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NBA Conference Finals

The National Basketball Association Conference Finals are the Eastern and Western championship series of the National Basketball Association (NBA), a major professional basketball league in North America. The NBA was founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA).[1] The NBA adopted its current name at the start of the 1949–50 season when the BAA merged with the National Basketball League (NBL).[2] The league currently consists of 30 teams, of which 29 are located in the United States and 1 in Canada. Each team plays 82 games in the regular season. After the regular season, eight teams from each of the league's two conferences qualify for the playoffs. At the end of the playoffs, the top two teams play each other in the Conference Finals, to determine the Conference Champions from each side, who then proceed to play in the NBA Finals.

Contents

OverviewEdit

Initially, the BAA teams were aligned into two divisions, the Eastern Division and the Western Division. The Divisional Finals were first played in 1949, the league's third season. The first two seasons used a playoffs format where Eastern and Western Division teams would face each other before the BAA Finals, hence there were no divisional finals. In the 1949–50 season, the league realigned itself to three divisions, with the addition of the Central Division. However, the arrangement was only used for one season and the league went back into two divisions format in 1951. The two divisions format remained until 1970, when the NBA realigned itself into two conferences with two divisions each, which led to the renaming to Conference Finals. The finals was a best-of-3 series from 1949 to 1950 to; a best-of-5 series from 1951–56, and a best-of-7 series since 1957. Currently, the Conference Finals are played in a best-of-7 series like the NBA Playoffs and Finals. The two series are played in late May each year after the first and second rounds of the Playoffs and before the Finals. At the conclusion of the Conference Finals, winners are presented with a silver trophy, caps, and T-shirts, and advance to the NBA Finals.

The Los Angeles Lakers have won the most conference titles with 31, which consists of 30 Western Conference titles and one title in the now-defunct Central Division. They have also made 40 appearances in the Conference Finals, more than any other team. The Boston Celtics have won 21 Eastern Conference titles, the second most of any team. The Celtics also hold the record for consecutive titles; they won 10 consecutive Eastern Division titles from 1957–66. The Golden State Warriors and the Detroit Pistons hold the distinction of being the only teams to have won both East and West titles. Twenty-three of the 30 active franchises have won at least one conference title. The Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies, and Toronto Raptors have each played in at least one Conference Finals (Denver has played in three), but they have each failed to win their respective conference title. Three other franchises, the Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, and New Orleans Pelicans have never appeared in the Conference Finals. Of the 143 conference and divisional champions, 46 were won by the team who had or tied for the best regular season record for that season.

KeyEdit

^ NBA champion, winner of the NBA Finals
Team with the best regular season record, or tie for best

Eastern Division/ConferenceEdit

NBA history officially begins with three Basketball Association of America (BAA) seasons. In its first two postseason tournaments, BAA Eastern and Western Division champions were matched in a long first-round series while four runners-up played off to determine the other finalist.

Eastern Division FinalsEdit

Line "1949" refers to the last BAA Playoffs. In its inaugural 1949–50 season only, the NBA used a three-division arrangement. Syracuse won the Eastern Division championship in the first two rounds of the 1950 NBA Playoffs and advanced to the Finals as the one of three division champions with the best regular season record.[3]

Year Champion Coach Result Runner-up Coach
1949 Washington Capitols Red Auerbach 2–1 New York Knicks Joe Lapchick
1950 Syracuse Nationals Al Cervi 2–1 New York Knicks Joe Lapchick
1951 New York Knicks Joe Lapchick 3–2 Syracuse Nationals Al Cervi
1952 New York Knicks Joe Lapchick 3–1 Syracuse Nationals Al Cervi
1953 New York Knicks Joe Lapchick 3–1 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach
1954 Syracuse Nationals Al Cervi 2–0 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach
1955 Syracuse Nationals Al Cervi 3–1 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach
1956 Philadelphia Warriors George Senesky 3–2 Syracuse Nationals Al Cervi
1957 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach 3–0 Syracuse Nationals Paul Seymour
1958 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach 4–1 Philadelphia Warriors George Senesky
1959 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach 4–3 Syracuse Nationals Paul Seymour
1960 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach 4–2 Philadelphia Warriors Frank McGuire
1961 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach 4–1 Syracuse Nationals Alex Hannum
1962 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach 4–3 Philadelphia Warriors Frank McGuire
1963 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach 4–3 Cincinnati Royals Charles Wolf
1964 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach 4–1 Cincinnati Royals Jack McMahon
1965 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach 4–3 Philadelphia 76ers Dolph Schayes
1966 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach 4–1 Philadelphia 76ers Dolph Schayes
1967 Philadelphia 76ers Alex Hannum 4–1 Boston Celtics Bill Russell
1968 Boston Celtics Bill Russell 4–3 Philadelphia 76ers Alex Hannum
1969 Boston Celtics Bill Russell 4–2 New York Knicks Red Holzman
1970 New York Knicks Red Holzman 4–1 Milwaukee Bucks Larry Costello

