Which NBA teams have performed the best and which have underachieved in the playoffs so far this century? Who has the most playoff appearances and who has the least? All of these questions will be answered as this article takes a look at each team’s playoff history over the last 19 postseasons (1999-2000 to 2017-18) using information gathered from Pro-Basketball Reference.
Every NBA team’s playoff record
Below is a table of every NBA team’s basic information, sorted by the number of playoff appearances that each team has. It also shows each team’s overall playoff record and their series record.
Out of the 30 NBA teams, 18 have made the playoffs at least 10 times. The San Antonio Spurs have made the playoff every single year. In contrast, the New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Charlotte Hornets have the least appearances having only made it six times.
|Team||Playoff App||Playoff Record||Series Record|
|San Antonio Spurs||19||148-103 (59%)||32-15 (68.1%)|
|Dallas Mavericks||15||70-78 (47.3%)||13-14 (48.1%)|
|Miami Heat||14||110-76 (59.1%)||23-11 (67.6%)|
|Boston Celtics||14||94-89 (51.4%)||17-13 (56.7%)|
|Indiana Pacers||14||70-75 (48.3%)||11-14 (44%)|
|Los Angeles Lakers||13||123-75 (62.1%)||30-8 (78.9%)|
|Portland Trail Blazers||12||30-52 (36.6%)||4-12 (25%)|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||11||63-60 (51.2%)||11-11 (50%)|
|Houston Rockets||11||47-53 (47%)||6-11 (35.3%)|
|Chicago Bulls||11||39-52 (42.9%)||5-11 (31.3%)|
|Utah Jazz||11||37-57 (39.4%)||7-11 (38.9%)|
|Detroit Pistons||10||73-64 (53.3%)||16-9 (64%)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||10||44-52 (45.8%)||7-10 (41.2%)|
|Atlanta Hawks||10||38-54 (41.3%)||6-10 (37.5%)|
|Toronto Raptors||10||32-50 (39%)||5-10 (33.3%)|
|Memphis Grizzlies||10||29-46 (38.7%)||4-10 (28.6%)|
|Milwaukee Bucks||10||26-43 (37.7%)||2-10 (16.7%)|
|Denver Nuggets||10||22-42 (34.4%)||2-10 (16.7%)|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||9||97-55 (63.8%)||21-8 (72.4%)|
|Brooklyn Nets||9||53-50 (51.5%)||10-9 (52.6%)|
|Orlando Magic||9||36-42 (46.2%)||6-9 (40%)|
|Phoenix Suns||8||43-43 (50%)||8-8 (50%)|
|Washington Wizards||8||29-37 (43.9%)||4-8 (33.3%)|
|Golden State Warriors||7||77-36 (68.1%)||17-4 (81%)|
|Sacramento Kings||7||32-32 (50%)||5-7 (41.7%)|
|New Orleans Pelicans||7||20-29 (40.8%)||2-7 (22.2%)|
|Los Angeles Clippers||7||31-38 (44.9%)||4-7 (36.4%)|
|New York Knicks||6||18-28 (39.1%)||3-6 (33.3%)|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||6||15-25 (37.5%)||2-6 (25%)|
|Charlotte Hornets||6||14-24 (36.8%)||2-6 (25%)|
The Spurs have more playoff appearances this century then seven NBA franchises have in their entire histories. They also have as many or more playoff losses (103) this century then 20 NBA franchises have total playoff games in the same span.
Best and worst performing playoff teams this century
Over the 19 playoffs that have taken place so far this century only five teams have won at least 55% of their games. The top two teams are the Warriors and the Cavaliers, which is unsurprising considering both have dominated the league in the last four seasons.
