NBA Conference Finals

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Western and Eastern Conference Finals logos used in 2008.

The National Basketball Association Conference Finals are the Eastern and Western Conference Championship series of the National Basketball Association, a major professional basketball league in North America. The NBA was founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America.[1] The league adopted its current name at the start of the 1949–50 season when it merged with the National Basketball League.[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 the NBA Finals.

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 won the most conference titles with 31, which consists of 30 Western Conference titles and one title in the now-defunct Central Division. They also made 40 appearances in the Conference Finals, more than any other teams. The Boston Celtics won 21 Eastern Conference titles, the second most conference titles won after Lakers. The Celtics also holds the record for consecutive titles; they won 10 consecutive Eastern Division titles from 1957–66. The Warriors and the 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, and Memphis Grizzlies have played in three, one, and one Conference Finals respectively, but they failed to win the titles. Four other franchises, the Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans and Toronto Raptors have never appeared in the Conference Finals. Of the 125 conference and divisional champions, 39 were won by the team who had or tied for the best regular season record for that season.

Key[edit]

^ Winning team of the NBA Finals
Had or tied for the best regular season record for that season

Eastern Division/Conference[edit]

Division Finals[edit]

Year Champion Runner-up Result
1949 Washington Capitols New York Knicks 2–1
1950 Syracuse Nationals New York Knicks 2–1
1951 New York Knicks Syracuse Nationals 3–2
1952 New York Knicks Syracuse Nationals 3–1
1953 New York Knicks Boston Celtics 3–1
1954 Syracuse Nationals Boston Celtics 2–0
1955 Syracuse Nationals Boston Celtics 3–1
1956 Philadelphia Warriors Syracuse Nationals 3–2
1957 Boston Celtics Syracuse Nationals 3–0
1958 Boston Celtics Philadelphia Warriors 4–1
1959 Boston Celtics Syracuse Nationals 4–3
1960 Boston Celtics Philadelphia Warriors 4–2
1961 Boston Celtics Syracuse Nationals 4–1
1962 Boston Celtics Philadelphia Warriors 4–3
1963 Boston Celtics Cincinnati Royals 4–3
1964 Boston Celtics Cincinnati Royals 4–1
1965 Boston Celtics Philadelphia 76ers 4–3
1966 Boston Celtics Philadelphia 76ers 4–1
1967 Philadelphia 76ers Boston Celtics 4–1
1968 Boston Celtics Philadelphia 76ers 4–3
1969 Boston Celtics New York Knicks 4–2
1970 New York Knicks Milwaukee Bucks 4–1

Conference Finals[edit]

Year Champion Runner-up Result
1971 Baltimore Bullets New York Knicks 4–3
1972 New York Knicks Boston Celtics 4–1
1973 New York Knicks Boston Celtics 4–3
1974 Boston Celtics New York Knicks 4–1
1975 Washington Bullets Boston Celtics 4–2
1976 Boston Celtics Cleveland Cavaliers 4–2
1977 Philadelphia 76ers Houston Rockets 4–2
1978 Washington Bullets Philadelphia 76ers 4–2
1979 Washington Bullets San Antonio Spurs 4–3
1980 Philadelphia 76ers Boston Celtics 4–1
1981 Boston Celtics Philadelphia 76ers 4–3
1982 Philadelphia 76ers Boston Celtics 4–3
1983 Philadelphia 76ers Milwaukee Bucks 4–1
1984 Boston Celtics Milwaukee Bucks 4–1
1985 Boston Celtics Philadelphia 76ers 4–1
1986 Boston Celtics Milwaukee Bucks 4–0
1987 Boston Celtics Detroit Pistons 4–3
1988 Detroit Pistons Boston Celtics 4–2
1989 Detroit Pistons Chicago Bulls 4–2
1990 Detroit Pistons Chicago Bulls 4–3
1991 Chicago Bulls Detroit Pistons 4–0
1992 Chicago Bulls Cleveland Cavaliers 4–2
1993 Chicago Bulls New York Knicks 4–2
1994 New York Knicks Indiana Pacers 4–3
1995 Orlando Magic Indiana Pacers 4–3
1996 Chicago Bulls Orlando Magic 4–0
1997 Chicago Bulls Miami Heat 4–1
1998 Chicago Bulls Indiana Pacers 4–3
1999 New York Knicks Indiana Pacers 4–2
2000 Indiana Pacers New York Knicks 4–2
2001 Philadelphia 76ers Milwaukee Bucks 4–3
2002 New Jersey Nets Boston Celtics 4–2
2003 New Jersey Nets Detroit Pistons 4–0
2004 Detroit Pistons Indiana Pacers 4–2
2005 Detroit Pistons Miami Heat 4–3
2006 Miami Heat Detroit Pistons 4–2
2007 Cleveland Cavaliers Detroit Pistons 4–2
2008 Boston Celtics Detroit Pistons 4–2
2009 Orlando Magic Cleveland Cavaliers 4–2
2010 Boston Celtics Orlando Magic 4–2
2011 Miami Heat Chicago Bulls 4–1
2012 Miami Heat Boston Celtics 4–3
2013 Miami Heat Indiana Pacers 4–3
2014 Miami Heat Indiana Pacers 4–2

