1996 NBA Playoffs

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The 1996 NBA Playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1995-96 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Chicago Bulls defeating the Western Conference champion Seattle SuperSonics 4 games to 2. Michael Jordan was named NBA Finals MVP for a record fourth time.

By winning their fourth title, the Bulls capped what many consider to be the greatest season in NBA history, as they finished a record 72–10 in the regular season, eclipsing the 1972 Lakers record of 69–13, helped by the addition of another Hall of Famer to the Bulls, Dennis Rodman. It was also redemption for Jordan after his first return to the playoffs in 1995 and the Bulls' disappointing second-round loss to Orlando, a team that would be swept in the NBA Finals. With him leading the way, the Bulls swept the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals, winning the four games by an average of 17 points en route to an unprecedented combined record of 87–13 in regular season and postseason play.

For the SuperSonics, they were only the tenth team in NBA history to win 64 games during the regular season, but their feat went largely unnoticed due to Chicago's record 72 wins. They made their first trip to the NBA Finals since 1979, and vindicated them as well after their stunning first-round loss to the Nuggets in 1994, when they had become the first #1 seed to lose to an eighth-seed.

This was the Kings' first playoff appearance since 1986, but would be Mitch Richmond's only one as a King (he previously appeared twice in the playoffs for the Golden State Warriors in 1989 and 1991). The Kings did not make it back until 1999, which began their seven-year string of playoff appearances. Richmond would be traded to the Wizards in 1998 and would later win his first and only championship with the Lakers in 2002 (he would retire shortly thereafter).

As for the two-time defending NBA champion Houston Rockets, their quest for a 3-peat was thwarted by Seattle. The Sonics swept Houston 4-0 in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Sonics were also the last team to defeat the Rockets in the playoffs before their two-year title run, in the 1993 Western Conference Semifinals (Seattle won 4–3).

After the Los Angeles Lakers' first round loss to Houston, Magic Johnson retired for good after a brief in-season comeback.

Though the Utah Jazz fell in 7 to the SuperSonics in the Western Conference Finals (their third appearance in 5 years), in retrospect it kickstarted their own Finals run, which they ultimately accomplished in 1997 and 1998, but lost both times to the Bulls. As for the Magic, it ended a three-year run of dominance for the team, as Shaquille O'Neal joined the Lakers the following season. The Magic did not have another 50-win season, division title and first round playoff series victory until 2008, followed the season afterward by an Eastern Conference championship and the franchise's second NBA Finals appearance in 2009 to which they lost to the Lakers.

Bracket[edit]

First Round Conference Semifinals Conference Finals NBA Finals
                       
1 Seattle 3
8 Sacramento 1
1 Seattle 4
5 Houston 0
4 L.A. Lakers 1
5 Houston 3
1 Seattle 4
Western Conference
3 Utah 3
3 Utah 3
6 Portland 2
3 Utah 4
2 San Antonio 2
2 San Antonio 3
7 Phoenix 1
W1 Seattle 2
E1 Chicago 4
1 Chicago 3
8 Miami 0
1 Chicago 4
5 New York 1
4 Cleveland 0
5 New York 3
1 Chicago 4
Eastern Conference
2 Orlando 0
3 Indiana 2
6 Atlanta 3
6 Atlanta 1
2 Orlando 4
2 Orlando 3
7 Detroit 0

Playoff qualifying[edit]

Western Conference[edit]

Best record in conference[edit]

The Seattle SuperSonics clinched the best record in the Western Conference, and had home court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.

Clinched a playoff berth[edit]

The following teams clinched a playoff berth in the West:

  1. Seattle SuperSonics (clinched Pacific division)
  2. San Antonio Spurs (clinched Midwest division)
  3. Utah Jazz
  4. Los Angeles Lakers
  5. Houston Rockets 2-time defending NBA Champions
  6. Portland Trail Blazers
  7. Phoenix Suns
  8. Sacramento Kings

Eastern Conference[edit]

Best record in NBA[edit]

The Chicago Bulls clinched the best record in the NBA, and earned home court advantage throughout the entire playoffs.