On the other end of the spectrum, there have been 10 teams that have won less than 40% of their playoff games. The five worst teams are listed in the table below, with the Nuggets occupying the bottom spot.
|Golden State Warriors||77-36 (68.1%)|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||97-55 (63.8%)|
|Los Angeles Lakers||123-75 (62.1%)|
|Miami Heat||110-76 (59.1%)|
|San Antonio Spurs||148-103 (59%)|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||15-25 (37.5%)|
|Charlotte Hornets||14-24 (36.8%)|
|Portland Trail Blazers||30-52 (36.6%)|
|Los Angeles Clippers||21-38 (35.6%)|
|Denver Nuggets||22-42 (34.4%)|
In terms of winning playoff series, only six teams have won over 60% of the ones they have played in this century. Unsurprisingly, it is the same five teams from the above table, plus the Detroit Pistons. Only six teams have worst than a 25% series win rate, with the Bucks and Nuggets tying for last place.
|Golden State Warriors||17-4 (81%)|
|Los Angeles Lakers||30-8 (78.9%)|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||21-8 (72.4%)|
|San Antonio Spurs||32-15 (68.1%)|
|Miami Heat||23-11 (67.6%)|
|Detroit Pistons||16-9 (64%)|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||2-6 (25%)|
|Charlotte Hornets||2-6 (25%)|
|Portland Trail Blazers||4-12 (25%)|
|New Orleans Pelicans||2-7 (22.2%)|
|Milwaukee Bucks||2-10 (16.7%)|
|Denver Nuggets||2-10 (16.7%)|
Playoff sweeps so far this century
Out the 285 series to be played over these past 19 playoffs, there has been a total of 53 sweeps to take place. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the most accounting for 10 (18.86%) of all sweeps. Golden State has the most sweeps (5) without having been swept.
Meanwhile, the Hoston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers stand out for having not swept anyone or gotten swept this century. The Memphis Grizzlies have been swept the most (five times), one more than Toronto, Atlanta, and Portland.
|Team||Swept Opponent||Got Swept|
|Los Angeles Lakers||7||2|
|San Antonio Spurs||7||3|
|Golden State Warriors||5||0|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||1||0|
|New Orleans Pelicans||1||1|
|New York Knicks||1||2|
|Los Angeles Clippers||0||1|
|Portland Trail Blazers||0||4|
Getting to each playoff round
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team to advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs everytime they have made the playoffs. Detroit has the best ratio of making it out of the 2nd round, having done so 6/7 times. Meanwhile, the Lakers are the best at getting to the Finals, having made it there every time (7/7) they got to the conference championship round.
Only four teams have never made it to the conference championship round so far this century. The Washington Wizards have the most playoff appearances (8), without having reached the conference championship round. Meanwhile, the Portland Trail Blazers have the most playoff appearances (12) without having reached the Finals.
|Team||Playoff App.||2nd Round App.||Conf. Champ App.||Finals App.|
|Los Angeles Lakers||13||10||7||7|
|San Antonio Spurs||19||14||9||5|
|Golden State Warriors||7||6||4||4|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||11||6||4||1|
|Portland Trail Blazers||12||3||1||0|
|New York Knicks||6||2||1||0|
|Los Angeles Clippers||7||4||0||0|
|New Orelans Pelicans||7||2||0||0|
The Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors have dominated this century so far, winning 15/19 (78.94%) of all NBA Finals. All 19 NBA Finals have featured at least one of these four teams playing for the championship.
The Western Conference has been dominated by the Lakers, Spurs, and Warriors who have 16/19 (84.21%) total Finals appearances. Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference has been dominated by LeBron James, who has taken the Heat and Cavaliers to the Finals 9/15 (60%) times since he entered the league.
|Team||Finals App||Finals W/L||Finals Game Record|
|Los Angeles Lakers||7||5-2||23-15|
|San Antonio Spurs||5||4-1||19-10|
|Golden State Warriors||4||3-1||15-7|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||1||0-1||1-4|
Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)
https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/ (Used to get playoff information for each team)
https://www.printyourbrackets.com/winning-percentage-calculator.php (Used to find win percentage for each team)