NBA Stats: Best playoff winning percentage to not win a championship

It appears the Cleveland Cavs and Golden State Warriors are on a collision course to face each other for the third consecutive year in the NBA Finals. Through games of Friday, May 19, both teams hold a 2-0 lead in their respective conference finals, and both teams are undefeated (10-0) in the playoffs this year.

If both teams should sweep their conference finals and go 12-0 before the beginning of the 2017 finals, we could see a couple of records shattered in the process:

  • The 2001 L.A. Lakers have the best playoff winning percentage in a season, .938. The Lakers that year went 15-1 on their way to the championship. Second on the list are the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers who went 12-1 in the playoffs that year, a .923 winning percentage. They are the only teams to have a winning percentage over .900 in an NBA playoff season. If the Cavs or Warriors should end the 2017 playoffs at 16-1, that would be a winning percentage of .941 for the playoffs, a new record.
  • Four teams previously entered the NBA Finals undefeated (minimum of seven wins to qualify). The aforementioned 2001 Lakers were 11-0 before the start of the 2001 Finals. The 1982 Lakers were 8-0 prior to the ’82 Finals. Another Lakers team, this time the 1952 Minneapolis Lakers, went 7-0 in the first two rounds before the ’52 Finals; and, the 1989 Lakers entered their finals series that year against the Detroit Pistons 11-0. The ’89 Lakers, however, were swept by the Pistons that year.

The ’89 Lakers and the 2005 Miami Heat have the highest winning percentage in the playoffs without winning a title that year. The 1989 Lakers finished the playoffs that year 11-4, a .733 winning percentage. The 2005 Heat were also 11-4 in the ’05 playoffs.

Here’s a look at the eight teams that had a winning percentage of .700 in a playoff season yet did not win the title that year.

1989 L.A. Lakers, 11-4, .733: Went undefeated in the first three games (going 11-0) before they were swept by the Detroit Pistons in the finals.

2005 Miami Heat, 11-4, .733: Beat the Nets and Wizards 4-0 in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but then lost 4-3 to the Detroit in the conference finals.

2009 Cleveland Cavs, 10-4, .714: Won their first two rounds of the playoffs that year by sweeping Detroit and Atlanta, but lost 4-2 to Orlando in the conference finals.

2010 Orland Magic, 10-4, .714: A pair of 4-0 sweeps over Atlanta and Charlotte preceded a 4-2 loss to Boston in the conference finals.

2010 San Antonio Spurs, 10-4, .714: Swept both Utah and the L.A. Clippers 4-0 and then lost to Oklahoma City 4-2 in the conference title series.

2013 San Antonio Spurs, 15-6, .714: Went 12-2 in the first three rounds of the playoffs before facing off with Miami in the finals. They lost to the Heat in seven games in the finals.

2003 New Jersey Nets, 14-6, .700: Lost to the Spurs 4-2 in the NBA Finals that year after going 12-2 in the first three rounds of the playoffs.

2015 Cleveland Cavs, 14-6, .700: They went 12-2 in the first three rounds of the playoffs before losing in six games to the Warriors in the finals.

The .733 winning percentage by the 1989 Lakers and 2005 Heat (highest winning percentage in the playoffs of a team that did not win the championship) could be broken if the Cavs and Warriors reach the finals. We’ll keep a watch on those numbers as the playoffs come to a conclusion.

NBA Stats: Scoring 40 points in an NBA playoff game

Steph Curry had 40 points in leading his Golden State Warriors to a Game One come-from-behind victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals on Sunday.

For Curry, it was his fifth career 40-point playoff game which made him the 22nd player since 1964 to have five or more career playoff games with 40 or more points. The Warriors are now 4-1 in these 40-point games by Curry, and it was the first home playoff game where Curry had 40+ points.

It should come as no surprise that Michael Jordan has the most 40-point playoff games since 1964. Jordan has 38; LeBron James is second on the list with 18.