Clinched a playoff berth[edit]

The following teams clinched a playoff berth in the East:

  1. Chicago Bulls (clinched Central division)
  2. Orlando Magic (clinched Atlantic division)
  3. Indiana Pacers
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers
  5. New York Knicks
  6. Atlanta Hawks
  7. Detroit Pistons
  8. Miami Heat

Notes[edit]

  • For the fourth straight postseason, both #5 seeds beat their #4 seeded opponent in the first round.

Western Conference[edit]

Champion: Seattle SuperSonics

First Round[edit]

(1) Seattle SuperSonics vs. (8) Sacramento Kings[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first meeting between the SuperSonics and Kings.

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(SEA-SAC)

Venue Recap Television
1 April 26 Seattle 97 Sacramento 85 1-0 KeyArena, Seattle, Washington 1 TNT 10:30et
2 April 28 Seattle 81 Sacramento 90 1-1 KeyArena, Seattle, Washington 2 TNT 9:00et
3 April 30 Sacramento 89 Seattle 96 2-1 ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California 3 TNT 10:30et
4 May 2 Sacramento 87 Seattle 101 3-1 ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California 4 TBS 10:30et
Seattle wins series 3–1

(4) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (5) Houston Rockets[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: 1991 Western Conference First Round (Los Angeles won 3-0)

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(LAL-HOU)

Venue Recap Television
1 April 25 Los Angeles 83 Houston 87 0-1 Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California 1 TNT 10:30et
2 April 27 Los Angeles 104 Houston 94 1-1 Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California 2 NBC 3:30et
3 April 30 Houston 104 Los Angeles 98 1-2 The Summit, Houston, Texas 3 TBS 9:00et
4 May 2 Houston 102 Los Angeles 94 1-3 The Summit, Houston, Texas 4 TNT 9:30et
Houston wins series 3–1

Game 4 is Magic Johnson's final NBA game.

(3) Utah Jazz vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: 1992 Western Conference Finals (Portland won 4-2)

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(UTAH-POR)

Venue Recap Television
1 April 25 Utah 110 Portland 102 1-0 Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah 1 TBS 9:30et
2 April 27 Utah 105 Portland 90 2-0 Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah 2 TNT 10:30et
3* April 29 Portland 94 Utah 91 2-1 Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon 3 TNT 10:30et
4 May 1 Portland 98 Utah 90 2-2 Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon 4 TNT 9:30et
5 May 5 Utah 102 Portland 64 3-2 Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah 5 NBC 3:00et
Utah wins series 3–2

*Required overtime

(2) San Antonio Spurs vs. (7) Phoenix Suns[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: 1993 Western Conference Semifinals (Phoenix won 4-2)

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(SAS-PHX)

Venue Recap Television
1 April 26 San Antonio 120 Phoenix 98 1-0 Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas 1 TNT 8:00et
2 April 28 San Antonio 110 Phoenix 105 2-0 Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas 2 NBC 3:00et
3 May 1 Phoenix 94 San Antonio 93 2-1 America West Arena, Phoenix, Arizona 3 TNT 10:30et
4 May 3 Phoenix 98 San Antonio 116 3-1 America West Arena, Phoenix, Arizona 4 TNT 9:00et
San Antonio wins series 3–1

Conference Semifinals[edit]

(1) Seattle SuperSonics vs. (5) Houston Rockets[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: 1993 Western Conference Semifinals (Seattle won 4-3)

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(SEA-HOU)

Venue Recap Television
1 May 4 Seattle 108 Houston 75 1-0 KeyArena, Seattle, Washington 1 NBC 3:30et
2 May 6 Seattle 105 Houston 101 2-0 KeyArena, Seattle, Washington 2 TNT 9:00et
3 May 10 Houston 112 Seattle 115 3-0 The Summit, Houston, Texas 3 TNT 9:30et
4* May 12 Houston 107 Seattle 114 4-0 The Summit, Houston, Texas 4 NBC 3:00et
Seattle wins series 4–0

