What Teams With Losing Records Have Made the NBA Playoffs?
The NBA Playoffs are the pinnacle of every postseason, bringing together the very best teams from the past year. However, not all teams that make it to the postseason have winning regular season records. In fact, since the field was expanded to 16 teams in 1984, 47 different NBA teams have made it to the Playoffs despite having a losing record. Discussed below are the most recent teams with losing records to make the NBA Playoffs.
2021-2022 New Orleans Pelicans
The 2021-2022 season for the New Orleans Pelicans was a rough one, ending with a 36-46 (.439) record. The team had just lost their head coach Stan Van Gundy and replaced him with former NBA player Willie Green. Though they lost their few games at home and only won one of their first three away games, the Pelicans started to pick up some steam and were ultimately able to beat the Spurs and the Clippers in the Play-In tournament, assuring their spot in the NBA Playoffs. Unfortunately, the New Orleans team was quickly defeated by the Phoenix Suns, losing 2-4 in the first round of the Eastern Conference.
2020-2021 Washington Wizards
The 2020-2021 Washington Wizards made the playoffs with a 34-38 (.472) record in the regular season. They made the Play-In tournament, where they beat the Indiana Pacers for a spot in the postseason. The Wizards lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Philadelphia 76ers, only winning one game in the series.
2019-2020 Orlando Magic
The 2019-2020 Orlando Magic were able to make it to the NBA Playoffs despite only having a 33-40 (.452) record. After a subpar and then delayed end to the season (due to the COVID-19 epidemic), the Magic were one of 22 teams invited to compete at the NBA Bubble in Orlando, Florida. Thanks to some impressive play and a loss by the Washington Wizards, the Orlando team was able to make it to the 2020 Playoffs. Unfortunately, they did not make it past the first round of the Eastern Conference and were defeated 1-4 by the Milwaukee Bucks.
2019-2020 Brooklyn Nets
The 2019-2020 Brooklyn Nets made the NBA Playoffs with a regular season record of 35-37 (.486). The team featured superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, along with Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie. Unfortunately, Nets star Kevin Durant was out for the entire season with an achilles injury. Even though the Nets were able to make the playoffs, they did not make it out of the first round. They were swept in four games in the Eastern Conference First Round by the Toronto Raptors.
2019-2020 Portland Trail Blazers
The 2019-2020 Portland Trail Blazers somehow made the NBA Playoffs despite a regular season record of 35-39 (.473). Though they had a rough season leading into the pause caused by the COVID epidemic, the Blazers were another one of 22 teams invited to compete in eight games at the NBA Bubble. During that unique Play-In tournament, they were able to get an 8th seed spot by defeating the Memphis Grizzlies. Like many teams to make it to the playoffs with losing records, the Blazers were snuffed out in the first round of their conference, losing 1-4 to the Los Angeles Lakers.
What is the worst team ever to make NBA Playoffs?
The 1953 Baltimore Bullets hold the record for the worst team to make the NBA Playoffs, with a measly 16-54 record. The only team in the league with a worse record were the Philadelphia Warriors with a 12-57 record. Back then, only five teams were in each of the two divisions, with the top four teams in each division making the playoffs. This means 80% of the teams in the league made the playoffs, whereas today only 53.3% of teams make it to the postseason.