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If the Hawks beat the Pacers, would Atlanta be the worst team to win a playoff series?

Apr 26, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

Paul Millsap, Paul George Paul Millsap, Paul George

Nobody should be terribly surprised the Pacers are struggling in the playoffs. After all, the they faded the final two months of the season, going 12-13 in March and April.

But few predicted they’d lose in the first round.

That’s because their opponent – the Hawks – stinks.

As much as everyone fussed about Indiana’s late-season slump, Atlanta went the exact same 12-13 in the final two months. And before that, the Hawks (26-31) couldn’t even hold a candle to the Pacers (44-13).

When the Pacers were at their worst, the Hawks matched them. When the Pacers were at their best, the Hawks were worse than Indiana’s closing two months.

Add it all up, and Atlanta went 38-44.

Yet, the Hawks are up 2-1 in the series with a home Game 4 this afternoon. If they hold on, they’d be the worst team to win a playoff since series since the NBA expanded its postseason to 16 teams in 1984.

Collectively, teams that have gone 38-44 or worse were 13-64 (.169) in playoff games in the current format. That’s worse than the this season’s Milwaukee Bucks.

Only one losing team has won a playoff series since 1984 – the 1987 Seattle SuperSonics (39-43) – and they actually won two, topping the Dallas Mavericks (55-27) and Houston Rockets (42-40).

All time, the Hawks would be the 10th-worst team to win a playoff series

1. 1960: No. 3 Minneapolis Lakers (25-50) def. No. 2 Detroit Pistons (30-45)

2. 1976: No. 5 Detroit Pistons (36-46) def. No. 4 Milwaukee Bucks (38-44)

3. 1966: No. 3 St. Louis Hawks (36-44) def. No. 2 Baltimore Bullets (38-42)

4. 1961: No. 2 Los Angeles Lakers (36-43) def. No. 3 Detroit Pistons (34-45)

5. 1959: No. 2 Minneapolis Lakers (33-39) def. No. 1 St. Louis Hawks (49-23)

5. 1959: No. 2 Minneapolis Lakers (33-39) def. No. 3 Detroit Pistons (28-44)

5. 1958: No. 2 Detroit Pistons (33-39) def. No. 3 Cincinnati Royals (33-39)

8. 1965: No. 3 Baltimore Bullets (37-43) def. No. 2 St. Louis Hawks (45-35)

8. 1962: No. 3 Detroit Pistons (37-43) def. No. 2 Cincinnati Royals (43-37)

However, most of the teams on that list beat opponents that also had losing records. Heck, a few of those series weren’t even upsets.

The Hawks, on the other hand, are playing an Indiana team that went 56-26. Even if the Pacers are limping to the finish, that 18-win difference is stark.

If the Hawks win, it would be the fifth-biggest upset by win-percentage difference ever.

1. 2007: No. 8 Golden State Warriors (42-40) def. No. 1 Dallas Mavericks (67-15)

2. 1994: No. 8 Denver Nuggets (42-40) def. No. 1 Seattle SuperSonics (63-19)

3. 2012: No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers (35-31) def. No. 1 Chicago Bulls (50-16)

4. 1959: No. 2 Minneapolis Lakers (33-39) def. No. 1 St. Louis Hawks (49-23)

So, this would be a fairly historic upset if Atlanta pulls it off.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it.

  1. 00maltliquor - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:13 PM


    …if IND beat ATL, would they be the worst team to win a playoff series?

    • adoombray - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      Ball don’t lie. Maybe Indy just isn’t very good.

  2. bhunter1995 - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Indiana sucks its painful to watch them, they need to make moves this offseason, getting a good center should be priority #1 then try to find a guy who can score from the wing to back up PG cause he is not a franchise player, at least not yet.

  3. pacersfan1 - Apr 26, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    This series is pretty much going the same way last year went. Hawks won game1 pacers won game 2 hawks won game 3. And today pacers win game 4. And just like last year pacers will win at home and close it out in 6. Exactly like last year only difference is pacers are a number one seed and not a three. And as for Indiana not being that good. I don’t see the heat killing the bobcats and they are the NBA gold standard. GO! PACERS!

  4. realfootballfan - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    I really can’t think of a worse team honestly, and I mean that record wise and how they play because it’s absolutely nothing special about that team that should be giving the Pacers fits like they have been.

  5. bhunter1995 - Apr 27, 2014 at 12:09 AM

    You aren’t taking into consideration the fact that the Hawks were a better team last year and the Pacers were supposed to be getting better this year with the growth of several young players and the acquisition of Scola, Watson and Copeland, the Pacers were supposed to be clear cut title contenders this year while last year they were projected by most to lose to the Knicks in the second round. Clear title contdenders don’t struggle with 30 win teams, its painful to watch them because they were supposed to be an excellent team and now they look like a team destined for a second round exit. I don’t think they will lose to the Hawks but it shouldn’t be a struggle to beat them to begin with, and against a hot Wizards team playing with confidence they might lose. If they play the Bulls they will probably win, they matchup well against the Bulls but the Wizards might be a problem.

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