The 7 Best NBA Teams in Playoff History: Overtime Edition

source - RMTip21, Flickr

Source: RMTip21, Flickr

It’s in the bleary eyes and the struggle-filled mornings, with NBA fans clutching coffees like children or lifelines. The 2014 NBA playoffs have been very, very into overtime. Overtime is the new black. So far we’ve seen eight games in the first round that have gone beyond regulation — three from Portland/Houston, four from Oklahoma City/Memphis, and one from Washington/Chicago, which saw the Wizards win the second of what would be a 4-1 series victory over the Bulls. As of Tuesday night, the Grizzlies/Thunder series has officially broken an NBA record, with four OT’s in five games becoming the most overtime a series have ever seen.

This is awesome. For residents of the East coast — or anyone further West that has a job that bleeds into their afternoons — it’s exhausting, but worth it. The playoffs are the swan song of the NBA season — more basketball at the highest level. But which franchises have played the best, historically, in overtime games?

In order to look this up, we consulted the ever-useful, then checked out which franchises were the winningest teams in overtime games over the league’s history — 1946 to 2014. What we found was pretty wild, and without further delay, here are the seven winningest franchises when it comes to overtime and the playoffs.

Photo Courtesy of Deigostefano97, licensed through Wikipedia Commons

Source: Deigostefano97, licensed through Wikipedia Commons

5. Chicago Bulls, Seattlahoma ThunderSonics, New York Knicks — 10 Wins

And we begin our story with a three-way tie for last place. Here’s a fun fact that might win you a drink somewhere — Michael Jordan’s Bulls won exactly the same number of overtime playoff games as Derrick Rose’s. That’s a true statement. Of the Bulls’ ten OT victories in the postseason, Jordan was rostered for four of them — in ’89, ’91, ’95 and ’98. Rose, meanwhile, first emerged in that epic 2009 playoff series between the Celtics and Chicago, helping the team to three overtime wins. He was also, regrettably, on the bench when the Bulls had their triple-overtime victory against the Brooklyn Nets last year.

The Sonics are responsible for eight of the franchise’s ten total overtime winners, stretching from 1979 until 1996. Since moving to OKC, the now-Thunder have won two more — Saturday’s 92-89 W over the Grizzlies and the epic triple overtime battle between the two teams in 2011 (footage below). Those two teams have seen their playoff games against each other go beyond regulation seven times since 2011. The Grizzlies hold a 5-2 lead in that series.

As for the Knicks? They haven’t won an overtime game in the playoffs since 1996, with most of their success coming in the early ’70s and early ’90s. The last great Knick to win an OT game was Patrick Ewing (and it was over the Bulls, but Knicks fans almost certainly knew that). Patrick Ewing has been retired for more than twelve years. You are old.



4. San Antonio Spurs — 11 Wins

Currently locked into a close battle with the Dallas Mavericks (a 2-2 series that has seen a pair of game-winning go-ahead baskets from Vince Carter and Boris Diaw, respectively), the San Antonio Spurs have won their fair share of playoff games. It comes with the territory, having won four championships and all. If anything San Antonio’s eleven wins in overtime feels low. While, unsurprisingly, a majority of the games have come on the Duncan-era squads, the three that predate Timmy Dunks (from ’83, ’93′ and ’95) featured George “Iceman” Gervin in a win over Denver, David Robinson and Avery Johnson taking it to Clyde Drexler and the Blazers, and that same squad, plus Dennis Rodman and Vinny Del Negro, beating the Lakers.

source -- jennypdx, Flickr

Source: jennypdx, Flickr

3. Portland Trail Blazers — 12 Wins

Before the team won a pair of overtime games against the Houston Rockets in the first round this year, the long-suffering Portland Trail Blazers fans would’ve had to look all the way back to 1996 for their last OT win in the playoffs — a game that saw Rod Strickland play a team high 45 minutes. Not exactly the most exciting memory, although if you could remember all the way back to 1992, you’d know that their thrilling 11-point overtime victory over the Bulls in Game 2 of the NBA Finals was pretty phenomenal. To celebrate, here’s Clyde Drexler, dunking:

Photo Courtesy of Eric Kilby, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

Source: Eric Kilby, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

2. Boston Celtics –20 Wins

From 1966 onward, the Boston Celtics have won almost as many overtime playoff games as they have championships. With three wins in the ’50s, three more in the ’60s, one in the ’70s, seven in the ’80s, a pair of lonely W’s in the ’90s and pre-Big Ticket 2000s, as well as five with KG, Ray Allen, and The Truth, the Celtics have been on the winning side of extra innings in almost every era of the NBA’s slow march towards global recognition. It’s part of the reason they remain a marquee franchise, despite being outside one of the mega-markets in the country.

Photo courtesy of Samantha Celera, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

Source: Samantha Celera, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

1. Los Angeles Lakers — 24 Wins

The Celtics cede one battle to the Lakers in their determination of which franchise is the greatest of all time (so far, the Lakers are behind one championship and trail the C’s 157-197 in the lifetime record between the two teams), as the Lakers have racked up twenty-four overtime victories in the playoffs (nineteen of which came since the team moved from Minnesota to Los Angeles). Similarly to the Celtics, the Lakers have racked up at least one thrilling, post-regulation playoff wins in every decade except this one (the 2010s) since 1952. No joke. To see all the Lakers wins, as well as a power playoff info search tool, check out Basketball — make sure to click ‘Show/Hide Search Form’ in order to bring up the search parameters.