Apr 26, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
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.
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