Eastern Conference FinalsEdit

Year Champion Coach Result Runner-up Coach
1971 Baltimore Bullets Gene Shue 4–3 New York Knicks Red Holzman
1972 New York Knicks Red Holzman 4–1 Boston Celtics Tom Heinsohn
1973 New York Knicks Red Holzman 4–3 Boston Celtics Tom Heinsohn
1974 Boston Celtics Tom Heinsohn 4–1 New York Knicks Red Holzman
1975 Washington Bullets K. C. Jones 4–2 Boston Celtics Tom Heinsohn
1976 Boston Celtics Tom Heinsohn 4–2 Cleveland Cavaliers Bill Fitch
1977 Philadelphia 76ers Gene Shue 4–2 Houston Rockets Tom Nissalke
1978 Washington Bullets Dick Motta 4–2 Philadelphia 76ers Billy Cunningham
1979 Washington Bullets Dick Motta 4–3 San Antonio Spurs Doug Moe
1980 Philadelphia 76ers Billy Cunningham 4–1 Boston Celtics Bill Fitch
1981 Boston Celtics Bill Fitch 4–3 Philadelphia 76ers Billy Cunningham
1982 Philadelphia 76ers Billy Cunningham 4–3 Boston Celtics Bill Fitch
1983 Philadelphia 76ers Billy Cunningham 4–1 Milwaukee Bucks Don Nelson
1984 Boston Celtics K. C. Jones 4–1 Milwaukee Bucks Don Nelson
1985 Boston Celtics K. C. Jones 4–1 Philadelphia 76ers Billy Cunningham
1986 Boston Celtics K. C. Jones 4–0 Milwaukee Bucks Don Nelson
1987 Boston Celtics K. C. Jones 4–3 Detroit Pistons Chuck Daly
1988 Detroit Pistons Chuck Daly 4–2 Boston Celtics K. C. Jones
1989 Detroit Pistons Chuck Daly 4–2 Chicago Bulls Doug Collins
1990 Detroit Pistons Chuck Daly 4–3 Chicago Bulls Phil Jackson
1991 Chicago Bulls Phil Jackson 4–0 Detroit Pistons Chuck Daly
1992 Chicago Bulls Phil Jackson 4–2 Cleveland Cavaliers Lenny Wilkens
1993 Chicago Bulls Phil Jackson 4–2 New York Knicks Pat Riley
1994 New York Knicks Pat Riley 4–3 Indiana Pacers Larry Brown
1995 Orlando Magic Brian Hill 4–3 Indiana Pacers Larry Brown
1996 Chicago Bulls Phil Jackson 4–0 Orlando Magic Brian Hill
1997 Chicago Bulls Phil Jackson 4–1 Miami Heat Pat Riley
1998 Chicago Bulls Phil Jackson 4–3 Indiana Pacers Larry Bird
1999 New York Knicks Jeff Van Gundy 4–2 Indiana Pacers Larry Bird
2000 Indiana Pacers Larry Bird 4–2 New York Knicks Jeff Van Gundy
2001 Philadelphia 76ers Larry Brown 4–3 Milwaukee Bucks George Karl
2002 New Jersey Nets Byron Scott 4–2 Boston Celtics Jim O'Brien
2003 New Jersey Nets Byron Scott 4–0 Detroit Pistons Rick Carlisle
2004 Detroit Pistons Larry Brown 4–2 Indiana Pacers Rick Carlisle
2005 Detroit Pistons Larry Brown 4–3 Miami Heat Stan Van Gundy
2006 Miami Heat Pat Riley 4–2 Detroit Pistons Flip Saunders
2007 Cleveland Cavaliers Mike Brown 4–2 Detroit Pistons Flip Saunders
2008 Boston Celtics Doc Rivers 4–2 Detroit Pistons Flip Saunders
2009 Orlando Magic Stan Van Gundy 4–2 Cleveland Cavaliers Mike Brown
2010 Boston Celtics Doc Rivers 4–2 Orlando Magic Stan Van Gundy
2011 Miami Heat Erik Spoelstra 4–1 Chicago Bulls Tom Thibodeau
2012 Miami Heat Erik Spoelstra 4–3 Boston Celtics Doc Rivers
2013 Miami Heat Erik Spoelstra 4–3 Indiana Pacers Frank Vogel
2014 Miami Heat Erik Spoelstra 4–2 Indiana Pacers Frank Vogel
2015 Cleveland Cavaliers David Blatt 4–0 Atlanta Hawks Mike Budenholzer
2016 Cleveland Cavaliers Tyronn Lue 4–2 Toronto Raptors Dwane Casey
2017 Cleveland Cavaliers Tyronn Lue 4–1 Boston Celtics Brad Stevens
2018 Cleveland Cavaliers Tyronn Lue 4–3 Boston Celtics Brad Stevens

