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The 2009 NBA Playoffs was the postseason for the National Basketball Association's 2008–09 season. The playoffs started on April 18, 2009 with ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV broadcasting the games in the United Statesmarker. Eight teams from each of the league's two conferences qualified for the playoffs, all seeded 1 to 8 in a tournament bracket, with all rounds in a best-of-seven format.

The Los Angeles Lakers clinched the top seed in the Western Conference with 65 wins in the regular season. However, the playoffs seedings below #1 were unable to be determined until the final day of the regular season with four teams still in contention to clinch three of the top four seeds and the home court advantage in the first round. The Cleveland Cavaliers finished with 66 wins in the regular season to clinch the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. They also won the Central Division for the first time in 33 years, and earned the home court advantage throughout the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

The Lakers and the number three seed in the Eastern Conference, the Orlando Magic, advanced to the 2009 NBA Finals, with the Lakers holding the home court advantage in the Finals. The Lakers beat the Magic 4–1 in the NBA Finals to win their 15th NBA championship.


The 3 division winners and 5 other teams with the most wins from each conference qualify for the playoffs. The seedings are based on each team's record; however, a division winner is guaranteed to be ranked at least fourth, regardless of their record. All series are in a best-of-seven format with the Games 1–2, 5 and 7 on the home court of the team with the better record, regardless of their seed. However, for the NBA Finals, the team with the better record plays Games 1–2 and 6–7 on their home court.

Tiebreak procedures

The tiebreakers that determine seedings are:
  1. Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division
  2. Head-to-head record
  3. Division record (if the teams are in the same division)
  4. Conference record
  5. Record vs. playoff teams, own conference
  6. Record vs. playoff teams, other conference
  7. Point differential, all games

If there are more than two teams tied, the team that wins the tiebreaker gets the highest seed, while the other teams are "re-broken" from the first step until all ties are resolved. Since the three division winners are guaranteed a spot in the top four, ties to determine the division winners must be broken before any other ties.

Playoff qualifying

Eastern Conference

Eastern Conference qualifying.
Seed Team Wins Tiebreaker Clinched
Playoff berth Division title Home court in

Conference Finals
Home court in

NBA Finals
1 Cleveland Cavaliers 66 β€” March 4 March 13 April 10 April 13
2 Boston Celtics 62 β€” March 4 March 18 β€” β€”
3 Orlando Magic 59 β€” March 11 March 25 β€” β€”
4 Atlanta Hawks 47 β€” March 25 β€” β€” β€”
5 Miami Heat 43 β€” April 3 β€” β€” β€”
6 Philadelphia 76ers 41 Conf.: 25–27 April 4 β€” β€” β€”
7 Chicago Bulls 41 Conf.: 24–28 April 10 β€” β€” β€”
8 Detroit Pistons 39 β€” April 10 β€” β€” β€”

Western Conference

Western Conference qualifying.
Seed Team Wins Tiebreaker Clinched
Playoff berth Division title Home court in

Conference Finals
1 Los Angeles Lakers 65 β€” March 12 March 12 March 27
2 Denver Nuggets 54 Div.: 12–4 2–1 vs. SA March 31 April 13 β€”
3 San Antonio Spurs 54 Skipped 1–2 vs. DEN March 31 April 15 β€”
4 Portland Trail Blazers 54 Div.: 11–5 β€” April 5 β€” β€”
5 Houston Rockets 53 β€” April 5 β€” β€”
6 Dallas Mavericks 50 β€” April 8 β€” β€”
7 New Orleans Hornets 49 β€” April 7 β€” β€”
8 Utah Jazz 48 β€” April 5 β€” β€”


β€” = not applicable
  • The regular season series was tied 2–2.
  • Tie between division leaders was broken first.


Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams with home court advantage are shown in italics.

Eastern Conference

All times are in Eastern Daylight Time (UTCβˆ’4)

First round

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (8) Detroit Pistons

The Cavaliers opened the series with a rout on Game 1, as LeBron James scored 38 points and the Cavaliers won by 18 points. In Game 2, the Cavaliers were leading by 27 points after the third quarter before the Pistons started a comeback in the fourth quarter. The Pistons managed to cut the Cavaliers' lead down to 7 points, but in the end the Cavaliers won the game by 12 points. Game 3 was a tight contest until an 18–2 run by the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter secured the victory for Cleveland. The Cavaliers swept the Pistons with a 21-point victory in Game 4, in which James scored 36 points while narrowly missing a triple-double for two straight games.

(2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Chicago Bulls

Game 6 running score
In Game 1, with the Bulls trailing by one point, rookie Derrick Rose scored on two free throws with 9.6 seconds remaining. Celtics captain Paul Pierce had a chance to win the game with his own free throws from a Joakim Noah foul but he missed the second after scoring the first, leading to overtime. In the overtime, with Rose fouling out, Tyrus Thomas scored six of the Bulls' eight points to put them up 105–103 with about 50 seconds left. Ray Allen, who had a poor shooting night, had a chance to tie the ballgame and send it into a second overtime but he did not succeed. Even while the playoffs were continuing, many experts and analysts were calling it "the greatest playoff series ever".

