The playoffs are approaching, and the Western Conference will be making history. There’s no need to look further than the Los Angeles Clippers to see this. After being labeled as the conference’s bottom seed last year, the Clippers won the West and are now into the playoffs for the first time in their history. In the last three seasons, the Clippers have played in the West semifinals, conference finals, and NBA Finals, leading their conference three of the four times.
As you watch the NBA playoffs, you may be wondering why the Western Conference playoffs seem to be so much more compelling than the East. While the Western Conference is more competitive, it’s also smaller. We’ve seen the underdog rise up to win an NBA title before, but the level of parity in the Western Conference is unprecedented. This year, the next several weekends will be crucial in determining the fate of the conference.
The Western Conference playoff races are still very much up in the air. The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are widely considered the two favorites to win the NBA title. However, the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets are still very much in the race, and the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers have been looking good as well. In fact, how they finish out the season could very well be the difference between dynasty and long-term struggles.
Whichever team receives the Larry O’Brien Trophy out of the eight teams remaining in the NBA playoffs will be a big moment for this franchise. Of the clubs still in the conference semi-finals, only three have won a championship before. None of these titles appeared after the turn of the millennium. The Western Conference has a brand new group of players. The rest of the Western playoffs are a group that has only met once in the NBA since the Eastern and Western conferences were separated in 1970. When you look at the total number of seasons these teams have existed, it becomes even more remarkable. What exactly did these Western Conference teams do? It’s more about what they didn’t do in the NBA playoffs.
There are new, or at least unknown, boundaries in the NBA playoffs in the West
. The Western Conference has long been considered the stronger of the two NBA subgroups, although Eastern teams have won four of the last ten championships. Whoever comes out of the West this year will be doing something rare or unheard of for their franchise. Of the four remaining teams in the Western Conference – the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz – none has won an NBA championship yet. It’s not about new clubs either. Two of them have been playing in the NBA for over half a century, and the other two are approaching this milestone in their history. The only other time the four conference semifinalists failed to win the title was in the 1994 NBA playoffs. In this case, the tipping point was the Western Conference. Three teams from this year’s selection were in attendance (Denver, Phoenix and Utah). A fourth team, the Houston Rockets, won the franchise’s first championship that year. After beating the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, the Rockets defeated the Suns and Jazz before beating the New York Knicks in seven games.
The Suns and Jazz have at least reached the NBA Finals
Clockwise from left to right: Denver Nuggets in the 2020 Western Conference Finals, Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals, Los Angeles Clippers in the 2020 NBA Finals and Utah Jazz in the 1997 NBA Finals. None of the four Western Conference semifinalists has won an NBA title. | Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images | Focus on Sport/Getty Images | Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images | Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images Two of the four remaining Western Conference participants have NBA Finals experience. This is not a new experience. One player on the Utah Jazz team, center Udoka Azubuike, had not yet been born when Utah last played in the NBA Finals. The other, two-way player Trent Forrest, was two days old when the Chicago Bulls beat the Jazz in six games in the 1998 NBA Finals. Looking through the same lens is even more striking for the Phoenix Suns. Future Hall of Fame player Chris Paul was 8 years old when the Suns lost to the Bulls in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals. Only five members of the current team – E’Toon Moore, Jay Crowder, Torrey Craig, Langston Galloway and Frank Kaminski – had been here before, and Kaminski had only been here a little over two months. You can tell these two fans have been waiting a long time for this.
The NBA playoffs have not been kind to the Nuggets, but they have been kind to the Clippers
. The Denver Nuggets have made the playoffs 27 times in their 45 seasons since joining the NBA in 1976. During that time, the Nuggets never made it to the NBA Finals. They are 0-4 in the Western Conference Finals, including a five-game loss against the Los Angeles Lakers in Orlando last year. They also never won a championship in the ABA, although they did reach the league’s championship series in 1976. Los Angeles Clippers? The franchise is in its 51st season. Season and third hometown. In 2021, the Clippers won for only the 16th time. They never made the playoffs and never got beyond the semifinals. Not in Buffalo. Not in San Diego. And not since he moved to Los Angeles in 1984. The franchise has been eliminated nine times in the conference semifinals. Including twice in Buffalo (1974 and 1975), where they went straight to that round. Eight teams made the NBA playoffs in 1974, ten the following year. This year, the four teams that have reached the Western Conference semifinals have combined for 196 seasons and no titles. And this group is only guaranteed a spot in the NBA Finals, nothing more. But, as these franchises have experienced, the NBA playoffs must be approached one step at a time. Historical data provided by Basketball Reference.Only five teams from the Western Conference have ever made the NBA Finals, and three of those were in the 1980’s. But who cares about the past? All that matters is the future. The West will be full of teams that are younger, hungrier, and more athletic than their Eastern counterparts. And the West is the top conference in the league – so expect a lot of upsets, and a lot of action.. Read more about eastern conference finals 2019 and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many teams from each conference make the NBA playoffs?
The NBA playoffs are almost here, and if you’re a fan of the playoff race, chances are you’re rooting for your favorite team or at least have been keeping up with the latest news. While we know that some teams will emerge at the end of the season as the best in the league, there are many that have already been eliminated. But, who will be the last one standing? The NBA Playoffs are set to begin, and with so many teams that could make a run, we can’t say for certain which four teams will advance to the Finals. So, we decided to analyze the number of teams from each conference that have made it to the NBA Finals since 1985.
How does the NBA playoffs work?
The NBA playoffs begin this week, and from now until the end of the regular season, the regular season will be all anyone talks about. That’s all fine and well, but it’s not really the most interesting part of the NBA season. There are 32 teams in the NBA, and they all play the same 82 games, but at the same time, each team has a different conference and a different schedule. So, this is what the entire season is actually about. This year’s NBA Playoffs will be awesome. This will be the first season where the Western Conference is better than the Eastern Conference. The Western Conference has been brewing a pot of destiny for years and that pot is finally boiling. This year should be the first of many big West vs. East battles because the balance of power is shifting.
How many wins does a NBA team need to make it to the playoffs?
In the 2010 NBA Draft, the Bobcats went on to select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out of Kentucky, and for the first time, Charlotte had a future star on its roster. The second round is typically a time of ups and downs for draft prospects, as the selection of a player that falls in the draft’s second round is not as coveted as a first round selection. Nonetheless, the Bobcats have established some stability, and with the addition of Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson, the franchise had the potential to become a perennial playoff contender. Even without a superstar, a playoff berth is possible. The Western Conference playoffs will make history. A team will make the playoffs with a record below .500, which has never occurred before in NBA history. On top of that, the playoff teams in the West will all be below .500. The NBA Playoffs are about as unpredictable as they come, so anything can happen.
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