Western Division/Conference[edit]

Division Finals[edit]

Year Champion Runner-up Result
1949 Minneapolis Lakers Rochester Royals 2–0
1950 Anderson Packers[a] Indianapolis Olympians 2–1
1951 Rochester Royals Minneapolis Lakers 3–1
1952 Minneapolis Lakers Rochester Royals 3–1
1953 Minneapolis Lakers Fort Wayne Pistons 3–2
1954 Minneapolis Lakers Rochester Royals 2–1
1955 Fort Wayne Pistons Minneapolis Lakers 3–1
1956 Fort Wayne Pistons St. Louis Hawks 3–2
1957 St. Louis Hawks Minneapolis Lakers 3–0
1958 St. Louis Hawks Detroit Pistons 4–1
1959 Minneapolis Lakers St. Louis Hawks 4–2
1960 St. Louis Hawks Minneapolis Lakers 4–3
1961 St. Louis Hawks Los Angeles Lakers 4–3
1962 Los Angeles Lakers Detroit Pistons 4–2
1963 Los Angeles Lakers St. Louis Hawks 4–3
1964 San Francisco Warriors St. Louis Hawks 4–3
1965 Los Angeles Lakers Baltimore Bullets 4–2
1966 Los Angeles Lakers St. Louis Hawks 4–3
1967 San Francisco Warriors St. Louis Hawks 4–2
1968 Los Angeles Lakers San Francisco Warriors 4–0
1969 Los Angeles Lakers Atlanta Hawks 4–1
1970 Los Angeles Lakers Atlanta Hawks 4–0

Conference Finals[edit]

Year Champion Runner-up Result
1971 Milwaukee Bucks Los Angeles Lakers 4–1
1972 Los Angeles Lakers Milwaukee Bucks 4–2
1973 Los Angeles Lakers Golden State Warriors 4–1
1974 Milwaukee Bucks Chicago Bulls 4–0
1975 Golden State Warriors Chicago Bulls 4–3
1976 Phoenix Suns Golden State Warriors 4–3
1977 Portland Trail Blazers Los Angeles Lakers 4–0
1978 Seattle SuperSonics Denver Nuggets 4–2
1979 Seattle SuperSonics Phoenix Suns 4–3
1980 Los Angeles Lakers Seattle SuperSonics 4–1
1981 Houston Rockets Kansas City Kings 4–1
1982 Los Angeles Lakers San Antonio Spurs 4–0
1983 Los Angeles Lakers San Antonio Spurs 4–2
1984 Los Angeles Lakers Phoenix Suns 4–2
1985 Los Angeles Lakers Denver Nuggets 4–1
1986 Houston Rockets Los Angeles Lakers 4–1
1987 Los Angeles Lakers Seattle SuperSonics 4–0
1988 Los Angeles Lakers Dallas Mavericks 4–3
1989 Los Angeles Lakers Phoenix Suns 4–0
1990 Portland Trail Blazers Phoenix Suns 4–2
1991 Los Angeles Lakers Portland Trail Blazers 4–2
1992 Portland Trail Blazers Utah Jazz 4–2
1993 Phoenix Suns Seattle SuperSonics 4–3
1994 Houston Rockets Utah Jazz 4–1
1995 Houston Rockets San Antonio Spurs 4–2
1996 Seattle SuperSonics Utah Jazz 4–3
1997 Utah Jazz Houston Rockets 4–2
1998 Utah Jazz Los Angeles Lakers 4–0
1999 San Antonio Spurs Portland Trail Blazers 4–0
2000 Los Angeles Lakers Portland Trail Blazers 4–3
2001 Los Angeles Lakers San Antonio Spurs 4–0
2002 Los Angeles Lakers Sacramento Kings 4–3
2003 San Antonio Spurs Dallas Mavericks 4–2
2004 Los Angeles Lakers Minnesota Timberwolves 4–2
2005 San Antonio Spurs Phoenix Suns 4–1
2006 Dallas Mavericks Phoenix Suns 4–2
2007 San Antonio Spurs Utah Jazz 4–1
2008 Los Angeles Lakers San Antonio Spurs 4–1
2009 Los Angeles Lakers Denver Nuggets 4–2
2010 Los Angeles Lakers Phoenix Suns 4–2
2011 Dallas Mavericks Oklahoma City Thunder 4–1
2012 Oklahoma City Thunder San Antonio Spurs 4–2
2013 San Antonio Spurs Memphis Grizzlies 4–0
2014 San Antonio Spurs Oklahoma City Thunder 4–2

