September 19, 2017

The 14 biggest blowouts ever in NBA Playoff history

2017/05/20 1:55 pm 1:55 pm1:55 pm0 0 comments

nba playoff biggest blowouts

The NBA Playoffs are supposed to have a higher level of competition than the regular season. That’s because a team’s season is at a risk; they’re playing for your life. If you’re the last team standing after four usually-intense seven-game series, you’ll bring home an NBA championship to your city, be even more adored by the fans and have your season cemented into the record books..

We say “usually” because not every playoff game or series is competitive. Someone please alert the Boston Celtics that the playoffs aren’t the regular season. Boston was just destroyed and embarrassed by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs by 44 points. The Celtics had home court advantage and ended up losing both games AT HOME. The 44 points was the biggest defeat suffered by a #1 seed ever.

Not sure if that’s the biggest blowout in a playoff home game — we’ll look into that. But firts, when it comes to the biggest playoff blowouts in NBA history, the Celtics loss to the Cavs is up there, but it’s not the largest playoff blowout by a long shot.

What about the biggest losses in the regular season vs. the playoffs –is there a huge disparity in largest win margins? Not as much as you’d think considering the higher level of play. What’s the difference between losing by 68 points or 58 points? Not much if you’re asking me.

Anyways, here’s the largest margins of victory in NBA Playoff history:

# Margin Year Round Winner Loser
1
58
1956 Division Semis Minneapolis Lakers 133 St. Louis Hawks 75
1
58
2009 First Round Denver Nuggets 121 New Orleans Hornets 63
3
56
1973 Conference Finals Los Angeles Lakers 126 Golden State Warriors 70
4
54
2015 First Round Chicago Bulls 120 Milwaukee Bucks 66
5
50
1971 Conference Semis Milwaukee Bucks 136 San Francisco Warriors 86
6
47
1986 First Round Los Angeles Lakers 135 San Antonio Spurs 88
6
47
1995 First Round Orlando Magic 124 Boston Celtics 77
8
44
1958 Western Finals St. Louis Hawks 145 Detroit Pistons 101
8
44
1985 Conference Finals Los Angeles Lakers 153 Denver Nuggets 109
8
44
1997 First Round Seattle Supersonics 122 Phoenix Suns 78
8
44
2017 Conference Finals Cleveland Cavs 130 Boston Celtics 86
12
43
1987 Conference Semis Los Angeles 134 Dallas Mavericks 91
12
43
1987 First Round Detroit Pistons 128 Washington Bullets 85
12
43
2010 Conference Semis Orlando Magic 114 Atlanta Hawks 71

As you can see from the list (and probably assumed and expected), a good chunk of the blowouts happened during the first round of the playoffs. If we were to extend the list by one spot, it would have included the first NBA Finals round on the list. For more details on that blowout, check out our list of the 23 biggest blowouts in NBA Finals history.

History tells us that the #1, #2 or #3 seed wins more than a 95% chance of the championships in NBA history. There’s no Hoosiers or March Madness happening in June. And no #8 seed has ever won the title.

magic johnson biggest blowouts

Separating Contenders from the Pretenders

Even with the high expectations of the NBA postseason, clearly some playoff teams aren’t nearly as prepared or experienced (see Celtics) as they should be. These are the pretenders and they make up the majority of playoff teams. Some are competitive during the regular season and some stumble along the season with enough talent to string enough wins together to squeak into that last spot.

On the other side are the playoff-tested teams (see Cavs). These teams are the contenders; have suffered through NBA heartbreak, continually improving throughout the season, resting their star players, tweaking their system with an eye at another shot at the title.

The playoff results bare out which teams are which as teams’ weaknesses are exposed until those weaknesses eventually eliminate them; leaving them another year to figure out the pieces they need to become contenders. Sometimes a team needs a good butt-whooping for them to see that they’re not quite where they need to be competitive in the NBA playoffs, much less winning an NBA title.

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