2020 NBA Finals | Lakers vs. Heat

How long has it been since each team last made The Finals?

How long since each team last made a Finals?

From NBA.com Staff

The Los Angeles Lakers are headed to the NBA’s championship stage for the first time in a while.

Los Angeles clinched its 32nd Finals trip as a franchise with their 117-107 win in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets. In doing so, they have put an end to the longest Finals drought in franchise history (10 years) as the Lakers had never gone longer than nine years between Finals berths (1991-2000).

Fittingly, they will take on the Miami Heat in the 2020 Finals, a team that is ending a mini-drought of their own after defeating the Boston Celtics 125-113 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. Miami last made The Finals in 2014, when it was lead to that perch by current Lakers star LeBron James. As for the Celtics, they will enter 2020-21 with a 10-year gap between Finals appearances.

The Lakers being in The Finals got us thinking — and researching — exactly how long it has been between championship round appearances for every NBA team.

The Sacramento Kings’ franchise has gone the longest since it last was in The Finals (69 years, when it made it as the Rochester Royals in 1951). Conversely, the Golden State Warriors (1 year), Toronto Raptors (1 year), Cleveland Cavaliers (2 years), San Antonio Spurs (6 years) and Oklahoma City Thunder (8 years) have logged the fewest years between appearances, now that Miami is off the list.

Here’s a quick look at how long it has been since each team that has made at least one Finals has appeared in one …

(Note: Six franchises — the Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans — have never reached The Finals. They are noted below with a N/A.)

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Team First Finals appearance Last Finals appearance Current drought (years)
Atlanta Hawks 1957 ^ 1961 ^ 59
Boston Celtics 1957 2010 10
Brooklyn Nets 2002 ^^ 2003 ^^ 17
Charlotte Hornets N/A N/A N/A
Chicago Bulls 1991 1998 22
Cleveland Cavaliers 2007 2018 2
Dallas Mavericks 2006 2011 9
Denver Nuggets N/A N/A N/A
Detroit Pistons 1988 2005 15
Golden State Warriors 1948 2019 1
Houston Rockets 1994 1995 25
Indiana Pacers 2000 2000 20
Los Angeles Lakers 1949 ^^^ 2020
LA Clippers N/A N/A N/A
Memphis Grizzlies N/A N/A N/A
Miami Heat 2006 2020
Milwaukee Bucks 1971 1974 46
Minnesota Timberwolves N/A N/A N/A
New Orleans Pelicans N/A N/A N/A
New York Knicks 1951 1999 21
Oklahoma City Thunder 1978 * 2012 8
Orlando Magic 1995 2009 11
Philadelphia 76ers 1950 ** 2001 19
Phoenix Suns 1976 1993 27
Portland Trail Blazers 1977 1992 28
Sacramento Kings 1951 *** 1951 *** 69
San Antonio Spurs 1999 2014 6
Toronto Raptors 2019 2019 1
Utah Jazz 1997 1998 22
Washington Wizards 1970 **** 1979 41

^ = franchise located in St. Louis

^^ = franchise located in New Jersey

^^^ = franchise known as Minneapolis Lakers

* = franchise known as Seattle SuperSonics

** = franchise known as Syracuse Nationals

*** = franchise known as Rochester Royals

**** = franchise known as Baltimore Bullets

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