The NBA is all about the playoffs. The regular season is just an elongated way for the league to weed out the worst teams from the cream of the crop, who then face off against each other in what is known as “real” basketball. Well, this is just one opinion, but it is definitely rooted in truth: the best teams are those that make it to the playoffs. By that logic, the very best teams are those that, historically, have made it to the playoffs in not only an excellent manner (by winning a lot of playoff games and even championships) but by doing it in a consistent manner.
Who has played in the most NBA Conference Finals? Since the NBA Conference Finals were introduced in 1971 the Los Angeles Lakers have played in the most NBA Conference Finals. The Laker have made 23 appearances, winning 19 times and losing 4 times. The NBA Conference Finals are the 3rd and penultimate round of the NBA Playoffs; winners of the Conference Finals advance to the NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics have made 21 NBA Conference Finals, losing 11, and are second on the list.
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How do the NBA Conference Finals work?
The NBA Conference Finals are the 3rd round of the NBA Playoffs. It features two matchups: one between the remaining two Eastern Conference teams, and the other between the two remaining Western Conference teams. After the culmination of a best-of-7 series (first team to win 4 games is the winner), the winner is declared the champion of their respective conference. The Eastern Conference champions receive the Bob Cousy Eastern Conference Finals trophy, and the series MVP receives the Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals award. The Western Conference champion receives the Oscar Robertson Western Conference Finals trophy, and the series MVP receives the Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP award. The Eastern Conference champion and the Western Conference champion play each other in the NBA Finals to determine the overall NBA champion.
Why do the Boston Celtics have fewer Conference Finals wins than NBA Finals wins?
The Boston Celtics have won 10 NBA Conference Finals series, but have 17 NBA championships. While there is an inconsistency in the numbers(how can a team win more finals than semi-finals), there’s a historical context that needs to be unpacked. The NBA Conference Finals was introduced starting in the 1970-71 NBA season, due to a change in league format from divisions to conferences. As it so happens, the Boston Celtics won 11 championships before the Conference Finals were played, hence the reason why they have fewer Conference Finals wins.
Want to know how the Celtics have fared since then? Pretty good actually: they have appeared in 21 Conference Finals (2nd-most), and have won 10 Conference Finals (also 2nd-most). While their Conference Finals record isn’t as strong as their archnemesis, the Lakers (10-11 vs. 19-4), the Celtics are still tied for the most NBA championships; there’s also a debate to be had that consistently getting far in the playoffs is a feat few other franchises can replicate.
What teams have been to the NBA Conference Finals the least amount of times?
There are only two active NBA teams who have never had the pleasure of making the NBA Conference Finals: the Charlotte Hornets and the New Orleans Pelicans. Both teams have had long stints as bottom-feeders in the NBA, and while they have sporadically made the playoffs, they have never gone as far as the NBA Conference Finals.
There are 3 active NBA teams who have made the NBA Conference Finals only once: the Memphis Grizzlies, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Like the Hornets and the Pelicans, these teams have been historically underperforming teams, but their brightest moments may have been advancing as far as the NBA Conference Finals at least once in their franchise history (all three of the franchises lost in their lone Conference Finals appearances).
What teams have never won an NBA Conference Finals?
Alongside the Grizzlies, the Timberwolves, and the Clippers, there are three more teams who have never won an NBA Conference Finals (technically, teams like the Hornets and the Pelicans should be included but they have never qualified for this round anyways). The Sacramento Kings, the Denver Nuggets, and the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks and the Kings have 2 appearances each, while the Nuggets have a painful 4 appearances without a win. While these franchises have had periods of success, they have never been able to elevate their performance and earn themselves a ticket to the NBA Conference Finals.
Who are the reigning NBA Conference Finals winners?
In the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the NBA Conference Finals featured the following matchups: in the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors faced the Dallas Mavericks while in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics went up against the Miami Heat. The Warriors won the Western Conference Finals 4-1, with Stephen Curry winning the Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP award. The Boston Celtics triumphed 4-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals, with Jayson Tatum winning the Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP award. In the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors beat the Boston Celtics, meaning that the Western Conference ruled supreme at the culmination of the 2021/22 NBA season.
Only 4 out of the total 30 NBA teams can appear in the NBA Conference Finals in any given season. The Los Angeles Lakers have had the good fortune (no doubt hard work has played a significant role) of consistently appearing in the NBA Conference Finals. But the competitive parity in the league means that no team should ever assume that they have an automatic ticket to the later rounds of the playoffs; with each passing year, teams who haven’t had the chance to get as far get hungrier by the day, and the historically successful teams should remember that the present is what matters. For fans, this is truly what makes basketball great.