Eastern Conference (NBA)

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Eastern Conference
Eastern Conference (NBA) logo.gif
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
Formerly Eastern Division (1946–1970)
Founded 1971
No. of teams 15
Most recent Eastern Conference champion(s) Cleveland Cavaliers
(4th title)
Most Eastern Conference titles Boston Celtics (21 titles)

The Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association is made up of 15 teams, organized in three divisions.

The three division winners and the non-division winner with the best record are seeded 1 through 4 for the playoffs in order of their records, with all remaining non-division winners seeded 5 through 8. This leaves open the possibility that a #2 or #3 seed could be a non-division winner. Home-court advantage in a playoff series is decided by record, not by seeding, so if the #4 and #5 teams meet in a playoff series in which the #5 team has the better record, the #5 team would have home-court advantage.

The reasoning behind this seeding arrangement is that a non-division winner could have a better record than the winners of the two divisions other than the non-division winning team in question. If the three division winners were seeded 1 through 3 for the playoffs in order of their records, and all non-division winners seeded 4 through 8, it would be possible for the two best teams of the conference to meet in the Conference Semifinals. This actually happened in the 2006 NBA Playoffs when the two best teams in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks, both from the Southwest Division, faced one another in the Western Conference Semifinals while the 3rd seed, the Northwest Division-leading Denver Nuggets, had fewer wins than the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th seeds.The NBA proposed and approved of the current format to ensure that the best two teams of a conference can meet no earlier than the Conference Finals.

The Eastern Conference playoffs are divided into the first and second rounds followed by the Eastern Conference Finals, with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Western Conference champion in the NBA Finals to determine the champion. All playoff series are best-of-seven.

The current divisional alignment was adopted at the start of the 2004–05 season, when the now Charlotte Hornets began play as the NBA's 30th franchise. This necessitated the move of the New Orleans Pelicans from the Eastern Conference's Central Division to the newly created Southwest Division of the Western Conference

Current standing

  • 'g – Clinched playoff spot
  • * – Division leader
  • i – Eliminated from playoff contention


Team Division City Year From
Atlanta Hawks Southeast Atlanta 1968–present Western Division
Boston Celtics Atlantic Boston 1946–present
Brooklyn Nets Atlantic Brooklyn, New York
East Rutherford
1976-1977; 2012–present
(New York City)
(New Jersey)
Charlotte Hornets Southeast Charlotte 19882002; 2004–present  —dagger
Chicago Bulls Central Chicago 1980–present Western Conference
Cleveland Cavaliers Central Cleveland 1970–present  —dagger
Detroit Pistons Central Detroit 19671970; 1978–present Western Division
Indiana Pacers Central Indianapolis 1979–present Western Conference
Miami Heat Southeast Miami 1989–present Western Conference
Milwaukee Bucks Central Milwaukee 19681970; 1980–present  —dagger; Western Conference
New York Knicks Atlantic Manhattan, New York 1946–present
Orlando Magic Southeast Orlando, Florida 19891990; 1991–present  —dagger; Western Conference
Philadelphia 76ers Atlantic Philadelphia 1949–present  —*
Toronto Raptors Atlantic Toronto 1995–present  —dagger
Washington Wizards Southeast Washington, D.C. 1966-1973
(Washington, D.C.)
Western Division

Former teams

Team City Year From Year To Current conference
Joined Left
Baltimore Bullets Baltimore 1948 Western Division 1954[1] defunct defunct
Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers) Buffalo, New York 1970  —dagger 1978 Western Conference Western Conference
Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) Cincinnati 1962 Western Division 1972 Western Conference Western Conference
Houston Rockets Houston, Texas 1972 Western Conference 1980 Western Conference Western Conference
New Orleans Jazz (now the Utah Jazz) New Orleans 1974  —dagger 1979 Western Conference Western Conference
New Orleans Hornets (now the New Orleans Pelicans) New Orleans 2002  —dagger 2004 Western Conference Western Conference
Philadelphia Warriors (now the Golden State Warriors) Philadelphia 1946 1962 Western Division Western Conference
Providence Steamrollers Providence, Rhode Island 1946 1949 defunct defunct
San Antonio Spurs San Antonio, Texas 1976 ABAdouble-dagger 1980 Western Conference Western Conference
Toronto Huskies Toronto 1946 1947 defunct defunct
Washington Capitols Washington, D.C. 1946
Western Division 1947
Western Division

Team timeline

Denotes team that currently in the conference
Denotes team that has left the conference
New Orleans Hornets Toronto Raptors Orlando Magic Miami Heat Charlotte Hornets Chicago Bulls Indiana Pacers San Antonio Spurs Brooklyn Nets New Orleans Jazz (NBA team) Houston Rockets Cleveland Cavaliers Buffalo Braves Atlanta Hawks Milwaukee Bucks Detroit Pistons Washington Wizards Cincinnati Royals Philadelphia 76ers Baltimore Bullets (1944–1954) Washington Capitols Toronto Huskies Providence Steamrollers Philadelphia Warriors New York Knicks Boston Celtics

