Getting eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs

As the 2016-17 NBA season winds down, teams are starting to jockey for playoff spots. Those bound for the playoffs are trying to improve their position, while those sitting on the outside of the playoff picture at this time of the season are looking to make a final run to secure a post-season spot.

Is making the NBA playoffs important for teams? My guess is that most fans and team personnel would answer with a resounding, “Yes!”

But what if your team made the playoffs and was immediately eliminated in the first round? Does that matter? Would it have been better to not even make the playoffs if your team was going to get eliminated right away?

Maybe not real easy questions to answer. But let’s take a look at the first-round elimination in the NBA, especially since 2000. Specifically, let’s look at how often each team has been eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs since 2000.

The Denver Nuggets have made the playoffs 10 times since 2000. But they have been eliminated in the first round in nine of those seasons, most of any team this century. The only year they got past the first round was in 2009 when they made it to the Western Conference Finals. That nine out of ten times (90%) is the highest percentage of any team eliminated in the first round since 2000. The Milwaukee Bucks have made the playoffs eight times since 2000, but they have been eliminated in the first round in seven of those eight seasons, a 87.5% rate, second highest in the league.

Here’s a look at the number of times each team has been eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs since 2000. (The number listed in parenthesis is the number of season they made the playoffs since 2000.)

9: Denver (10)
8: Dallas (15)
7: Houston (9), Milwaukee (8), Portland (10)
6: Chicago (10), Indiana (12), Memphis (9), Orlando (9), Toronto (8)
5: Boston (12), New Orleans (6), Philadelphia (9), Utah (9)
4: Atlanta (9), Charlotte (6), Miami (13), Minnesota (5), New York Knicks (6), San Antonio (17)
3: Brooklyn (9), Detroit (10), L.A. Lakers (13), Oklahoma City (9), Phoenix (8), Sacramento (7), Washington (6)
2: L.A. Clippers (6)
1: Golden State (5)
0: Cleveland (7)

As you probably noticed from the numbers above, the San Antonio Spurs are the only team to make the playoffs every year this century followed by Dallas with 15 of the 17 seasons. At the other end are the Minnesota Timberwolves, and surprisingly, the Golden State Warriors, who have been in the NBA upper echelon over the past few seasons.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

 

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