Western Division/ConferenceEdit

NBA history officially begins with three Basketball Association of America (BAA) seasons. In its first two postseason tournaments, BAA Eastern and Western Division champions were matched in a long first-round series while four runners-up played off to determine the other finalist.

Western Division FinalsEdit

Line "1949" refers to the last BAA Playoffs. In its inaugural 1949–50 season only, the NBA used a three-division arrangement. Anderson won the Western Division championship in the first two rounds of the 1950 NBA Playoffs but did not thereby advance to the Finals as every other Western playoff champion has done, and it was defeated by the Central champion in their semifinal series.[3]

Year Champion Coach Result Runner-up Coach
1949 Minneapolis Lakers John Kundla 2–0 Rochester Royals Les Harrison
1950 Anderson Packers[a] Doxie Moore 2–1 Indianapolis Olympians Cliff Barker
1951 Rochester Royals Les Harrison 3–1 Minneapolis Lakers John Kundla
1952 Minneapolis Lakers John Kundla 3–1 Rochester Royals Les Harrison
1953 Minneapolis Lakers John Kundla 3–2 Fort Wayne Pistons Cliff Barker
1954 Minneapolis Lakers John Kundla 2–1 Rochester Royals Les Harrison
1955 Fort Wayne Pistons Charles Eckman 3–1 Minneapolis Lakers John Kundla
1956 Fort Wayne Pistons Charles Eckman 3–2 St. Louis Hawks Red Holzman
1957 St. Louis Hawks Alex Hannum 3–0 Minneapolis Lakers John Kundla
1958 St. Louis Hawks Alex Hannum 4–1 Detroit Pistons Red Rocha
1959 Minneapolis Lakers John Kundla 4–2 St. Louis Hawks Ed Macauley
1960 St. Louis Hawks Ed Macauley 4–3 Minneapolis Lakers Jim Pollard
1961 St. Louis Hawks Paul Seymour 4–3 Los Angeles Lakers Fred Schaus
1962 Los Angeles Lakers Fred Schaus 4–2 Detroit Pistons Dick McGuire
1963 Los Angeles Lakers Fred Schaus 4–3 St. Louis Hawks Harry Gallatin
1964 San Francisco Warriors Alex Hannum 4–3 St. Louis Hawks Dick McGuire
1965 Los Angeles Lakers Fred Schaus 4–2 Baltimore Bullets Buddy Jeannette
1966 Los Angeles Lakers Fred Schaus 4–3 St. Louis Hawks Richie Guerin
1967 San Francisco Warriors Bill Sharman 4–2 St. Louis Hawks Richie Guerin
1968 Los Angeles Lakers Butch Van Breda Kolff 4–0 San Francisco Warriors Bill Sharman
1969 Los Angeles Lakers Butch Van Breda Kolff 4–1 Atlanta Hawks Richie Guerin
1970 Los Angeles Lakers Joe Mullaney 4–0 Atlanta Hawks Richie Guerin

