On Saturday, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Brooklyn Nets 112-95 becoming the fastest team in NBA history to clinch a playoff spot. The Dubs topped their own record by two days set last season when the team won 73 games.
It is nice to secure a postseason berth in February but the Warriors are focused on one thing, the NBA championship. However, becoming the first team to clinch a playoff spot is no guarantee of a title.
History shows us that the first team to lock up a postseason trip rarely wins the championship. In the last 15 years, the team to clinch a playoff spot first has won the title just twice.
Of course the two-conference setup in the NBA could help explain why the first team to clinch a playoff berth has only made three Finals trip in the last 15 years. Of the 15 teams to clinch a playoff berth the fastest, 12 are from the East. The Western conference has been stronger during this time frame making it harder for a team out West to clinch the quickest.
Another reason the first teams to clinch playoff spots don’t win the title is that typically there is more than a month of basketball left to be played when the team punches their playoff ticket. A lot can happen in roughly 20 games like players getting injured (Kevin Durant: knee) or other teams surpassing them in the standing for better seeding.
The Warriors are no flukes. Golden State is gunning for a third straight Finals trip and barring a major setback will be the favorites to win the ring. Yet being the first team to clinch a playoff spot is no guarantee of a title.
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First Team to Clinch Playoff Spot
|2016||Warriors||Lost NBA Finals|
|2015||Hawks||Lost Conference Finals|
|2014||Pacers||Lost Conference Finals|
|2012||Bulls||Lost First Round|
|2011||Celtics||Lost Conference Semifinals|
|2010||Cavs||Lost Conference Semifinals|
|2009||Cavs||Lost Conference Finals|
|2009||Celtics||Lost Conference Semifinals|
|2007||Mavericks||Lost First Round|
|2006||Pistons||Lost Conference Finals|
|2005||Heat||Lost Conference Finals|
|2004||Pacers||Lost Conference Finals|
|2003||Mavericks||Lost Conference Finals|