Is This the Year of the NBA Cinderella’s

Is This the Year of the NBA Cinderella’s

Of the top 5 teams in the year end power rankings (other than defending champion San Antonio),

  • only 1 has been to the Conference Finals in the last 30 years;
  • only two of the teams have even reached the NBA Finals (in their current city); and
  • only one has won a NBA Title (in their current city).

This could be the year some historic droughts finally end for their long-suffering fans.

qhhir6fj8zp30f33s7sfb4yw01. Golden State Warriors (67-15)

Last Division Title (before 2015): 1975
Last Conference Finals Appearance: 1975
Last NBA Finals Appearance: 1975
Last Championship: 1975

The Warriors have won their first division title since 1975, which was also the last time they played in the conference finals, the NBA finals or won a title.

With a league best 67-15 record, only 9 other teams have won as much before – 8 of them went to the conference finals and 7 won the championship.  The only team to fail to reach at least the conference finals was the 2007 Dallas Mavericks, who as the defending conference champion and top seed in the Western Conference lost to Golden State.

The 1975 Warriors were such a surprise that even their landlord (Oakland Coliseum Arena) did not expect them to reach the finals, forcing them to play in Cow Palace in Daley City.  The heavily favored Washington Bullets were expected to sweep the Warriors, but instead were swept by Golden State in one of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history. It remains the Warriors only title since moving from Philadelphia.

5mdhgjh3aa92kih09pgi3. Atlanta Hawks (60-22)

Last Division Title (before 2015): 1996
Last Conference Finals Appearance: 1970
Last NBA Finals Appearance: 1962 (St Louis)
Last Championship: 1958 (St Louis)

The Hawks have had their best season ever and won only their fifth division title since moving from St. Louis after the 1968 season. The Hawks made the Conference Finals in their first two years in Atlanta (1969, 1970) and have not been there since. The year of their last appearance was also the rookie year of the legendary Pistol Pete Maravich.

Of course, the Hawks most memorable playoff moment since moving to Atlanta, was duel between the Hawks’ Dominique Wilson and the Celtics’ Larry Bird in Game 7 of the 1988 Conference Semifinals, with Bird and the Celtics advancing.

e4701g88mmn7ehz2baynbs6e04. Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29)

Last Division Title (before 2015): 2010
Last Conference Finals Appearance: 2009
Last NBA Finals Appearance: 2007
Last Championship: None

With LeBron James back, the Cavs have won only their 4th division title in 45 years.  They have been to the Conference Finals four times – twice with LeBron.  They won in 2007 and then were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.

In the 2007 Western Conference Finals, James gave a memorable performance in a classic Game 5 overtime game, scoring 48 points including 29 of the last 30 points against the Pistons.  The Cavs closed the series out in Cleveland in Game 6.

For Cleveland, their most memorable playoff moment may be the moment the Chicago Bulls surpassed them as heir apparent to the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boy” Dynasty with “The Shot” in the 1989 First Round series.

bvv028jd1hhr8ee8ii7a0fg4i5. Los Angeles Clippers (56-26)

Last Division Title (before 2015): 2014
Last Conference Finals Appearance: None
Last NBA Finals Appearance: None
Last Championship: None

Since moving to Los Angeles the Clippers they have had only 7 winning seasons in 31 years – including the last four seasons.  The Clippers have never advanced beyond the second round, although twice they have been on the verge of making the Conference Finals but late game collapses against the Suns in 2006 and the Thunder in 2014 proved costly.

With little to choose from, the best and most memorable Clipper playoff highlight so far has to be their epic comeback against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of their 2012 series.


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