2012 NBA Playoffs: Postseason wins and losses on the way to a title

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Wizards v/s Spurs 02/12/11

San Antonio’s Tim Duncan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the current NBA playoff format, teams must win four seven-game series to take the title, winning a total of 16 games. Since this format was instituted beginning with the 2003 playoffs, only two of the nine teams that won the title since lost five or fewer playoff games in their title season. Following are the playoff records of the last nine NBA champs.

Playoff record, Team, season

16-4 San Antonio, 2007

16-5 Dallas, 2011

16-7 L.A. Lakers, 2010

16-7 L.A. Lakers, 2009

16-7 Miami, 2006

16-7 San Antonio, 2005

16-7 Detroit, 2004

16-8 San Antonio, 2003

16-10 Boston, 2008

Boston’s 10 playoff losses in their 2008 championship run is the most of any team to win a title. The Celtics that season went to a Game Seven in their first-round series win over Atlanta and went to seven games in their second-round win over Cleveland. In both series, the home team won all seven games. They then lost two games in the conference finals and lost two games to the Lakers in the finals.

Following are the NBA champs who lost the most playoff games on their way to an NBA title.

Most postseason losses to win NBA Championship

10: Boston (2008)

9: L.A. Lakers (1988)

8: San Antonio (2003), L.A. Lakers (2000), Houston (1994), Boston (1984)

7: L.A. Lakers (2010), L.A. Lakers (2009), Miami (2006), San Antonio (2005), Detroit (2004), Houston (1995), Chicago (1992), Washington (1978), N.Y. Knicks (1970), Boston (1968)

In NBA history, 17 different teams have won 80 percent or more of their playoff games in a postseason. The 2001 Los Angeles Lakers compiled the best playoff record in league history as they won 15 and lost only one (a .938 winning percentage) that season. The 1983 Philadelphia 76ers are the only other team to have lost only one game in the playoffs on their way to a title. Following are the best postseason winning percentages in NBA history.

Best postseason winning percentage to win NBA Championship

1. L.A. Lakers, 2001….. 15-1 .938

2. Philadelphia 76ers, 1983….. 12-1 .923

3. San Antonio, 1999….. 15-2 .882; Chicago, 1991….. 15-2 .882; Detroit, 1989….. 15-2 .882

6. L.A. Lakers, 1982….. 12-2 .857; Milwaukee, 1971….. 12-2 .857

8. Chicago, 1996….. 15-3 .833; L.A. Lakers, 1987….. 15-3 .833; Boston, 1986….. 15-3 .833; Minneapolis Lakers, 1950….. 10-2 .833

12. San Antonio, 2007….. 16-4 .800; L.A.Lakers, 1972….. 12-3 .800; Boston, 1964….. 8-2 .800; Boston, 1961….. 8-2 .800; Minneapolis Lakers, 1949….. 8-2 .800; Philadelphia, 1947….. 8-2 .800

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