NBA

Largest Margins of Victory in NBA Playoff History

Some playoff games have ended in lopsided scores. These are the five biggest defeats in NBA postseason history

Largest margins of victory in NBA playoff history originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The NBA playoffs are supposed to be high in intensity and close in scoring.

But on Wednesday night, the Golden State Warriors suffered an embarrassing 134-95 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 5. 

Memphis did not have star guard Ja Morant and faced elimination with a loss, but the Grizzlies instead whooped that trick with a 39-point win, including a 55-point lead at one point in the second half. 

Though the Warriors avoided the wrong kind of history, this game will be remembered due to the lopsided score and raises the question of the largest margins of victory in the NBA playoffs. Here are the five biggest:

What is the largest margin of victory in NBA playoff history?

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T-1. 58 - Denver Nuggets at New Orleans Hornets, April 27, 2009

In the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs, Denver took on the then-New Orleans Hornets on the road in Game 5. The Nuggets needed one more win to advance to the next round – they did not waste time. 

Denver won 121-63 in a game where New Orleans’ highest-scoring quarter was 24. The Hornets did not eclipse 15 points in the other three quarters. David West led the team with 14 points. The Nuggets, on the other hand, had seven scorers hit double-digit points with Carmelo Anthony’s 26 leading the way.

T-1. 58 - St. Louis Hawks at Minneapolis Lakers, March 19, 1956

Before the Nuggets in 2009, the Minneapolis Lakers held the record. In Game 2 of the division semifinals in the Western Conference (best-of-three series), the Lakers blew out the Hawks 133-75. Bob Pettit led St. Louis with 14 points while Jack Steffens added 13 to round out the team’s double-digit scorers. 

Minneapolis, however, was on a different level. Ten players logged minutes in that game and every single one scored at least 10 points. Slater Martin’s 19 led the way. The Hawks showed incredible resilience, though, as they took Game 3 116-115 to advance to the division finals. 

3. 56 - Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors, April 21, 1973

The Warriors’ Game 5 loss to Memphis didn’t make the cut, but this one did. In Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, Los Angeles demolished Golden State 126-70. Rick Barry was the only double-digit scorer for the Warriors with 10 points.

The Lakers had five players reach double-figures, with Jim McMillan’s 28 pioneering the blowout. Star center Wilt Chamberlain scored just 12 points but hoarded 25 rebounds. Los Angeles went on to win the series 4-1 before falling to the New York Knicks in the final. 

4. 54 - Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks, April 30, 2015

This was the most recent lopsided playoff blowout, which happened in the first round in the Eastern Conference between the Bulls and Bucks. Chicago won 120-66 in a game in which Milwaukee never scored more than 19 points in a quarter. All of Chicago’s starters hit double-figures, with Mike Dunleavy’s 20 points being a game-high.

But for the Bucks, not one player mustered at least 10 points. Zaza Pachulia scored eight. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton combined for 11 points, but they were completely different players back then. At least those two managed to win a title down the line to erase the memory of this loss. 

5. 50 - San Francisco Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks, April 4, 1971

The Warriors and Bucks each make another appearance on this list, but Milwaukee had the better fortune this time around. In Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals before Milwaukee changed conferences, the Bucks routed the Warriors 136-86 to advance to the conference finals. 

San Francisco had four players in double-digits but none had more than 13 (Ron Williams). For Milwaukee, Jon McGlocklin led the way with 28 points while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar added 23. This Bucks team went on to win the title in a 4-0 sweep over the Baltimore Bullets. This was definitely an impressive win to add to their playoff resume from that championship run.

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