Western Conference FinalsEdit

Year Champion Coach Result Runner-up Coach
1971 Milwaukee Bucks Larry Costello 4–1 Los Angeles Lakers Joe Mullaney
1972 Los Angeles Lakers Bill Sharman 4–2 Milwaukee Bucks Larry Costello
1973 Los Angeles Lakers Bill Sharman 4–1 Golden State Warriors Al Attles
1974 Milwaukee Bucks Larry Costello 4–0 Chicago Bulls Dick Motta
1975 Golden State Warriors Al Attles 4–3 Chicago Bulls Dick Motta
1976 Phoenix Suns John MacLeod 4–3 Golden State Warriors Al Attles
1977 Portland Trail Blazers Jack Ramsay 4–0 Los Angeles Lakers Jerry West
1978 Seattle SuperSonics Lenny Wilkens 4–2 Denver Nuggets Larry Brown
1979 Seattle SuperSonics Lenny Wilkens 4–3 Phoenix Suns John MacLeod
1980 Los Angeles Lakers Paul Westhead 4–1 Seattle SuperSonics Lenny Wilkens
1981 Houston Rockets Del Harris 4–1 Kansas City Kings Cotton Fitzsimmons
1982 Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley 4–0 San Antonio Spurs Stan Albeck
1983 Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley 4–2 San Antonio Spurs Stan Albeck
1984 Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley 4–2 Phoenix Suns John MacLeod
1985 Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley 4–1 Denver Nuggets Doug Moe
1986 Houston Rockets Bill Fitch 4–1 Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley
1987 Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley 4–0 Seattle SuperSonics Bernie Bickerstaff
1988 Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley 4–3 Dallas Mavericks John MacLeod
1989 Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley 4–0 Phoenix Suns Cotton Fitzsimmons
1990 Portland Trail Blazers Rick Adelman 4–2 Phoenix Suns Cotton Fitzsimmons
1991 Los Angeles Lakers Mike Dunleavy 4–2 Portland Trail Blazers Rick Adelman
1992 Portland Trail Blazers Rick Adelman 4–2 Utah Jazz Jerry Sloan
1993 Phoenix Suns Paul Westphal 4–3 Seattle SuperSonics George Karl
1994 Houston Rockets Rudy Tomjanovich 4–1 Utah Jazz Jerry Sloan
1995 Houston Rockets Rudy Tomjanovich 4–2 San Antonio Spurs Bob Hill
1996 Seattle SuperSonics George Karl 4–3 Utah Jazz Jerry Sloan
1997 Utah Jazz Jerry Sloan 4–2 Houston Rockets Rudy Tomjanovich
1998 Utah Jazz Jerry Sloan 4–0 Los Angeles Lakers Del Harris
1999 San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich 4–0 Portland Trail Blazers Mike Dunleavy
2000 Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson 4–3 Portland Trail Blazers Mike Dunleavy
2001 Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson 4–0 San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich
2002 Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson 4–3 Sacramento Kings Rick Adelman
2003 San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich 4–2 Dallas Mavericks Don Nelson
2004 Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson 4–2 Minnesota Timberwolves Flip Saunders
2005 San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich 4–1 Phoenix Suns Mike D'Antoni
2006 Dallas Mavericks Avery Johnson 4–2 Phoenix Suns Mike D'Antoni
2007 San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich 4–1 Utah Jazz Jerry Sloan
2008 Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson 4–1 San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich
2009 Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson 4–2 Denver Nuggets George Karl
2010 Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson 4–2 Phoenix Suns Alvin Gentry
2011 Dallas Mavericks Rick Carlisle 4–1 Oklahoma City Thunder Scott Brooks
2012 Oklahoma City Thunder Scott Brooks 4–2 San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich
2013 San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich 4–0 Memphis Grizzlies Lionel Hollins
2014 San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich 4–2 Oklahoma City Thunder Scott Brooks
2015 Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr 4–1 Houston Rockets Kevin McHale
2016 Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr 4–3 Oklahoma City Thunder Billy Donovan
2017 Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr 4–0 San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich
2018 Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr 4–3 Houston Rockets Mike D'Antoni

