1954 NBA playoffs

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1954 NBA playoffs
DatesMarch 16–April 12, 1954
Season1953–54
Teams6
ChampionsMinneapolis Lakers (5th title)
Runners-upSyracuse Nationals (2nd finals appearance)
Semifinalists

The 1954 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1953–54 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Minneapolis Lakers defeating the Eastern Conference champion Syracuse Nationals 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals.

For the Lakers, it was their third straight NBA title, and fifth in the last six years.

With the folding of the Indianapolis Olympians after the previous year's playoffs, leaving the NBA with nine teams, they resorted to a round-robin playoff format in 1954 for the only time in league history.

Although the Minneapolis Lakers, Fort Wayne Pistons, Rochester Royals and Syracuse Nationals all play in different cities now (Los Angeles, Detroit, Sacramento and Philadelphia respectively), this is the earliest NBA playoff in which every team that participated still exists today.

Bracket[edit]

  Division Round Robin Semifinals Division Finals NBA Finals
                           
E1 New York* 0–4     E1 Syracuse 2
E2 Boston 2–2     E2 Boston 0  
E3 Syracuse 4–0 Eastern Division
  E1 Syracuse 3
(Teams were re-seeded in Division Finals based on Round Robin win-loss record)
  W1 Minneapolis* 4
W1 Minneapolis* 3–0 W1 Minneapolis* 2
W2 Rochester 2–1 W2 Rochester 1
W3 Fort Wayne 0–4 Western Division

* Division winner
Bold Series winner (Division Round Robin Semifinals: top 2 advanced)
Italic Team with home-court advantage in NBA Finals


Division Round Robin Semifinals[edit]

Within each division, the top three teams in the season standings played a double round robin, comprising one home game in each city for each pair of teams, in order to eliminate one of the three participants. A three-way tie with two wins each would have secured home-court advantage in the Division Finals for New York or Minneapolis, who finished first in the season standings, against an opponent to be determined by one further game played with the season runner-up as host.[1] In the event, neither round-robin generated even a two-way tie, so no seventh game was required in either Division. Two of three teams (shaded green) advanced to the Division Finals. The second game between Minneapolis and Rochester—the sixth and final Western Division game scheduled—was not played because both teams had qualified for the Division Final and Minneapolis had secured home-court advantage in that series. The sixth and final Eastern Division game scheduled, Boston at Syracuse, was played because home-court advantage in their subsequent Division Final hadn't been determined. Both teams had won 42 season games and Boston had won by coin flip the edge in case of a tie in the round-robin stage.[1]

Eastern Division Round Robin Semifinals[edit]

(1) New York Knicks, (2) Boston Celtics, (3) Syracuse Nationals[edit]

March 16
Boston Celtics 93, New York Knicks 71
Scoring by quarter: 16–15, 32–12, 24–19, 21–25
Pts: Cousy, Sharman 22 each
Asts: Bob Cousy 10
Pts: Carl Braun 18
Asts: Simmons, Baechtold 3 each
Madison Square Garden III, Manhattan, New York
Referees: Sid Borgia, Mendy Rudolph
March 17
Syracuse Nationals 96, Boston Celtics 95 (OT)
Scoring by quarter: 15–17, 18–15, 26–24, 22–25Overtime: 15–14
Pts: Dolph Schayes 20
Rebs: Dolph Schayes 13
Asts: Earl Lloyd 8
Pts: Bob Cousy 32
Rebs: three players 10 each
Asts: Jack Nichols 10
March 18
New York Knicks 68, Syracuse Nationals 75
Scoring by quarter: 15–16, 20–25, 14–19, 19–15
Pts: Harry Gallatin 15
Rebs: Harry Gallatin 20
Asts: Jim Baechtold 5
Pts: Dolph Schayes 23
Rebs: Dolph Schayes 16
Asts: Paul Seymour 6
March 20
New York Knicks 78, Boston Celtics 79
Scoring by quarter: 17–15, 24–21, 16–19, 21–24
Pts: Harry Gallatin 15
Asts: Braun, Simmons 3 each
Pts: Bill Sharman 26
Asts: Cousy, Nichols 6 each
Syracuse & Boston clinch berth to Division Finals, New York eliminated
March 21
Syracuse Nationals 103, New York Knicks 99
Scoring by quarter: 22–25, 15–19, 32–26, 34–29
Pts: Dolph Schayes 36
Rebs: Dolph Schayes 21
Asts: Paul Seymour 6
Pts: Carl Braun 32
Rebs: Nat Clifton 16
Asts: Carl Braun 6
Madison Square Garden III, Manhattan, New York
Referees: Jocko Collins, Charles Eckman
  • With the Knicks having already been mathematically eliminated from contention, this is the only playoff game to date in which one team had nothing to play for. This contest only contributed towards who would have home-court advantage in the Division Finals between the Nationals and Celtics.
March 22
Boston Celtics 85, Syracuse Nationals 98
Scoring by quarter: 19–27, 23–18, 21–26, 22–27
Pts: Bob Cousy 25
Rebs: Jack Nichols 12
Asts: Bob Cousy 8
Pts: Dolph Schayes 25
Rebs: Dolph Schayes 16
Asts: Paul Seymour 7
Syracuse finishes as East's #1 seed in Division Finals, Boston finishes as the East's #2 seed


