The next round of the 2018 NBA playoffs are set with the Boston Celtics taking on the Cleveland Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals and Golden State Warriors facing the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals.
The home court advantage will likely be a factor in both series. The Celtics will have the advantage in the East, while the Rockets will host four of the potential seven games in the West.
Of the 64 games played so far in the NBA playoffs this season, home teams are 46-18, a .719 winning percentage. In fact, the four teams remaining in the playoffs are 23-2 at home in this post season (a staggering .920 winning percentage) while these same four teams are only 9-9 (.500 winning percentage) as the away team in this year’s playoffs.
Here’s a look at each of the remaining four teams’ records in home and away playoff contests this year:
Boston: 7-0 at home; 1-4 on the road
Cleveland: 5-1 at home; 3-2 on the road
Golden State: 6-0 at home; 2-2 on the road
Houston: 5-1 at home; 3-1 on the road
Let’s take a look back to 2010. The Celtics, Cavs, Warriors and Rockets have been regulars in the post season in the last nine seasons, although the Rockets have not played as many post-season games as the other three since 2010. Following are the home and away records in the post season of the four teams since 2010.
Team, Home record/Away Record
Boston, 35-16 (.686)/17-31 (.354)
Cleveland, 31-9 (.775)/26-15 (.634)
Golden State, 41-8 (.837/23-19 (.548)
Houston, 19-10 (.655)/9-17 (.346)
The Cavs and Golden State are the only two teams of the 30 NBA squads to have a winning percentage over .500 in road playoff games since 2010.
One final stat:
Home teams are 59-30 in conference finals since 2010, a .663 winning percentage.
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The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers each won Game One in their NBA playoff series. Should they continue and win their first-round series (Boston over Milwaukee and Philadelphia over Miami) the Celtics and 76ers would meet in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. What makes that potential matchup noteworthy is that Boston-Philadelphia matchups in the NBA playoffs are the most frequent NBA playoff matchups in NBA history.
Since the league began, the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers franchises have met 20 times in the NBA playoffs, most of any matchup in league history in the post-season. The two teams have played 100 playoff games and the Celtics have won 12 of the 20 series. The two teams, however, have not met in the post-season since 2012.
Here’s a look at the NBA playoff series matchups that have happened 10 or more times in league history.
Number of times franchises have faced each other in NBA playoffs (franchises are listed below by current city)
20: Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers
15: Boston Celtics-New York Knicks
12: Atlanta Hawks-Boston Celtics
12: Boston-Los Angeles Lakers
12: Detroit Pistons-Los Angeles Lakers
12: Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns
12: Los Angeles Lakers-San Antonio Spurs
11: Los Angeles Lakers-Sacramento Kings
11: Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trailblazers
10: Atlanta Hawks-Los Angeles Lakers
10: Golden State Warriors-Philadelphia 76ers
10: New York Knicks-Philadelphia 76ers
10: Phoenix Suns-San Antonio Spurs
Of the current eight first-round playoff series, the Boston-Milwaukee matchup has been the most frequent; these two franchises are playing in the post-season for the sixth time in league history. At the other end, the New Orleans-Portland series is the first time these franchises have ever faced each other in the playoffs.
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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.
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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
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.
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