I was checking out the playoff bracket the other day and I realised that a significant number of the games (in the first round) went up to the 7th game. Considering that there are 15 series in total x 7 matches the theoretical maximum is 105 matches. (In parallel with that, the theoretical minimum would be 15 x 4 = 60 matches).

Doing a quick calculation, I noticed that so far 72 games were played with 3 match-ups remaining.

So re-iterating my questions:

  1. In what year were the most number of NBA playoff games played?
  2. How many total games were played during that year's playoffs?

EDIT: Now that the 2014 playoffs are over, the total number of games has turned out to be 89 (if I am not mistaken).

  • I don't know -- but it's almost definitely since 2003. There have been 16 qualifying teams for the playoffs since 1984 but from '84 to '02 the first round was a best three-out-of-five series. Since 2003, the first round, like the second, third, and fourth, has been a best four-out-of-seven series. This change would create the possibility for up to an extra sixteen games. May 26, 2014 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


2014 and 2006 both had 89 games played in them, based on a cursory scrape of Wikipedia (which is much harder than it should be, btw; some significant editing is needed for consistency!). Those are the two largest number of games played; however, pre 2003 of course the number of games in the first round was fewer, so it's not likely to surpass this.

If you weight for number of games in the playoffs, 1988 there were 80 games played out of a max of 89, for 89.9% of possible games played (2014 had 85.7% of possible games played, for reference). 1976 had 50/55 games played, for even higher 90.9%, and every single series went to either 6 or 7 games (plus the two 3 game series which went to 3 games in both).

1962 and 1963 look like they went to the highest overall, 29 of 31 games, for 93.5%.

I'll post a table of the whole thing, if I can find a better source to scrape than Wikipedia (which has a lot of minor formatting errors making it impossible to do efficiently).

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