This was the fourth playoff meeting between the Celtics and Knicks, with the Knicks winning two of the first three meetings.

This was the second playoff meeting between the Celtics and Nationals, with the Celtics winning the first meeting.

This was the fourth playoff meeting between the Knicks and Nationals, with the Knicks winning two of the first three meetings.

Western Division Round Robin Semifinals[edit]

(1) Minneapolis Lakers, (2) Rochester Royals, (3) Fort Wayne Pistons[edit]

March 16
Fort Wayne Pistons 75, Rochester Royals 82
Scoring by quarter: 13–19, 15–21, 23–14, 24–28
Pts: George Yardley 20 Pts: Bobby Wanzer 18
March 17
Rochester Royals 88, Minneapolis Lakers 109
Scoring by quarter: 21–29, 17–34, 23–22, 27–24
Pts: Arnie Risen 21 Pts: Slater Martin 24
Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Referees: Jocko Collins, Bill Biebel
March 18
Minneapolis Lakers 90, Fort Wayne Pistons 85
Scoring by quarter: 22–21, 19–20, 27–20, 22–24
Pts: George Mikan 28 Pts: Frankie Brian 20
Minneapolis clinches berth to Division Finals
March 20
Fort Wayne Pistons 73, Minneapolis Lakers 78
Scoring by quarter: 19–21, 15–22, 15–15, 24–20
Pts: Max Zaslofsky 15 Pts: George Mikan 21
Minneapolis finishes as the West's #1 seed in Division Finals
Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Referees: Sid Borgia, Stan Stutz
March 21
Rochester Royals 89, Fort Wayne Pistons 71
Scoring by quarter: 19–14, 17–14, 26–15, 27–28
Pts: Bobby Wanzer 14 Pts: George Yardley 16
Rochester finishes as the West's #2 seed in Division Finals, Fort Wayne eliminated
  • The contest originally scheduled for March 23 (Minneapolis @ Rochester) was not played due to first place finishers owning a tiebreaker, and thus the final positions in the round-robin were already locked in.


This was the fourth playoff meeting between the Lakers and Royals, with the Lakers winning two of the first three meetings.

This was the fifth playoff meeting between the Royals and Pistons, with both teams splitting the first four meetings.

This was the third playoff meeting between the Pistons and Lakers, with the Lakers winning the first two meetings.

Division Finals[edit]

Eastern Division Finals[edit]

(1) Syracuse Nationals vs. (2) Boston Celtics[edit]

March 25
Boston Celtics 94, Syracuse Nationals 109
Scoring by quarter: 30–25, 14–28, 22–27, 28–29
Pts: Jack Nichols 28
Rebs: Jack Nichols 9
Asts: Bill Sharman 5
Pts: Dolph Schayes 27
Rebs: Dolph Schayes 21
Asts: Bill Gabor 6
Syracuse leads series, 1–0
March 27
Syracuse Nationals 83, Boston Celtics 76
Scoring by quarter: 21–21, 19–29, 24–16, 19–10
Pts: Wally Osterkorn 16
Asts: George King 8
Pts: Bill Sharman 20
Asts: Bob Cousy 6
Syracuse wins series, 2–0


This was the third playoff meeting between these two teams following the round-robin, with both teams splitting the first two meetings.

