Oklahoma City Thunder: Does April matter?
Of the four NBA teams considered championship caliber, only the Spurs have played at a high level in April. San Antonio is 6-2; the Thunder and Heat both are 5-4, while Chicago is 4-3.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich often talks about the importance of how well his team is playing going into the playoffs, how the rhythm of his team is more vital than its playoff seeding. So is it?
Let’s check it out. How have recent NBA champions and NBA finalists fared down the stretch of the regular season? I looked at the last 12 NBA seasons, going back to 2000. Five of the 12 champs played at a winning percentage above .700 in April, two had losing records and five had winning percentages between .500 and .700. Four of the 12 Finals losers played above .700 in April, three had losing records and five had winning percentages between .500 and .700.
So there is a correlation between winning down the stretch and playoff success. But there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between winning big down the stretch.
Here are the April records of the finalists the last 12 years, with the champion first:
2011: Dallas 4-3, Miami 6-1.
2010: Lakers 3-4, Boston 3-5.
2009: Lakers 7-1, Orlando 4-5.
2008: Boston 8-1, Lakers 7-1.
2007: San Antonio 6-4, Cleveland 6-3.
2006: Miami 4-7, Dallas 6-3.
2005: San Antonio 6-5, Detroit 10-1.
2004: Detroit 6-1, Lakers 5-3.
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