Following are the 22 players who have had five or more 40-point playoff games since 1964.

38: Michel Jordan

18: LeBron James

16: Jerry West

13: Kobe Bryant

12: Shaquille O’Neal

11: Hakeem Olajuwon

10: Allen Iverson

9: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

8: Rick Barry

7: Kevin Durant, Bernard King, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade

6: George Gervin

5: Steph Curry, Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Bob McAdoo, Russell Westbrook, Dominique Wilkins

Did you know:

  • Of the 12 players who scored 40 or more points in this year’s playoffs, their teams are only 4-8 in those games.
  • Curry scored his 40 points last Sunday in 39 minutes. Of the last 100 games (dating back to 2005) where a player scored 40 or more points in a playoff game, only 16 played under 40 minutes in that game.
  • Four of the five 40-point playoff games in Curry’s career saw him take 14 or more three-point shots. In the other game he took nine three-point shots.
  • Jerry West in 1965 had the most 40-point playoff games in one season, eight. Jordan had seven 40-point games in the 1989 playoffs for second on the list.
  • Only two non-starters have scored 40 or more points in a playoff game since 1964. Nick Van Exel did it on May 10, 2003 when he scored 40 coming off the bench for the Dallas Mavs in a playoff contest versus Sacramento. Curry is the only other non-starter on this list… he did it last year in a playoff game where he didn’t start on May 9 against Portland. He tallied 40 points in that game.

10 stats you may not know about… Derek Jeter

On Sunday the New York Yankees will retire Derek Jeter’s uniform number 2. After a call-up in 1995, Jeter the following year became the Yanks’ starting shortstop and held that spot until his retirement in 2014.

  1. Jeter went o-for-5 in his MLB debut, May 29, 1995, in Seattle versus the Mariners.
  2. Jeter played shortstop in 2,675 games for the Yankees, most of any player in club history. Only three other players have played over 1,000 games at short for the Bronx Bombers: Phil Rizzuto (1,647), Franke Crosetti (1,515) and Roger Peckinpaugh (1,214).
  3. Of his 260 career home runs, 189 of them came in games his team won. Seventy-one were hit in losses. Jeter’s career average in games the Yankees’ won was .338; in games lost by the Yankees, his average was .265.
  4. Seventeen players wore the #2 for the Yankees. The last player to wear #2 before Jeter was Mike Gallego (1992-94). Since 1969, the players who wore #2 for the Yankees were Wayne Tolleson (1986-90), Dale Berra (1985-86), Tim Foli (1984), Bobby Murcer (1979-83), Darryl Jones (1979), Paul Blair (1977-79), Sandy Alomar (1975-76), Matty Alou (1973) and Jerry Kenney (1969-72).
  5. Jeter had 1,311 career RBIs, but he only had 100 RBIs in a season once. That happened in 1999 when he had 102.
  6. Derek was the 1996 A.L. Rookie of the Year. Runner-up that year for the award was James Baldwin, a pitcher with the White Sox. Baldwin won 79 games in his 11-year career. The N.L. Rookie of the Year that season was L.A. Dodgers outfielder Todd Hollandsworth; he batted .273 and had 98 HRs in a 12-year big league career.
  7. Jeter hit 26 home runs versus the Red Sox, most against any opponent in his career. His best career batting average came against the Pirates (.422) and the Rockies (.412). His worst career batting average was against the Astros… he hit only .224.
  8. Five different Yankees played shortstop in the five seasons before Jeter was handed the job in 1996. The previous five: Tony Fernandez (1995), Mike Gallego (1994), Spike Owen (1993), Andy Stankiewicz (1992) and Alvaro Espinoza (1991).
  9. Derek hit 255 home runs as a shortstop for the Yankees, the most by far in the team’s history. Frankie Crossetti had the second most with 89, followed by Tony Kubek with 49.
  10. During Jeter’s long run as Yankees shortstop (1996-2014), Eduardo Nunez filled in the most games at shortstop with 152. The other players who played shortstop for the Yankees in 50 or more games during 1996-2014: Enrique Wilson (83), Jayson Nix (66) and Ramiro Pena (62).

