Can You Name the Losing Team of These NBA Playoff Series?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

At the end of every regular season, 16 NBA teams head to the playoffs with visions of ultimate glory in mind. Only one of those squads will come away with a ring ... the rest of those men will have all summer to think about how they failed. What do you know about the teams that came up short in the NBA postseason?

In the 1980 NBA Finals, Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sprained his ankle and couldn't play, and the Philadelphia 76ers began licking their chops, sure that they'd make quick work of L.A. But a guy named Magic Johnson filled in for Jabbar and did amazingly well, and the West Coast stalwarts won the title in six games. Can you name any other teams that maybe should've won it all, but didn't?

In the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics were showing their age against the youthful Pistons. With just moments to play in game five and the Celtics trailing, Larry Bird intercepted a pass, whisked it to Dennis Johnson, who made a layup good for a one-point lead ... with just 1 second remaining, and the Pistons were goners.

Let's see if you can shoot to win in this very tough NBA quiz. Maybe you know the famous losers of the postseason, or maybe just like them, you'd be better off riding the pine!

Which team lost to the star-laden Golden State Warriors in the Finals of the 2017 NBA playoffs?

LeBron James and his band of not-so-merry Cavs were totally outgunned in the 2017 Finals. Cleveland won just a single game in the series.


In the first round of the 2016 playoffs, which team lost all four games to the Cavaliers?

Sure the Pistons made the playoffs ... but to what end? They were swept in humiliating fashion by the Cavaliers, which were en route to a historic postseasons performance.


In the first round of the 2017 playoffs, LeBron James’ Cavaliers defeated which team?

Before Kyrie Irving joined the Celtics, he played for the Cavaliers ... and the Cavs beat the Celtics in the first round of the 2017 playoffs.


In the 2008 NBA Finals, the Celtics stomped which team 4-2?

Paul Pierce led the Celtics to the Finals, where they beat their old nemeses, the Lakers. Pierce was named MVP of the series.


Which team lost to the top-seeded Warriors in the first round of the 2016 playoffs?

The Rockets were seeded eighth when they laid down for the Warriors in 2016. The won a single game and then folded to Steph Curry and his sharp-shooting teammates.


Which team lost to Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the 1998 Finals?

Karl Malone and John Stockton, from the Utah Jazz, put up a good fight by winning two games in the ‘98 Finals. In Game 6, Jordan hit a game-winning shot after a hard crossover dribble and the Bulls won the title.


In the ‘96 playoffs, which team lost to the Bulls in the Finals?

Back when Seattle had an NBA team, the Supersonics were actually pretty good — but not good enough to take down Jordan’s Bulls. Chicago won the series 4-2 and Jordan took home his fourth Finals MVP award.


In the 2016 Western Conference finals, which team nearly knocked off the Warriors?

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook nearly upset the Warriors. But Steph Curry and Co. were simply unbeatable in the Western Conference finals.


True or false, did the Boston Celtics face off against the Bulls at any point during the 1998 playoffs?

Boston was nowhere to be seen in the ‘98 postseason. However, their rivals, the Lakers, were tearing up a storm in the Western bracket and made it all the way to the conference finals.


In the 2016 Eastern Conference semifinals, the Toronto Raptors beat which team four games to three?

The Raptors faced off against the Heat in a hard-fought series but ultimately prevailed. It was their second straight win in a seven-game series — they beat the Pacers in seven in the opening round.


In the 2016 Eastern Conference finals, which team stole two games before rolling over for the Cavaliers?

The Raptors were loaded with young talent and managed to win two games versus LeBron James and the Cavs. But Cleveland triumphed in six games and went on to clash with the Warriors.


Which team was swept by the Jazz in the ‘98 Western Conference finals?

The Lakers were a three seed when they worked their way through the first two rounds. But they were no match for the Jazz, falling four games to none.


In the 2013 NBA Finals, which team lost to the Miami Heat?

The Spurs put up a valiant fight against LeBron, but couldn’t withstand the Heat. They lost 4-3.


Which team was swept by the Cavaliers in the 2015 Eastern Finals?

The Hawks were the number one seed in the Eastern Conference when they met the Cavaliers, the two seed. But the Cavaliers won the series 4-0, leading to their matchup against the Warriors.


Which team lost to the Lakers in the 2010 Finals?

The 2010 Finals featured a classic matchup between the Lakers and Celtics. The Lakers ultimately won, four games to three, giving L.A. its 16th championship.


In the 2016 Eastern Conference semifinals, which team did Cleveland squash 4-0?

Hawks fans were fed up with the Cavs by this point. For the second straight year, the Cavs swept Atlanta right out of the postseason.


During the 2011 Finals, the Dallas Mavericks beat which team?

At long last, Dirk Nowitski earned a league title when his Mavericks squad defeated the Heat, which starred LeBron James and Dwayne Wade and was heavily favored to win.


Which team lost to the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals in 2017?

In the semis, it didn’t matter whether the Rockets lost to the Spurs — either team was just going to be roadkill for the exceptional Warriors. The Rockets lost the series and were spared the humiliation that the Spurs endured in the conference finals.


In 2000, the L.A. Lakers swept the Finals by destroying the ______ four games to none.

Former Lakers star Byron Scott took his Nets up against L.A. in the Finals ... and got schooled by Phil Jackson. The Lakers swept the series to win their third straight title.


In 2017, which Eastern Conference team had the best regular-season record going into the postseason?

In 2017, the Celtics were the top seed after earning a 53-29 regular season record. But they were sorely lacking in star power, as LeBron and the Cavaliers made quick work of them in the conference finals.


In 2014, the Spurs locked down on which team in the Finals?

It looked like James and the Heat might win three consecutive titles ... until they ran into the team-oriented Spurs in the Finals. San Antonio dispatched Miami in just five games.


In 2012, which team lost to the Heat in the Finals?

Dwaye Wade, Lebron James and the Heat were unstoppable in the 2012 Finals. They beat Oklahoma City 4-1 and claimed their second league title.


In 2017, which team did Boston defeat in the conference semifinals?

In the first round, Boston beat the Bulls. Then, the Celtics edged Washington 4-3, only to find themselves sacrificed to the Cavaliers in the conference finals.


In 1986, Larry Bird and the Celtics won the Finals by downing the _____.

The Celtics beat the Rockets in six games during the ‘86 Finals. Bird won series MVP, and it would be a long, long time before Boston made it back to the title round.


In 1991, Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson won their first NBA title together by beating the ____ in the Finals.

It was the start of a dynasty, and the Lakers were just a footnote in the Finals. The Bulls won 4-1 and Jordan’s legacy began to take shape.


In 1987, Pat Riley’s Lakers beat the ____ in six games during the Finals.

In the ‘80s, the Lakers and Celtics swapped titles back and forth — and ‘87 was L.A.’s year. Riley and Magic Johnson made some sweet memories in defeating the loaded Boston squad in six games.


Which team did the Houston Rockets sweep in the ‘95 Finals?

The ‘95 Finals featured the Rocket’s Hakeem Olajuwon versus the Magic’s Shaquille O’Neal. The Magic weren’t even competitive, dropping the series in just four games.


The 2000 Finals featured two number-one seeds. The Lakers beat the _____ in six games.

Pacers head coach Larry Bird could only watch in dismay as his team fell apart against the Lakers. It ended with yet another ring for Phil Jackson.


Which team dropped the ‘97 Finals, 4-2, to the Chicago Bulls?

The Jazz never could break through against the Bulls. In both ‘97 and ‘98, they lost to Jordan’s Bulls 4-2.


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