Western Division Finals[edit]

(1) Minneapolis Lakers vs. (2) Rochester Royals[edit]

March 24
Rochester Royals 76, Minneapolis Lakers 89
Scoring by quarter: 17–20, 16–20, 24–24, 19–25
Pts: Wanzer, Coleman 17 each Pts: George Mikan 28
Minneapolis leads series, 1–0
Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Referees: Chuck Eckman, Jocko Collins
March 27
Minneapolis Lakers 73, Rochester Royals 74
Scoring by quarter: 12–16, 16–20, 24–17, 21–21
Pts: George Mikan 17 Pts: Bobby Wanzer 16
Series tied, 1–1
March 28
Rochester Royals 72, Minneapolis Lakers 82
Scoring by quarter: 21–23, 16–22, 20–20, 15–17
Pts: Arnie Risen 24 Pts: George Mikan 17
Minneapolis wins series, 2–1
Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Referees: Jocko Collins, Arnie Heft


This was the fifth playoff meeting between these two teams following the round-robin, with the Lakers winning three of the first four meetings.

NBA Finals: (W1) Minneapolis Lakers vs. (E1) Syracuse Nationals[edit]

March 31
Syracuse Nationals 68, Minneapolis Lakers 79
Scoring by quarter: 13–10, 18–24, 19–22, 18–23
Pts: Bob Lavoy 15
Rebs: Wally Osterkorn 8
Asts: Paul Seymour 6
Pts: Clyde Lovellette 16
Rebs: George Mikan 10
Asts: Slater Martin 6
Minneapolis leads series, 1–0
Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Attendance: 4,579
Referees: Charles Eckman, Joe Serafin
April 3
Syracuse Nationals 62, Minneapolis Lakers 60
Scoring by quarter: 15–15, 13–12, 20–11, 14–22
Pts: Wally Osterkorn 20
Rebs: Wally Osterkorn 17
Asts: Lavoy, Seymour 3 each
Pts: George Mikan 15
Rebs: George Mikan 15
Asts: Vern Mikkelsen 3
Series tied, 1–1
Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Attendance: 6,277
Referees: Charles Eckman, Joe Serafin
  • Paul Seymour hits the game-winner from 43 feet with 7 seconds left.
April 4
Minneapolis Lakers 81, Syracuse Nationals 67
Scoring by quarter: 24–16, 14–17, 20–11, 23–23
Pts: George Mikan 30
Rebs: George Mikan 15
Asts: Slater Martin 7
Pts: Bob Lavoy 18
Rebs: Bob Lavoy 15
Asts: Paul Seymour 7
Minneapolis leads series, 2–1
April 8
Minneapolis Lakers 69, Syracuse Nationals 80
Scoring by quarter: 14–18, 20–18, 18–21, 17–23
Pts: Whitey Skoog 16
Rebs: Jim Pollard 9
Asts: Slater Martin 6
Pts: Paul Seymour 25
Rebs: Bob Lavoy 11
Asts: Paul Seymour 6
Series tied, 2–2
April 10
Minneapolis Lakers 84, Syracuse Nationals 73
Scoring by quarter: 22–17, 19–14, 21–21, 22–21
Pts: Vern Mikkelsen 21
Rebs: Mikan, Lovellette 13 each
Asts: Slater Martin 7
Pts: Dolph Schayes 17
Rebs: Earl Lloyd 8
Asts: Paul Seymour 5
Minneapolis leads series, 3–2
April 11
Syracuse Nationals 65, Minneapolis Lakers 63
Scoring by quarter: 19–27, 19–16, 16–6, 11–14
Pts: Paul Seymour 16 Pts: George Mikan 30
Series tied, 3–3
Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Attendance: 6,776
Referees: Charles Eckman, Joe Serafin
April 12
Syracuse Nationals 80, Minneapolis Lakers 87
Scoring by quarter: 14–17, 18–21, 22–27, 26–22
Pts: Dolph Schayes 18 Pts: Jim Pollard 21
Minneapolis wins series, 4–3
Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Attendance: 7,274
Referees: Charles Eckman, Joe Serafin


This was the second playoff meeting between these two teams, with the Lakers winning the first meeting.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "NBA Division Playoffs Open Tonight". The Washington Post. March 16, 1954.
  2. ^ "Team Rivalry Finder — Boston Celtics versus New York Knicks (Playoffs)". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Team Rivalry Finder — Boston Celtics versus Philadelphia 76ers (Playoffs)". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  4. ^ "Team Rivalry Finder — New York Knicks versus Philadelphia 76ers (Playoffs)". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Team Rivalry Finder — Los Angeles Lakers versus Sacramento Kings (Playoffs)". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  6. ^ "Team Rivalry Finder — Detroit Pistons versus Sacramento Kings (Playoffs)". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  7. ^ "Team Rivalry Finder — Detroit Pistons versus Los Angeles Lakers (Playoffs)". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  8. ^ "Team Rivalry Finder — Los Angeles Lakers versus Philadelphia 76ers (Playoffs)". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved February 19, 2021.

External links[edit]