Eastern Conference champions

Eastern Conference was named Eastern Division until 1970
Bold Winning team of the BAA Finals or NBA Finals
^ Had or tied for the best regular season record for that season
Season Team Record Finals result
1946–47 Philadelphia Warriors 35–25 Won BAA Finals 4-1
1947–48 Philadelphia Warriors 27–21 Lost BAA Finals 2-4
1948–49 Washington Capitols 38–22 Lost BAA Finals 2-4
1949–50 Syracuse Nationals 51–13^ Lost NBA Finals 2-4
1950–51 New York Knicks 36–30 Lost NBA Finals 3-4
1951–52 New York Knicks 37–29 Lost NBA Finals 3-4
1952–53 New York Knicks 47–23 Lost NBA Finals 1-4
1953–54 Syracuse Nationals 42–30 Lost NBA Finals 3-4
1954–55 Syracuse Nationals 43–29^ Won NBA Finals 4-3
1955–56 Philadelphia Warriors 45–27^ Won NBA Finals 4-1
1956–57 Boston Celtics 44–28^ Won NBA Finals 4-3
1957–58 Boston Celtics 49–23^ Lost NBA Finals 2-4
1958–59 Boston Celtics 52–20^ Won NBA Finals 4-0
1959–60 Boston Celtics 59–16^ Won NBA Finals 4-3
1960–61 Boston Celtics 57–22^ Won NBA Finals 4-1
1961–62 Boston Celtics 60–20^ Won NBA Finals 4-3
1962–63 Boston Celtics 58–22^ Won NBA Finals 4-2
1963–64 Boston Celtics 59–21^ Won NBA Finals 4-1
1964–65 Boston Celtics 62–18^ Won NBA Finals 4-1
1965–66 Boston Celtics 54–26 Won NBA Finals 4-3
1966–67 Philadelphia 76ers 68–13^ Won NBA Finals 4-2
1967–68 Boston Celtics 54–28 Won NBA Finals 4-2
1968–69 Boston Celtics 48–34 Won NBA Finals 4-3
1969–70 New York Knicks 60–22^ Won NBA Finals 4-3
1970–71 Baltimore Bullets 42–40 Lost NBA Finals 0-4
1971–72 New York Knicks 48–34 Lost NBA Finals 1-4
1972–73 New York Knicks 57–25 Won NBA Finals 4-1
1973–74 Boston Celtics 56–26 Won NBA Finals 4-3
1974–75 Washington Bullets 60–22^ Lost NBA Finals 0-4
1975–76 Boston Celtics 54–28 Won NBA Finals 4-2
1976–77 Philadelphia 76ers 50–32 Lost NBA Finals 2-4
1977–78 Washington Bullets 44–38 Won NBA Finals 4-3
1978–79 Washington Bullets 54–28^ Lost NBA Finals 1-4
1979–80 Philadelphia 76ers 59–23 Lost NBA Finals 2-4
1980–81 Boston Celtics 62–20^ Won NBA Finals 4-2
1981–82 Philadelphia 76ers 58–24 Lost NBA Finals 2-4
1982–83 Philadelphia 76ers 65–17^ Won NBA Finals 4-0
1983–84 Boston Celtics 62–20^ Won NBA Finals 4-3
1984–85 Boston Celtics 63–19^ Lost NBA Finals 4-2
1985–86 Boston Celtics 67–15^ Won NBA Finals 4-2
1986–87 Boston Celtics 59–23 Lost NBA Finals 2-4
1987–88 Detroit Pistons 54–28 Lost NBA Finals 4-3
1988–89 Detroit Pistons 63–19^ Won NBA Finals 4-0
1989–90 Detroit Pistons 59–23 Won NBA Finals 4-1
1990–91 Chicago Bulls 61–21 Won NBA Finals 4-1
1991–92 Chicago Bulls 67–15^ Won NBA Finals 4-2
1992–93 Chicago Bulls 57–25 Won NBA Finals 4-2
1993–94 New York Knicks 57–25 Lost NBA Finals 3-4
1994–95 Orlando Magic 57–25 Lost NBA Finals 0-4
1995–96 Chicago Bulls 72–10^ Won NBA Finals 4-2
1996–97 Chicago Bulls 69–13^ Won NBA Finals 4-2
1997–98 Chicago Bulls 62–20^ Won NBA Finals 4-2
1998–99 New York Knicks 27–23 Lost NBA Finals 1-4
1999–2000 Indiana Pacers 56–26 Lost NBA Finals 2-4
2000–01 Philadelphia 76ers 56–26 Lost NBA Finals 1-4
2001–02 New Jersey Nets 52–30 Lost NBA Finals 0-4
2002–03 New Jersey Nets 49–33 Lost NBA Finals 2-4
2003–04 Detroit Pistons 54–28 Won NBA Finals 4-1
2004–05 Detroit Pistons 54–28 Lost NBA Finals 3-4
2005–06 Miami Heat 52–30 Won NBA Finals 4-2
2006–07 Cleveland Cavaliers 50–32 Lost NBA Finals 0-4
2007–08 Boston Celtics 66–16^ Won NBA Finals 4-2
2008–09 Orlando Magic 59–23 Lost NBA Finals 1-4
2009–10 Boston Celtics 50–32 Lost NBA Finals 3-4
2010–11 Miami Heat 58–24 Lost NBA Finals 2-4
2011–12 Miami Heat 46–20 Won NBA Finals 4-1
2012–13 Miami Heat 66–16^ Won NBA Finals 4-3
2013–14 Miami Heat 54–28 Lost NBA Finals 1-4
2014–15 Cleveland Cavaliers 53–29 Lost NBA Finals 2-4
2015–16 Cleveland Cavaliers 57–25 Won NBA Finals 4-3
2016–17 Cleveland Cavaliers 51–31 Lost NBA Finals 1-4

List of Eastern Conference teams with the most conference championships

Season results

^ Denotes team that won the NBA Finals
+ Denotes team that won the Conference Finals, but lost the NBA Finals
* Denotes team that qualified for the NBA Playoffs


  1. ^ The Bullets played 14 games during the 1954–55 season before becoming defunct.
  2. ^ The Capitols played 35 games during the 1950–51 season before becoming defunct.
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