*Required overtime

(2) San Antonio Spurs vs. (3) Utah Jazz[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: 1994 Western Conference First Round (Utah won 3-1)

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(SAS-UTAH)

Venue Recap Television
1 May 7 San Antonio 75 Utah 95 0-1 Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas 1 TNT 7:00et
2 May 9 San Antonio 88 Utah 77 1-1 Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas 2 TNT 8:00et
3 May 11 Utah 105 San Antonio 75 1-2 Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah 3 NBC 3:30et
4 May 12 Utah 101 San Antonio 86 1-3 Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah 4 TNT 8:30et
5 May 14 San Antonio 98 Utah 87 2-3 Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas 5 TBS 9:00et
6 May 16 Utah 108 San Antonio 81 2-4 Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah 6 TNT 9:00et
Utah wins series 4–2

Conference Finals[edit]

(1) Seattle SuperSonics vs. (3) Utah Jazz[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: 1993 Western Conference First Round (Seattle won 3-2)

The SuperSonics led the series 3-1 after an 88–86 victory at the Delta Center in Game 4. However, the Jazz shocked the Sonics in Seattle in Game 5 98-95 and would handily win Game 6 118-83, Seattle's worst playoff loss in team history. Game 7 was a close affair and the Sonics pulled away late to win 90-86 and advance to their first NBA Finals since 1979.

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(SEA-UTAH)

Venue Recap Television
1 May 18 Seattle 102 Utah 72 1-0 KeyArena, Seattle, Washington 1 NBC 3:30et
2 May 20 Seattle 91 Utah 87 2-0 KeyArena, Seattle, Washington 2 TNT 9:00et
3 May 24 Utah 96 Seattle 76 2-1 Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah 3 NBC 9:00et
4 May 26 Utah 86 Seattle 88 3-1 Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah 4 NBC 3:30et
5* May 28 Seattle 95 Utah 98 3-2 KeyArena, Seattle, Washington 5 NBC 9:00et
6 May 30 Utah 118 Seattle 83 3-3 Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah 6 NBC 9:00et
7 June 2 Seattle 90 Utah 86 4-3 KeyArena, Seattle, Washington 7 NBC 7:30et
Seattle wins series 4–3

*Required overtime

Eastern Conference[edit]

Champion: Chicago Bulls

First Round[edit]

(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (8) Miami Heat[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: 1992 Eastern Conference First Round (Chicago won 3-0)

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(CHI-MIA)

Venue Recap Television
1 April 26 Chicago 102 Miami 85 1-0 United Center, Chicago, Illinois 1 TBS 9:30et
2 April 28 Chicago 106 Miami 75 2-0 United Center, Chicago, Illinois 2 NBC 5:30et
3 May 1 Miami 91 Chicago 112 3-0 Miami Arena, Miami, Florida 3 TNT 8:00et
Chicago wins series 3–0

(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) New York Knicks[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: 1995 Eastern Conference First Round (New York won 3-1)

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(CLE-NYK)

Venue Recap Television
1 April 25 Cleveland 83 New York 106 0-1 Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio 1 TBS 7:00et
2 April 27 Cleveland 80 New York 84 0-2 Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio 2 NBC 1:00et
3 May 1 New York 81 Cleveland 76 0-3 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York 3 TBS 7:00et
New York wins series 3–0

(3) Indiana Pacers vs. (6) Atlanta Hawks[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: 1995 Eastern Conference First Round (Indiana won 3-0)

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(IND-ATL)

Venue Recap Television
1 April 25 Indiana 80 Atlanta 92 0-1 Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana 1 TNT 8:00et
2* April 27 Indiana 102 Atlanta 94 1-1 Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana 2 TNT 8:00et
3 April 29 Atlanta 90 Indiana 83 1-2 Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia 3 TNT 8:00et
4 May 2 Atlanta 75 Indiana 83 2-2 Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia 4 TNT 7:00et
5 May 5 Indiana 87 Atlanta 89 2-3 Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana 5 NBC 12:30et
Atlanta wins series 3–2

*Required overtime

(2) Orlando Magic vs. (7) Detroit Pistons[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first meeting between the Magic and Pistons.