Bonus stat: Fifty-one different Yankees played second base during Jeter’s 1996-2014 run as the Yankees shortstop. Leading the way was Robinson Cano with 1,351 games, followed by Alfonso Soriano, 467 games, and Chuck Knoblauch, 381 games.

MLB players with most career at-bats with 0, 1, 2, 3 career home runs

One of my all-time favorite stats involves former Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants second baseman Duane Kuiper. The fact that Kuiper is from my hometown (Racine, WI) and that we attended the same junior college (Indiana Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa) certainly adds an special reason for loving this numbers tidbit.

If you are a well-versed baseball fan, you might know that Kuiper had 3,379 at-bats in a MLB career that ran from 1974-85 and that he had only one career home run, a blast off of Steve Stone. His 3,379 career at-bats are the most of any player in history with only one career home run.

Let’s take this stat and expand the parameters a little. Following are the players with the most career at-bats with no home runs, one HR, two homers, and three home runs. Most of the players on these lists played prior to 1970, and most are pitchers. Also listed are the career years for each player on the list.

Most at-bats with no career home runs
Jack McCarthy, 2233 (1901-07)
Tom Oliver, 1,931 (1930-33)
Irv Hall, 1904 (1943-46)
Roxy Walters, 1,426 (1915-25)
Don Sutton, 1,354 (1966-86)
Active leader: Johnny Cueto, 471

Most at-bats with one career HR
Duane Kuiper, 3,379 (1974-85)
Emil Verban, 2,911 (1944-50)
Johnny Bassler, 2,319 (1913-27)
Floyd Baker, 2,280 (1943-55)
Woody Woodward, 2,187 (1963-71)
Active leader: Cole Hamels, 618

Most at-bats with two career home runs
Al Bridwell, 4,169 (1905-15)
Tommy Thevenow, 4,164 (1924-38)
Frank Taveras, 4,043 (1971-82)
Jimmy Slagle, 3,832 (1901-08)
Johnny Cooney, 3,372 (1921-44)
Active leader: Christian Vazquez, 392

Most at-bats with three career homers
Nemo Leibold, 4,167 (1913-25)
Active leader: Pete Kozma, 632

Six Stats You May Not Know About… NBA Game Sevens in the last 25 years

The Utah Jazz defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of this year’s NBA playoffs in a Game Seven. It was the first Game Seven in this year’s playoffs.

Last season, five of the 15 playoff series went to a Game Seven, including the finals series between the Cavs and Warriors.

Let’s take a look at a few stats you may not know about Game Sevens in the NBA playoffs over the past 25 seasons (from 1993-2017).

  1. The Miami Heat played in the most Game Sevens since 1993 with 10. They are followed by the Rockets with nine, and Boston and Indiana with eight.
  2. Since 1993, the Heat also had the most Game Seven wins with six. Houston and the L.A. Lakers have five Game Seven wins in the last 25 seasons.
  3. The Indiana Pacers have the most Game Seven losses in the last 25 years with five. They are followed by Miami, Houston and Boston with four each.
  4. The best win-loss percentage in Game Sevens over the past 25 years are the Timberwolves 1.000 (1-0), the Lakers .833 (5-1), Dallas and Detroit each 4-1 (.800) and Utah 3-1 (.750).
  5. The worst Game Seven win-loss percentage since 1993 are Sacramento and Memphis .000 (0-3), and Denver, Portland, New Orleans and Charlotte .000 (0-2).
  6. The New York Knicks have the longest drought since they played in a Game Seven. The last Game Seven they played in was 2000. Portland has not played in a Game Seven since 2003, the second longest drought in the league.