The Lakers are trying for their fourth straight Finals appearance this season.
Only three teams in the history of the league have done that before. The 1984-87 Celtics, the 1982-85 Lakers and the Celtics of the late 1950s and 1960s.
That would be quite the achievement. To put themselves amongst that group of teams.
The teams who made three straight trips to the Finals but failed on the fourth attempt
- The Kobe-Shaq LA Lakers (beaten by Duncan’s Spurs)
- The Detroit Bad Boys (Jordan’s Bulls)
- Jordan’s Bulls (twice) albeit due to his retirement on both occasions (Ewing’s Knicks both times).
- Magic’s Lakers teams of the late 1980s (outed by Portland)
- The 1968-70 LA Lakers led by Jerry West
- Mikan’s Lakers and the Knicks opponent that they defeated in each of the three meetings in the Finals.
So, six teams (not including Jordan’s two) made three straight appearances but failed to make the fourth Finals trip.
Ergo, three teams out of nine have made that tough fourth consecutive Finals showing.
Jordan’s Bulls would likely have made eight straight Finals appearances if not for his first retirement (assuming H.Grant sticks around in Chicago). That would bring the number up to 4/10.
Playoff Games, Added Wear and Tear
The Lakers have played 23, 23 and 21 playoff games in the last three seasons respectively. A total of 67 games. Almost an entire extra season.
The added wear and tear, physically and emotionally, of that journey will weigh heavily on them.
The Boston Celtics have played a similar number of games (64 contests). The Magic have played about three quarters that number with 48 games over the same period.
In contrast, the Miami Heat are on their first journey as a team. LeBron James has had long playoff voyages but Wade, Bosh and most of the other rotation players have had short playoff experiences in recent years. Likewise, most of the Lakers competitors in the West have only played half as much (rough estimate) as LA has.