- 1996 NBA Playoffs
NBA Playoffswas the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1995-1996 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Chicago Bullswinning their first NBA championship in three years by defeating the Western Conference champion Seattle SuperSonicsfour games to two.
By capturing their fourth championship, the Bulls put a cap on what many consider the greatest season in NBA history, as they finished a record 72-10 in the regular season, eclipsing the 1971-72
Los Angeles Lakers' record of 69-13. It was also redemption for Jordan after his first return to the playoffs the previous year and the Bulls' disappointing second-round loss to Orlando, a team that would go on to be swept in the NBA Finals. With Jordan leading the way, this year's Bulls would sweep the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals, winning the four games by an average of 17 points, en route to an unprecedented combined record of 87-13 in regular season and postseason play.
For the SuperSonics, it was their first trip to the NBA Finals since winning the championship in 1979, and helped vindicate them as well after their startling first-round loss to the
Denver Nuggetstwo years previous (the first time an eighth-seeded team had defeated a top seed in the playoffs).
This was the
Sacramento Kingsfirst playoff appearance since 1986.
As for the two-time defending NBA champion
Houston Rockets, their quest for a three-peat was thwarted by the eventual Western Conference champion Supersonics. The Supersonics swept the Rockets 4-0 in the Western conference semifinals.
Best record in conference
Seattle SuperSonicsclinched the best record in the Western Conference, and had home court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.
Clinched a playoff berth
The following teams clinched a playoff berth in the West:
Seattle SuperSonics(clinched Pacific division)
San Antonio Spurs(clinched Midwest division)
Los Angeles Lakers
Houston Rockets2-time defending NBA Champions
Portland Trail Blazers
Best record in NBA
Chicago Bullsclinched the best record in the NBA, and earned home court advantage throughout the entire playoffs.
Clinched a playoff berth
The following teams clinched a playoff berth in the East:
Chicago Bulls(clinched Central division)
Orlando Magic(clinched Atlantic division)
New York Knicks
* For the fourth straight postseason, both #5 seeds beat their #4 seeded opponent in the first round.
Seattle SuperSonicsvs. (8) Sacramento Kings *Required overtime
San Antonio Spursvs. (7) Phoenix Suns
Seattle SuperSonicsvs. (3) Utah Jazz
Indiana Pacersvs. (6) Atlanta Hawks *Required overtime
Orlando Magicvs. (6) Atlanta Hawks
* [http://www.basketball-reference.com/playoffs/NBA_1996.html Basketball-Reference.com's 1996 Playoffs section]
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