Central DivisionEdit

Before the 1949–50 season, the BAA merged with the NBL and became the NBA. The number of teams competed increased to 17 and the league realigned itself to three divisions, creating the Central Division. In that season, 4 teams with the best win–loss records from each division advanced to the divisional playoffs. Then, the winner of the Western and Central Division Finals met in the NBA Semifinals in order to determine who would face the Eastern Division champion Syracuse Nationals in the NBA Finals. The Minneapolis Lakers defeated the Western Division champion Anderson Packers in the best-of-3 series 2–0 to advance to the Finals. The Lakers eventually won the Finals against the Nationals. It disbanded before the 1950–51 season, after 6 teams folded and the league realigned itself back into two divisions. It returned in 1970 as one of the divisions in the newly formed Eastern Conference.[4]

Division FinalsEdit

Year Champion Coach Result Runner-up Coach
1950 Minneapolis Lakers John Kundla 2–0 Fort Wayne Pistons Murray Mendenhall

Results by teamEdit

Stats updated through May 28, 2018

Total number of appearances
Team East West Total East West Total Total
appearances
Champions Runner-up
Minneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers 0 30 31[a] 0 9 9 40
Boston Celtics 21 0 21 14 0 14 35
Syracuse Nationals / Philadelphia 76ers 9 0 9 12 0 12 21
Fort Wayne / Detroit Pistons 5 2 7 6 3 10[a] 17
New York Knicks 8 0 8 7 0 7 15
Philadelphia / San Francisco / Golden State Warriors 1 7 8 3 3 6 14
San Antonio Spurs 0 6 6 1 7 8 14
St. Louis / Atlanta Hawks 0 4 4 1 8 9 13
Chicago Bulls 6 0 6 3 2 5 11
Seattle SuperSonics / Oklahoma City Thunder 0 4 4 0 6 6 10
Phoenix Suns 0 2 2 0 7 7 9
Cleveland Cavaliers 5 0 5 3 0 3 8
Houston Rockets 0 4 4 1 3 4 8
Milwaukee Bucks 0 2 2 5 1 6 8
Indiana Pacers 1 0 1 7 0 7 8
Rochester / Cincinnati Royals /
Kansas City / Sacramento Kings
0 1 1 2 5 7 8
Miami Heat 5 0 5 2 0 2 7
Portland Trail Blazers 0 3 3 0 3 3 6
Utah Jazz 0 2 2 0 4 4 6
Baltimore Bullets / Washington Wizards 4 0 4 0 1 1 5
Dallas Mavericks 0 2 2 0 2 2 4
Orlando Magic 2 0 2 2 0 2 4
Denver Nuggets 0 0 0 0 3 3 3
New Jersey / Brooklyn 2 0 2 0 0 0 2
Anderson Packers[b] (folded in 1950) 0 1 1 0 0 0 1
Washington Capitols (folded in 1951) 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Indianapolis Olympians (folded in 1953) 0 0 0 0 1 1 1
Memphis Grizzlies 0 0 0 0 1 1 1
Minnesota Timberwolves 0 0 0 0 1 1 1
Toronto Raptors 0 0 0 1 0 1 1
Charlotte Hornets 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Los Angeles Clippers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Orleans Pelicans 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consecutive appearances

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Goldaper, Sam. "The First Game". NBA History: NBA Encyclopedia Playoff Edition. NBA Media Ventures (NBA.com). Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  2. ^ "1949–50 Season Overview: Powerful Lakers Repeat". NBA History: NBA Encyclopedia Playoff Edition. NBA Media Ventures (NBA.com). Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "1949–50 NBA Season Summary". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
      Select "Previous Season" from the heading for 1948–49, and so on. Select "Finals" from League Playoffs for the daily schedule of the final series, and so on.
  4. ^ a b "1949–50 NBA Season Summary". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  5. ^ "Anderson Packers Franchise Index". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  6. ^ "Washington Wizards Franchise Index". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved November 24, 2010.

External linksEdit