FanPost

Taking a Deeper Look at the 40-20 Club

First, I wanted to say that I hate losing to the Lakers...

The LA Lakers have at least 1 win against the Portland Trailblazers every season since 1993-94.The dream had been that with a win tonight, the Blazers could complete the sweep of the LA Lakers on April Fools Day @Staples on TNT (April Fools Day is both Robin Lopez and was the late Kevin Duckworth' birthday).

The dream of sweeping the LA Lakers will have to wait another season... sigh.

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However, speaking of the LA Lakers.

I really enjoyed FreewheelinDylan' post, where he discussed Phil Jackson' concept that to be an elite team, you have to win 40 games before you lose 20 games.

I wanted to take a deeper look at the teams that attain this 'elite team' designation.

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2014 'elite teams':

Miami Heat
Oklahoma City Thunder
San Antonio Spurs
Indiana Pacers
Portland Trailblazers
Houston Rockets

The Clippers lost their 20th game before winning their 40th game, but were still 40-20 after 60 games.

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With the exception of the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons(who won 20 of their last 24 games) and the 1994-95 Houston Rockets, every NBA Championship has been won by a team with a 40-20 or better record after 60 games since 1979.

The other exception would be the 2006 Miami Heat who lost their 20th game before they won their 40th game, but still had a record of 40-20 after 60 games.

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The Portland Trailblazers haven't been a member of the 40-20 club since the 2000-01 season, when they lost in the first round to the LA Lakers.

Here are the list of 'elite teams' since the 2000-01 season:

Team Reached Lost to a fellow 40-20 team
2013 Miami Heat Champions
2013 Oklahoma City Thunder Semifinals Yes
2013 San Antonio Spurs Finals Yes
2013 Memphis Grizzlies Conference Finals Yes
2013 LA Clippers First Round Yes
2012 Chicago Bulls First Round No (Derrick Rose injury)
2012 Miami Heat Champions
2012 Oklahoma City Thunder Finals Yes
2012 San Antonio Spurs Conference Finals Yes
2011 Chicago Bulls Conference Finals Yes
2011 Miami Heat Finals Yes
2011 Boston Celtics Semifinals Yes
2011 San Antonio Spurs First Round No (Memphis was 33-27)
2011 Dallas Mavericks Champions
2011 LA Lakers Semifinals Yes
2010 Cleveland Cavaliers Semifinals No (Boston was 39-21)
2010 LA Lakers Champions
2009 Cleveland Cavaliers Conference Finals Yes
2009 Boston Celtics Semifinals Yes
2009 Orlando Magic Finals Yes
2009 LA Lakers Champions
2009 San Antonio Spurs First Round No (Dallas was 36-24)
2008 Boston Celtics Champions
2008 Detroit Pistons Conference Finals Yes
2008 LA Lakers Finals Yes
2008 New Orleans Hornets Semifinals Yes
2008 San Antonio Spurs Conference Finals Yes
2007 Dallas Mavericks First Round No (Golden State was 26-34)
2007 Phoenix Suns Semifinals Yes
2007 San Antonio Spurs Champions
2007 Utah Jazz Conference Finals Yes
2006 Detroit Pistons Conference Finals No (Miami was 40-20)
2006 San Antonio Spurs Semifinals Yes
2006 Phoenix Suns Conference Finals Yes
2006 Dallas Mavericks Finals No (Miami was 40-20)
2005 Miami Heat Conference Finals No (Detroit was 37-23)
2005 Phoenix Suns Conference Finals Yes
2005 San Antonio Spurs Champions
2005 Dallas Mavericks Semifinals Yes
2005 Seattle Supersonics Semifinals Yes
2004 Indiana Pacers Conference Finals No (Detroit was 36-24)
2004 Minnesota Timberwolves Conference Finals No (LAL was 39-21)
2004 Sacramento Kings Semifinals Yes
2003 San Antonio Spurs Champions
2003 Dallas Mavericks Conference Finals Yes
2003 Sacramento Kings Semifinals Yes
2002 Sacramento Kings Conference Finals Yes
2002 Dallas Mavericks Semifinals Yes
2002 LA Lakers Champions
2002 Minnesota Timberwolves First Round Yes
2001 Philadelphia 76ers Finals Yes
2001 LA Lakers Champions
2001 San Antonio Spurs Conference Finals Yes
2001 Sacramento Kings Semifinals Yes
2001 Utah Jazz First Round No (Dallas was 37-23)
2001 Portland Trailblazers First Round Yes

So, from the 2000-01 season to the 2012-13 season, there have been 56 teams that have measure up to the 'win 40 games before you lose 20 games' mantra.

* 11 of them won NBA Championships (19.6%)
* 7 of them lost in the NBA Finals (12.5%)
* 16 of them lost in the Conference Finals (28.6%)
* 14 of them lost in the Conference Semifinals (Second Round) (25.0%)
* 8 of them lost in the First Round (14.3%)

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Put another way:

* 14.3% lost in the First Round
* 85.7% made it to the Conference Semifinals (Second Round)
* 60.7% made it to the Conference Finals
* 32.1% made it to the NBA Finals
* 19.6% won the NBA Championship

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This year there are 6 teams that satisfy the 40-20: Miami, Indiana, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Portland and Houston.

This year does have a larger number than average, but statistically, you would expect:

* one of those teams to lose in the First Round, and five of them to win in the First Round
* four of them to make the Conference Finals
* two of them to make it to the NBA Finals
* one of them to win the NBA Championship

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I think many expect that the Eastern Conference Finals will be Miami vs Indiana, and I think that many believe that OKC vs SA is the most likely Western Conference Finals matchup.

So... Houston vs Portland in the First Round.

I wouldn't mind a rematch with the Houston Rockets (2008-09 First Round).

That was Brandon Roy' first playoff series.

Why not add this to the list of comparable traits/experiences:

  • Both 6th overall picks
  • Both 22 yr old, 4yr college, rookies
  • Both Rookie of the Year (6 years apart)
  • Both All-stars in their 2nd seasons
  • Both were starters from their first game
  • Both dominant guards

And yes, I did that just so that I can 'yell at you guys later' for comparing them... :-)

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Since the Blazers were last considered 'elite,' 20 other NBA franchises have also had that designation for at least one season.

Miami 2013 2012 2011 2005





OKC 2013 2012 2005






SA 2013 2012 2011 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2003 2001
Memphis 2013








LAC 2013








Chicago 2012 2011







Boston 2011 2009 2008






Dallas 2011 2007 2006 2005 2003 2002



LAL 2011 2010 2009 2008 2002 2001



Cleveland 2010 2009







Orlando 2009








Detroit 2008 2006







NO 2008








Phoenix 2007 2006 2005






Utah 2007








Minnesota 2004 2002







Indiana 2004








Sacramento 2004 2003 2002 2001





Philadelphia 2001








Utah 2001








Portland 2001








Again, this year there are 6 teams that satisfy the 40-20: Miami, Indiana, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Portland and Houston.

So, Houston gets their name onto the list.

The 8 franchises without a single 'elite' year: Denver, Golden State, NY Knicks, Brooklyn/NJ Nets, Washington, Charlotte, Milwaukee, and Toronto.

Lastly, Gregg Popovich is simply the man.

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Go Blazers!

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