Rose matched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's playoff debut of 36 points to lead the Bulls into a Game 1 road victory. Rose also became the second player to have a 35-point, 10-assist game in their playoff debut in history, after Chris Paul did the feat in 2008; his 36 points was also the highest points scored by a Bull in a playoff game since Michael Jordan retired. The win also marked the Bulls' first postseason win against the Celtics in history.

(3) Orlando Magic vs. (6) Philadelphia 76ers

In Game 1, the Magic had an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter and Andre Iguodala scored a jumper with 2.2 seconds remaining to give the Sixers a road win. The Sixers almost managed another comeback in Game 2. The Magic led by 18 points midway through the third quarter before another late run by the Sixers brought the lead down to 5 points before the Magic finally won the game. The Sixers won Game 3 courtesy of another late shot; Thaddeus Young scored a layup with 2 seconds left to secure the win, despite a career playoff-high 36-point performance by Dwight Howard. The Magic secured a road win in Game 4 with their own late shot; Hedo Türkoğlu scored the game-winning three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to even the series.

In Game 5, Dwight Howard had 24 points and a career playoff-high 24 rebounds, leading the Magic to a victory. Game 5 was marked with an elbowing incident by Howard on Samuel Dalembert, which led to a one-game suspension for Howard. Rookie Courtney Lee also went down injured after taking an inadvertent elbow on the head from Howard. Despite losing two starters, Howard and Lee, the Magic won game 6, beating the Sixers on the road by 25 points to win the series.

(4) Atlanta Hawks vs. (5) Miami Heat

The Hawks opened the series with a 26-point win after leading by as much as 20 points at halftime. The Hawks also tied a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a playoff game. However, the Heat managed to rebound from the loss and won Game 2 on the road to tie the series. The Heat won Game 3 at home, almost in similar fashion as the Hawks' victory in Game 1. The Heat was already leading by 19 points at halftime and ended up winning by 29 points. In the next game, the Hawks bounced back and won a road game to even the series.

Game 5 was marked by several hard fouls and technical fouls. Dwyane Wade was fouled and sent tumbling down by Solomon Jones before a skirmish between Wade, Jones, Jamaal Magloire and Josh Smith started. All four players were given technical fouls in the incident. Wade was later called for a flagrant foul after he fouled Maurice Evans during a layup attempt. The flagrant foul was later rescinded by the officials after they reviewed the play. The Hawks finally won the game, despite losing starting center Al Horford due to injury in the second quarter. The Heat evened the series at 3–3 after winning Game 6. Wade scored 41 points to lead the Heat to a 26-point rout over the Hawks. The Hawks finally won the series after winning Game 7 at home, with 13 points difference. All seven games of the series were decided by at least 10 points, with an average margin of 19 points.

Conference Semifinals

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (4) Atlanta Hawks

(2) Boston Celtics vs. (3) Orlando Magic

Conference Finals: (1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (3) Orlando Magic

Western Conference

First round

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) Utah Jazz

(2) Denver Nuggets vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets

The Nuggets routed the Hornets in Game 1, led by hometown player Chauncey Billups's 36 points in his playoff debut for the Nuggets. He sank a career playoff-high 8 three-pointers and added 8 assists in the game. He continued his form in Game 2, scoring 31 points as the Nuggets took a 2–0 lead in the series. The Hornets bounced back with a victory in Game 3. Game 3 was marked with plenty of fouls, with a total of 58 personal fouls in the game, resulting in four players fouled out of the game, David West and Tyson Chandler for the Hornets, and Kenyon Martin and NenΓͺ for the Nuggets. The referees also called three flagrant fouls from James Posey, Chandler and Billups. Hornets' head coach Byron Scott was also called for a technical foul after arguing on Posey's flagrant foul.

The Nuggets then pulled a 58-point win in Game 4. The margin tied the most lopsided victory in playoff history set 53 years ago by the Minneapolis Lakers. The Hornets recorded a playoff-low in points and also a playoff-high 26 turnovers, which led to 41 Nuggets' points. The Nuggets then recorded their first series win since 1994 after a victory in Game 5. Carmelo Anthony scored his career playoff-high with 34 points as the Nuggets cruised to another double-digit win. The average margin of victory in the Nuggets's four wins was 37.5 points.

(3) San Antonio Spurs vs. (6) Dallas Mavericks

(4) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (5) Houston Rockets

Conference Semifinals

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (5) Houston Rockets

(2) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Dallas Mavericks

Conference Finals: (1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (2) Denver Nuggets

NBA Finals: (W1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (E3) Orlando Magic


Category High Average
Player Team Total Player Team Avg. GP
Points Ray Allen
LeBron James
Boston Celtics
Cleveland Cavaliers
51 (3OT)
LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers 35.3 14
Rebounds Dwight Howard Orlando Magic 24 Dwight Howard Orlando Magic 15.3 23
Assists Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo
Boston Celtics 19 (3OT)
Deron Williams Utah Jazz 10.8 5
Steals Glen Davis Boston Celtics 6 Mario Chalmers Miami Heat 2.9 7
Blocks Dwight Howard
Chris Andersen
Tyrus Thomas

Orlando Magic
Denver Nuggets
Chicago Bulls

9 (OT)

Tyrus Thomas Chicago Bulls 2.9 7


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