to this date, the only) person in NBA history to have coached a Game 7 in the NBA Finals for two teams, having been with the Lakers in 1984 and 1988. However, he had the distinction to have become the first (and as of 2019, only) coach to lose a Game 7 in the NBA Finals on two teams, as his Lakers lost to the Celtics in 1984. It also denied him the distinction of becoming the first coach to win a Game 7 in the NBA Finals with two teams, as his Lakers defeated the Detroit Pistons in 1988.

In the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors made their last playoff appearance until 2007.

Game 3 of the Bulls-Cavaliers series was the last game ever played at the Richfield Coliseum.

Game 6 of the Bulls-Knicks series was the last game ever played at Chicago Stadium.

Game 5 of the Nuggets-Sonics series was the last to be played at Seattle Center Coliseum before the renovations and renaming into KeyArena two years later. The Sonics played the intervening 1994–95 NBA season at Tacoma Dome in nearby Tacoma, Washington.

1995 NBA playoffs

The 1995 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1994–95 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Houston Rockets defeating the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic 4 games to 0 in the NBA Finals. Hakeem Olajuwon was named NBA Finals MVP for the second straight time.

As of 2019, the 1995 Rockets are the lowest-seeded team to ever win the NBA Championship.Houston became the eighth team to win back-to-back titles (after the Minneapolis Lakers of 1949 and 1950, and again 1952–54, and the Celtics dynasty of 1959–66 and again in 1968–69, as the LA Lakers of 1987 and 1988, Pistons of 1989 and 1990 and Bulls of 1991, 1992 and 1993). It would go on to happen twelve more times, with the Bulls winning 3 more from 1996 to 1998, the Lakers from 2000–2002 and 2009–2010, the Miami Heat from 2012–13, and the Golden State Warriors from 2017–18. The Rockets championships were also part of a run that saw 4 teams win consecutive titles (The Lakers 1987–88, Pistons 1989–90, Bulls 1991–93 and 1996–98, Rockets 1994–95). That streak was stopped by a Spurs franchise, who like the Celtics of the 1980s, didn't win back-to-back titles, but did win numerous championships and is considered a dynasty.

The sixth-seeded Rockets (47–35) took out 4 impressive opponents on their way to the title, defeating the 3rd-seeded Utah Jazz (60–22), 2nd-seeded Phoenix Suns (59–23), top-seeded San Antonio Spurs (62–20) and Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic (57–25) in the NBA Finals. In the Conference Semifinals against the Suns, the Rockets came back from a 2–0 and 3–1 series deficit without home-court advantage, winning Games 5 and 7 in Phoenix. Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon dominated league MVP David Robinson and Shaquille O'Neal in consecutive series to win the title. The Rockets 47 wins were the fewest by an NBA champion since the Washington Bullets tallied 44 in 1978.

The 1995 Playoffs featured the first 3 playoff series victories in Magic history, as they beat the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, and Indiana Pacers to win their first Eastern Conference title.

It also featured the return of Michael Jordan to the playoffs after a year and a half absence, returning in March, and the only time the Bulls didn't win a title with him on the roster since they started their string of titles in 1991.

Game 4 of the Celtics-Magic series was the last game played at Boston Garden. Boston returned to the playoffs in 2002, this time in the new FleetCenter (now TD Garden).

Game 3 of the Blazers-Suns series was the last game played at the then-Memorial Coliseum (renamed the Veterans Memorial Coliseum as of 2012). The Blazers continued their playoff streak at Rose Garden (now Moda Center) for the next 7 years.

Game 3 of the Spurs-Nuggets series was the final playoff game at McNichols Sports Arena; the Nuggets missed the playoffs in each of the arena's final four years. Denver returned to the playoffs in 2004, this time in the new Pepsi Center.

The Pacers made the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year (and finally defeated the New York Knicks on their way to doing so), but found the Magic too powerful to overcome. Coincidentally, they met all 3 playoff opponents (Orlando, Atlanta, and New York) they had in 1994, just in a different order.

Since the NBA playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984, the Jazz became the second team (along with the 1994 Sonics) to win at least 60 regular season games and lose in the first round, when they lost to the eventual NBA champion Rockets.

2007 NBA playoffs

The 2007 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 2006–07 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs defeating the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers 4 games to 0 in the NBA Finals. Tony Parker was named NBA Finals MVP, making him the first Spur other than Tim Duncan and the first European-born player to receive the award.

2019–20 NBA season

The 2019–20 NBA season will be the 74th season of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The regular season will begin in October 2019 and will end in April 2020. The playoffs will begin in April 2020, and will end with the NBA Finals in June 2020. The 2020 NBA All-Star Game will be played on February 16, 2020, at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

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