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(ORL-DET)

Venue Recap Television
1 April 26 Orlando 112 Detroit 92 1-0 Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida 1 TBS 7:00et
2 April 28 Orlando 92 Detroit 77 2-0 Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida 2 NBC 12:30et
3 April 30 Detroit 98 Orlando 101 3-0 The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan 3 TNT 8:00et
Orlando wins series 3–0

Conference Semifinals[edit]

(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (5) New York Knicks[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals (New York won 4-3)

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(CHI-NYK)

Venue Recap Television
1 May 5 Chicago 91 New York 84 1-0 United Center, Chicago, Illinois 1 NBC 5:30et
2 May 7 Chicago 91 New York 80 2-0 United Center, Chicago, Illinois 2 TNT 9:30et
3* May 11 New York 102 Chicago 99 2-1 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York 3 NBC 1:00et
4 May 12 New York 91 Chicago 94 3-1 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York 4 NBC 5:30et
5 May 14 Chicago 94 New York 81 4-1 United Center, Chicago, Illinois 5 TNT 8:00et
Chicago wins series 4–1

*Required overtime

  • In Game 4, Bill Wennington hits the game-winner with 36.9 seconds left.

(2) Orlando Magic vs. (6) Atlanta Hawks[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first meeting between the Magic and Hawks.

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(ORL-ATL)

Venue Recap Television
1 May 8 Orlando 117 Atlanta 95 1-0 Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida 1 TNT 8:00et
2 May 10 Orlando 120 Atlanta 94 2-0 Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida 2 TNT 7:00et
3 May 12 Atlanta 96 Orlando 102 3-0 Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia 3 NBC 12:30et
4 May 13 Atlanta 104 Orlando 99 3-1 Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia 4 TNT 8:00et
5 May 15 Orlando 96 Atlanta 88 4-1 Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida 5 TNT 8:00et
Orlando wins series 4–1

Conference Finals[edit]

(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (2) Orlando Magic[edit]

Last Playoff Meeting: 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Orlando won 4-2)

Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(CHI-ORL)

Venue Recap Television
1 May 19 Chicago 121 Orlando 83 1-0 United Center, Chicago, Illinois 1 NBC 3:30et
2 May 21 Chicago 93 Orlando 88 2-0 United Center, Chicago, Illinois 2 TNT 8:30et
3 May 25 Orlando 67 Chicago 86 3-0 Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida 3 NBC 3:30et
4 May 27 Orlando 101 Chicago 106 4-0 Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida 4 NBC 3:30et
Chicago wins series 4-0

NBA Finals[edit]

Main article: 1996 NBA Finals

Chicago Bulls vs. Seattle SuperSonics[edit]

  • Seattle battled to a Game 6 after trailing 3-0 in the series, only the second team in NBA Finals history to do so (1951 New York Knicks forced a Game 7).
Game Date Home Score Visitor Score Record

(CHI-SEA)

Venue Recap Television
1 June 5 Chicago 107 Seattle 90 1-0 United Center, Chicago, Illinois 1 NBC 9:00et
2 June 7 Chicago 92 Seattle 88 2-0 United Center, Chicago, Illinois 2 NBC 9:00et
3 June 9 Seattle 86 Chicago 108 3-0 KeyArena, Seattle, Washington 3 NBC 7:30et
4 June 12 Seattle 107 Chicago 86 3-1 KeyArena, Seattle, Washington 4 NBC 9:00et
5 June 14 Seattle 89 Chicago 78 3-2 KeyArena, Seattle, Washington 5 NBC 9:00et
6 June 16 Chicago 87 Seattle 75 4-2 United Center, Chicago, Illinois 6 NBC 7:30et
Chicago wins NBA Finals series 4–2

External links[edit]