Wednesday’s Den: Playoff trends for NBA teams……

Watching The Last Dance the last five Sundays, I got curious about teams’ records overall in playoff rounds over the years; since I have absolutely nothing to do these days, other than write about Korean baseball, I decided to do a research project, how every NBA team has fared in playoff series since 1980, Magic/Bird’s rookie year.

Here is some of what I found:

13). From 1989-98, Chicago Bulls played on 34 playoff series, won 30 of them, winning six NBA titles. Their record in actual playoff games during that stretch? 120-49.

Since Jordan/Pippen left the Bulls 22 years ago, Chicago has been in the playoffs 11 times, winning five of 16 playoff series. Bulls are 39-52 in playoff games since their last title.

12) Los Angeles Lakers haven’t been in the playoffs since 2013; they would’ve made it this year, or will make it, if they continue the season.

From 1980-89, the heart of the Magic Johnson era, Lakers won 28 of 33 playoff series, winning five titles, going 111-48 in playoff games.

From 2000-10, Lakers won 25 of 30 playoff series, winning five more titles, going 114-57 in playoff games. Lot of success for sure, but their last series win was in 2012.

11) From 1980-88, the Celtics won 22 of 28 playoff series, and three NBA titles. Boston went 92-57 in playoff games during that time.

Celtics’ title in 2008 is their only one since 1986.

10) From 1980-2005, Cleveland Cavaliers made the playoffs 10 times, went 3-10 in playoff series, 21-38 in playoff games- thats for a 26-year period.

Since 2006, Cleveland is 21-8 in playoff series, 97-55 in playoff games; having Lebron James obviously helped them win a lot of playoff games. 

9) My point here is that it is really difficult to sustain prolonged success in a 30-team league where great players determine who wins and who loses.

Watching Jerry Krause seem anxious to break up the Bulls’ nucleus when they were on a roll seems like a sketchy strategy; when you going to have a combo like Jordan/Pippen again? You milk it for all the wins you can, then you move on, but thats not what happened.

8) Then there are the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have been in the NBA since 1989-90; they made the playoffs eight years in a row, from 1997-2004, but have only made the playoffs one other time. Timberwolves are 2-9 in playoff series, with both wins coming in 2004- they’ve lost 34 of 52 playoff games in franchise history.

7) From 1999-2014, San Antonio Spurs won five NBA titles, but unlike the Bulls, Lakers or Golden State, they never won consecutive titles. Spurs’ record in playoff series in the years following an NBA title? 4-5, not very good, but five titles is damn good.

6) From 1980-2014, the Warriors were only 5-8 in playoff series, that is five series wins in 34 years, pretty poor. When I would go to Las Vegas summer league games, the Warriors always had the most fans, it was strange. Avid fanbase, less-than-stellar team.

Things have obviously changed; since 2015, Golden State made the Finals five years in a row, winning three titles, winning 18 of 20 playoff series, going 77-28 in playoff games, after going 27-37 in playoff games, from 1980-2014.

5) Washington Bullets/Wizards won the NBA title in 1978, lost the Finals in ’79, but since then, Washington has lost 16 of 21 playoff series, thats five series wins in 40 years. During that time, Wizards are 38-61 in playoff games.

4) Over the last 40 years, Atlanta Hawks lost 26 of 39 playoff series, with 2015 the only time they’ve won two playoff series in the same season (since ’80).

Weird stat: despite their lack of playoff success, the Hawks have played in 14 winner-take-all games, whether they were best-0f-5 or best-of-7 series, and Atlanta went 7-7 in those games. They were swept in 8 of those 26 series losses.

3) Sacramento Kings haven’t made the playoffs since 2006; their franchise has moved from Rochester to Cincinnati to Kansas City to Omaha (kind of) and then to Sacramento- over the last 40 years, the Kings have lost 13 of 20 playoff series, winning two series in both 1981, 2002. During that time, the Kings are 43-54 in playoff games.

2) New York Knicks won NBA titles in 1970, ’73; my dad was a huge Knicks fan. They made the Finals in 1994, 1999, but lost both times, to Rockets/Spurs. Since 1980, Knicks are 20-21 in playoff series, but like the Lakers, they haven’t made the playoffs since 2013, but unlike LA, the Knicks’ present isn’t looking too bright.

If Michael Bloomberg wants to help New York City, and I know he does, he should buy the Knicks from Dolan, hire a smart basketball person and let things take off from there.

1) Its kind of funny that there may not be an NBA or NHL champion crowned this year, when both defending champs, the Toronto Raptors/St Louis Blues, won their first-ever titles last year, so they could both get to be defending champs for an extra year. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.