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List of teams that have never advanced to the NBA Finals
The NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat is ongoing and it features two franchises making their second trip to the NBA Finals and second meeting against each other in the round. In 2006, both franchises ended years of frustration by facing off in their first ever championship round series.
What other franchises are like the Heat and Mavs were before 2006, having never advanced to an NBA Finals series? Below is a list of the teams that have never advanced to the NBA's final round.
Franchise: Los Angeles Clippers (also known as the Buffalo Braves until 1978)
First Season: 1970-71
Farthest Playoff run: Game 7 of 2006 Conference Semfinals, lost to Phoenix Suns (also advanced to the same round in 1976)
Franchise: New Orleans Hornets (also known as the Charlotte Hornets until 2002)
First Season: 1988-89
Farthest Playoff run: Game 7 of 2002 and 2008 Conference Semifinals, lost to the Milwakee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs respectively (also advanced to the same round in 1993, 1998 and 2002).
Franchise: Toronto Raptors
First Season: 1995-96
Farthest Playoff run: Game 7 of the 2001 Conference Semifinals, lost to Philadelphia 76ers.
Hope for a Trip in the Near Future: Not unless they defect from the NBA and join the National Basketball League of Canada.
Franchise: Memphis Grizzlies
First Season: 1995-96 as the Vancouver Grizzlies
Farthest Playoff run: Game 7 of 2011 Conference Semifinals, lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Hope for a Trip in the Near Future: They are young, up and coming but being a small market team makes one wonder just how much talent they can hold on to.
Franchise: Minnesota Timberwolves
First Season: 1989-90
Farthest Playoff run: Game 6 of the 2004 Conference Semifinals, lost to the Los Angeles Lakers
Hope for a Trip in the Near Future: There is some young talent there and with a solid draft pick this season they may be the next OKC Thunder.
Franchise: Denver Nuggets
First Season: 1967-68 (as the Denver Rockets of the ABA); 1976-77 in the NBA
Farthest Playoff run: Game 5 of the 1985 and 2009 Conference Finals, lost to Los Angeles Lakers both times.
Hope for a Trip in the Near Future: A winning core is still together, even without Carmelo Anmthony but free agency may take a toll. Stay tuned.
-Note: The Denver Nuggets advanced to the 1976 ABA Finals, where they lost in 6 games to the New York Nets.
Franchise: Charlotte Bobcats
First Season: 2004-05
Farthest Playoff run: Game 4 of the 2010 First Round, lost to the Orlando Magic
Hope for a Trip in the Near Future: Only if Michael Jordan from 1991 steps out the time machine and comes out of retirement yet again to help a morbid franchise he's overseeing yet again.
Next, the following current NBA cities also have never hosted an NBA Finals game.
Farthest Playoff run: Game 7 of the 1979 and 1988 Conference Semfinals, lost to the Washington Bullets (now known as the Washington Wizards) and Boston Celtics respectively (also lost in the same round in 1969, '70, '86, '87, '94, '96, '97, '99, '09, '10, '11)
Last NBA Finals Appearance in franchise history: 1961 NBA Finals as the St. Louis Hawks, lost 4-1 to Boston
Hope for a Trip in the Near Future: They seemed destined to continue the historic trend of good but not elite.
Farthest Playoff run: Game 7 of the 2002 Conference Finals, lost to the Los Angeles Lakers
Last NBA Finals Appearance in franchise history: 1950-51 as the Rochester Royals, won 4-3 over the New York Knicks
Hope for a Trip in the Near Future: Probably in another city.
City: Oklahoma City
Franchise (First season in city): Oklahoma City Thunder (2008-09)
Farthest Playoff run: Game 5 of the 2011 Conference Finals, lost to the Dallas Mavericks
Last NBA Finals Appearance in franchise history: 1996 NBA Finals as the Seattle SuperSonics, lost 4-2 to the Chicago Bulls
Hope for a Trip in the Near Future: Aside from Miami, no team appears to have more NBA Finals in their future than the Thunder.
-Also note that while the Timberwolves have never advanced to the NBA Finals, the Lakers advanced to six such rounds while based in Minneapolis. The winning years are in bold (1949, '50, '52, '53, '54 and '59).
The following defunct NBA teams and cities never advanced to an NBA/BAA Finals series. Current franchises have their nicknamed bolded or are otherwise specified:
Anderson (Indiana) Packers, 1949-50
Chicago Stags, 1946-50
Charlotte Hornets, 1988-2002
*Chicago Packers, 1961-62
*Chicago Zephyrs, 1962-63
**Cincinnati Royals, 1957-72
Cleveland Rebels, 1946-47
Denver Nuggets (original), 1949-50
Detroit Falcons, 1946-47
Indianapoils Jets, 1948-49
Indianapolis Olympians, 1949-53
**Kansas City-Omaha and Kansas City Kings, 1972-75 and 1975-85
Milwaukee Hawks, 1951-55
New York Nets, 1976-77
New Orleans Jazz, 1974-79
Pittsburgh Ironmen, 1946-47
Providence Steamrollers, 1946-49
San Diego Rockets, 1967-71
San Diego Clippers, 1978-84
Shoboygan Red Skins, 1949-50
St. Louis Bombers, 1946-50
Toronto Huskies, 1946-47
***Tri-Cities Blackhawks, 1946-51
Washington Capitols, 1946-51
****Waterloo Hawks, 1949-50
*The first two seasons (and names) of the Washington Wizards.
**Earlier incarnations of the Sacramento Kings.
***The Tri-Cities was a reference to Davenport, Iowa; Rock Island, Illinois and Moline Illinois, which along with East Moline are what are known today as the Quad Cities.
****Not affilated with the Atlanta Hawks.
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