NBA Playoffs 2011: The Greatest Playoff Run in the History of Each Franchise

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent IMay 20, 2011

NBA Playoffs 2011: The Greatest Playoff Run in the History of Each Franchise

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The 2011 NBA Playoffs have been one of the most memorable in recent seasons.

    We've seen just about everything in these playoffs, including Dirk Nowitzki's memorable Game 1 performance in the Western Conference Finals that will be talked about through the beginning of next season.

    Does 2011 mark the most magical run for the Mavs?

    Let's walk through the greatest playoff runs in each team's history. 

Atlanta Hawks: 1958

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    It's been a very long time since the magic returned for the Hawks.

    After being bounced from the postseason yet again in 2011, it's now been 53 years since the team won the NBA Championship.

    Their logo has come a long way, but apparently their success hasn't followed. 

Boston Celtics: 1986

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    The 1986 Celtics team is widely thought of as the most dominant team of the 1980s.

    Just one look at the picture here should show you exactly why: Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Bill Walton, Robert Parish, and Dennis Johnson. 

Charlotte Bobcats: 2010

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The history of the Charlotte franchise is rather short, and their sole playoff appearance came thanks to the play of Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson.

    Now, the former plays for Portland and the latter is rumored to be on the trade block, and this team is still a ways away from attaining success. 

Chicago Bulls: 1996

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    Nobody was going to take down the 1996 Bulls team.

    72-10 regular season, a record which still stands, the team then went 15-3 in the postseason and easily attained the title. 

    The Bulls averaged 105.2 points per game that season while only allowing 92.9 points by the opposition.

Cleveland Cavaliers: 2007

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Cavs fans are certainly going to hate to see this picture, but LeBron put the team on his shoulders and came closer to a championship for that city than they have in a long time.

    People should remember this performance, since the team isn't likely to sniff the postseason again for a while. 

Dallas Mavericks: 2006

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    This Dirk Nowitzki-led crew of characters had much less talent than his current club roster, but they were still able to make it all the way to the finals.

    The fans in Big D are very hopeful that the outcome in 2011 will make the bitter memories of 2006 fade away. 

Denver Nuggets: 2009

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Nuggets might have improved their team for the future with the trade of Carmelo Anthony, but there's no denying that the superstar did some good things for the team throughout his tenure.

    A couple of seasons ago, the Nuggets nearly shocked the world before ultimately coming up short in an unlikely postseason run. 

Detroit Pistons: 1989

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    It seems like year after year, the Pistons find themselves in the lottery, but it hasn't always been that way.

    The 1989 Detroit Pistons, one of the tougher teams in NBA history, provided the blueprint of how basketball should be played in Motown. 

Golden State Warriors: 1975

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    The Golden State Warriors completed their unlikely playoff run with an impressive sweep over the Washington Bullets.

    Rick Barry was the MVP of the Finals, as he led the team to its greatest prominence that the franchise has ever seen. 

Houston Rockets: 1995

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    There were a couple of seasons in the early-mid 1990s that weren't completely dominated by the Chicago Bulls, and the Houston Rockets took full advantage.

    Maybe the team should go back to the retro look so they can enjoy some similar success. 

Indiana Pacers: 2000

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    Reggie Miller was one happy man when the Pacers were crowned Eastern Conference Champions in 2000, because he finally had a chance to win it all.

    Unfortunately for the three-point sniper, the Lakers ruined his hopes when they triumphed in the final round in six games. 

    But I'm pretty sure the best part about this postseason run was the critical role that Travis Best played, a personal favorite of mine. 

Los Angeles Clippers: 2006

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    Elton Brand was the driving force that made the Clippers go in 2006 as the team surged into the postseason and found some initial success.

    It was truly a miracle season for the "other" club in Los Angeles, because they haven't experienced any type of similar success since. 

Los Angeles Lakers: 2001

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    This team has had some memorable postseason runs, but this was one of the most dominating performances that I've ever witnessed.

    They swept their three opponents in the first few rounds of the playoffs before knocking out the Sixers four games to one and easily coming away with their second straight championship. 

Memphis Grizzlies: 2011

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Grizzlies entered this year's postseason with a franchise record of 0-12 in the playoffs, so anything that they did this year was going to qualify automatically.

    Not only did they knock off the top-seeded Spurs, but they took a very dangerous Thunder team to seven extraordinarily competitive games and exceeded just about anybody's expectations. 

