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.
However, speaking of the LA Lakers.
I wanted to take a deeper look at the teams that attain this 'elite team' designation.
2014 'elite teams':
The Clippers lost their 20th game before winning their 40th game, but were still 40-20 after 60 games.
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.
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%)
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
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
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... :-)
Since the Blazers were last considered 'elite,' 20 other NBA franchises have also had that designation for at least one season.
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.