Central Division[edit]

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.

Divisional Finals[edit]

Year Champion Runner-up Result
1950 Minneapolis Lakers Fort Wayne Pistons 2–0

Results by teams[edit]

Total number of appearances
Team East West Central Total East West Central Total Total
appearances
Champions Runner-up
Minneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers 0 30 1 31 0 9 0 9 40
Boston Celtics 21 0 0 21 11 0 0 11 32
Syracuse Nationals / Philadelphia 76ers 9 0 0 9 12 0 0 12 21
New York Knicks 8 0 0 8 7 0 0 7 15
Fort Wayne / Detroit Pistons 5 2 0 7 6 3 1 10 17
Chicago Bulls 6 0 0 6 3 2 0 5 11
St. Louis / Atlanta Hawks 0 4 0 4 0 8 0 8 12
Philadelphia / San Francisco / Golden State Warriors 1 3 0 4 3 3 0 6 10
San Antonio Spurs 0 6 0 6 1 6 0 7 13
Seattle SuperSonics / Oklahoma City Thunder 0 4 0 4 0 5 0 5 9
Houston Rockets 0 4 0 4 1 1 0 2 6
Baltimore Bullets / Washington Wizards 4 0 0 4 0 1 0 1 5
Portland Trail Blazers 0 3 0 3 0 3 0 3 6
Phoenix Suns 0 2 0 2 0 7 0 7 9
Milwaukee Bucks 0 2 0 2 5 1 0 6 8
Utah Jazz 0 2 0 2 0 4 0 4 6
Orlando Magic 2 0 0 2 2 0 0 2 4
New Jersey Nets 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 2
Rochester / Cincinnati Royals /
Kansas City / Sacramento Kings
0 1 0 1 2 5 0 7 8
Miami Heat 5 0 0 5 2 0 0 2 7
Indiana Pacers 1 0 0 1 5 0 0 5 7
Dallas Mavericks 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 4
Cleveland Cavaliers 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 3 4
Anderson Packers[a] (folded in 1950) 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Washington Capitols (folded in 1951) 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Denver Nuggets 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 3 3
Indianapolis Olympians (folded in 1953) 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1
Minnesota Timberwolves 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1
Memphis Grizzlies 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1
Consecutive appearances

Conference Finals Broadcasters[edit]

Eastern Conference Finals[edit]

2000s[edit]

National television[edit]

Year Teams Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
2007 Cleveland-Detroit TNT

National Radio[edit]

Year Teams Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
2007 Cleveland-Detroit ESPN

Local Radio[edit]

Year Teams Flagship station Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
2007 Cleveland-Detroit WTAM-AM (Cleveland) Joe Tait
WDFN-AM (Detroit)

1970s[edit]

National television[edit]

Year Teams Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
1978 Washington-Philadelphia CBS Game 1 and Game 4 Brent Musburger John Havlicek

Local television[edit]

Year Teams Channel Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
1978 Washington-Philadelphia WDCA-TV (Washington D.C. area) (Washington) Game 2 and Game 5 Jim Karvellas Gus Johnson
WKBS-TV (Philadelphia area) (Philadelphia) Game 3 and Game 6
PRISM (Philadelphia area) (Philadelphia) Game 2 and Game 5

Local Radio[edit]

Year Teams Flagship station Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
1978 Washington-Philadelphia WTOP-AM (Washington) Frank Herzog
WCAU-AM (Philadelphia) Don Henderson Matt Guokas

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Goldaper, Sam. "The First Game". NBA.com. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ "1949–50 Season Overview: Powerful Lakers Repeat". NBA.com. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Anderson Packers Franchise Index". basketball-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Washington Wizards Franchise Index". basketball-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved November 24, 2010.