Miami Heat: 2006

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    The Miami Heat brought Shaquille O'Neal into town to win a championship alongside Dwyane Wade, and he delivered one to Alonzo Mourning in the process.

    There's something that was very special about the bond that was shared on this team, as they seemingly defined the term "team chemistry."

Milwaukee Bucks: 1971

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    The Bucks haven't found the same magic that they were able to capture in the early 1970s, and perhaps it's because they haven't located a suitable replacement for No. 33. 

    The worst part about the plight of the Milwaukee franchise is that they continue to toil in essentially a constant state of mediocrity. 

Minnesota Timberwolves: 2004

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    Remember when the Timberwolves weren't automatically penciled into the bottom of the standings in the Western Conference? 

    This team was a powerhouse in the Western Conference, and nobody could stop a Kevin Garnett in his prime.

    The Wolves surrounded him with proven veteran production and leadership and actually built a team that could win together.

    Maybe the front office should give their former bosses a call. 

New Jersey Nets: 2002

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    The 2002 Nets featured a healthy Kenyon Martin fresh out of the University of Cincinnati, and he was eager to prove that he was worthy of the No. 1 selection.

    He was an integral contributor on a playoff team that attempted to go for it all, but ultimately fell well short of their goal. 

New Orleans Hornets: 2008

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Before the Hornets were a financial mess and controlled by the NBA, they were a power in the Western Conference that was a legitimate threat for the championship.

    Times have certainly changed in a short amount of time, and it seems that this franchise may not take the necessary steps forward to keep CP3 in town. 

New York Knicks: 1973

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    The New York Knicks team in 1973 was one of the most prolific that the NBA will ever see.

    And for those that are interested in funny pictures, take a special look at No. 18 two spots over from the left. 

Oklahoma City Thunder: 1979

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    The Oklahoma City Thunder have a chance to supplant the Sonics on this slide if they can advance past the Mavericks this year, but for now the 1979 Sonics reign supreme.

    The team captured the championship in what was easily the most dominant campaign of the franchise's history. 

Orlando Magic: 2009

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Dwight Howard got a chance to sniff the NBA title, but his Magic team fell at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers and kept the big man frustrated.

    Now that his team appears to be moving in the wrong direction, Superman may want to choose to join the former champs rather than try and beat 'em. 

Philadelphia 76ers: 1967

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    The Sixers are certainly moving in the right direction, but it may be a short while before the team can even compete for its next championship.

    This 1967 team set the tone for what successful basketball looked like in the NBA, and I think every reader can give one obvious guess as to why. 

Phoenix Suns: 1993

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    Despite the Suns coming up short in the championship to the Chicago Bulls in 1993, Charles Barkley was in his prime and kept this Suns team from getting blown out of the water.

    It was a very impressive postseason performance by a team that simply met its match in the finals when they had to go against the Bulls. 

Portland Trail Blazers: 1977

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    The Portland Trail Blazers haven't even been considered a contender for the championship since the days of Arvydas Sabonis, and it was a long time before that when they were actually considered dangerous.

    In 1977, Bill Walton took over for this team and ripped through the rest of the opposition.  

Sacramento Kings: 1951

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    The best postseason run for the Sacramento Kings was when they were still the Rochester Royals back in 1951.

    Now that the team doesn't have to revert back to its old name, perhaps they can make their stamp in history as the capital city's Kings. 

San Antonio Spurs: 1999

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    Tim Duncan and David Robinson dominated the front line like no other big-man pairing have in their prime, and that was the major reason why the Spurs came away with the 1999 title.

    It was a good era for the San Antonio franchise that now faces a very different time in its history. 

Toronto Raptors: 2001

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    If for no other reason than because of Charles Oakley's memorable purple headband in 2001, this Raptors team defined postseason success for a franchise that really lacks it.

    It'd be nice to see the lone Canadian franchise in the NBA be a little more successful, but it's been tough sledding since the days of Vince Carter. 

Utah Jazz: 1997

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    If that picture doesn't define the Utah Jazz during the 1997 season, then I'm not sure what would.

    This team gave it their all before being eliminated from contention, and it's too bad considering that they lost in back-to-back seasons to the Chicago Bulls, preventing the Mailman from ever winning a ring. 

Washington Wizards: 1978

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    Another franchise that we need to turn the clock back on in order to find the most prolific postseason, the Wizards haven't enjoyed success like this 1978 Bullets team did.

    The Dick Motta-led team defeated the Seattle Sonics in the NBA Finals that season in seven games in what was one of the most awesome series that I've ever had the pleasure of viewing.