With the dust settled on the 2016 NBA Finals and a championship earned by the city of Cleveland, it’s clear to say that the Golden State Warriors had a much harder time during the playoffs than they didin the regular season. First, Steph Curry was hurt and had to sit a few games in the early rounds. Luckily that didn’t really change things on the court, as Golden State took care of the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers 4-1 in each series.
But a seven game series against the Oklahoma City Thunder — where, in some spooky foreshadowing, the Warriors were trailing OKC three games to one before coming back to win the series — saw the Dubs struggle for the first time all playoffs. It looked like something of an aberration, especially after the pair of blowouts that opened the Finals, but ultimately the Dubs weren’t able to to close out the series. Some food for thought: the Warriors lost nearly as many games in the NBA Playoffs (nine) as they did all regular season long.
When the Warriors went down before winning a championship, it make them one of two teams this year that were historically good but got knocked out before they ‘should have’ in the postseason. Here are a few of the other teams in NBA history that couldn’t close the deal on a championship, rated by not only regular season record but also point differential and how far they made it in the postseason before being eliminated.
6. 1995-96 Seattle SuperSonics
64-18, +7.8 point differential, lost in NBA Finals
The Sonics were led by head coach George Karl and his two studs, point guard Gary Payton and power forward Shawn Kemp. They had a bunch of solid role players on that team as well, in Hersey Hawkins, Sam Perkins, and Detlef Schrempf. They buzzed through the Western Conference in the regular season, racking up 64 victories and finishing with the number one seed in the West.
But they ran into a problem, despite their star-studded roster and high octane play—the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who set the NBA record that season with their 72-10 regular season record. The Bulls took the first three games of the NBA Finals series with the Sonics before Seattle rebounded with wins in games four and five, thanks to a tactical adjustment from Seattle that saw The Glove switched onto his Airness. Ultimately, though, the Bulls clinched their fourth championship in six seasons with an 87-75 victory behind 22 points from Michael Jordan and 19 rebounds from Dennis Rodman.