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NBA

Playoffs streaks on the line as NBA targets return of 2019-20 season

De'Aaron Fox, Patty Mills and JJ Redick
De'Aaron Fox, Patty Mills and JJ Redick (Getty Images)

With the NBA targeting late July for a potential return, how the season ultimately returns could make or break a few notable postseason streaks.

If the NBA brings back 20 or 22 teams to play a truncated end of regular season or play-in style format for the final playoff spots, several teams currently on the outside looking in have playoff streaks on the line.

Ultimately, a technicality doesn't move the needle in the grand scheme of things and doesn't carry significance beyond historical footnotes. And yet several are big enough to warrant mention as they are referenced as topical storylines entering and throughout each season.

San Antonio's 22-year playoff streak

When the season was suspended, it seemed far-fetched that the Spurs would crawl back into the playoff hunt. Sitting in 12h in the Western Conference and three games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot, the Spurs faced an uphill climb to return to the postseason for what would be a record-setting 23rd straight seasons.

The Spurs have have the playoffs each of the last 22 seasons, a streak which began with the 1997-98 season. That is currently tied for the longest streak of its kind in NBA history alongside the Philadelphia 76ers/Syracuse Nationals who also made it 22 straight seasons from 1950-1971.

As it currently stands, the Spurs streak is over three times longer than any other active streak. Should San Antonio miss the playoffs, the Houston Rockets would take over as owners of the longest active streak of making the playoffs. Entering this season the Rockets and Golden State Warriors had each made it seven straight seasons.

Active Playoff Streaks
Team Streak Last Missed
Spurs 22 1996-97
Rockets 7 2011-12
Warriors 7 2011-12
Raptors 6 2010-11
Blazers 6 2010-11

***Entering this season

JJ Redick has never missed the playoffs

Since entering the NBA as a rookie in 2006-07, JJ Redick has played in the postseason every year of his career.

Longest Active Playoff Streaks
Player Streak Last Missed
JJ Redick 13 Never
Kyle Korver 12 2006-07
Patty Mills 10 Never
James Harden 10 Never

That includes stints with the Magic, Bucks, Clippers and 76ers. Now in his 14th season and first with the New Orleans Pelicans after agreeing to a two-year deal as a free agent prior to the start of the season, the veteran sharpshooter is looking to become just the ninth player in NBA history to play in the postseason in 14 straight seasons to begin a career. The others to do it: Clyde Drexler, Robert Horry, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, Clifford Robinson, Dolph Schayes and Tony Parker.

As it stands the Pelicans sit in 10th place in the West, three games back of the Grizzlies in the loss column.

Prior to the season's suspension, the Pelicans appeared to be making a serious challenge for that final spot. Not only did they hold the current head-to-head tiebreaker over Memphis with two more meetings to go, the Pelicans had the NBA's third-easiest schedule compared the Memphis who owned the NBA's toughest remaining schedule. Add it all up and FiveThirtyEight.com's projects gave Redick's Pelicans a 60% chance of making it.

Can the Kings end their postseason drought?

If the NBA brings back either 20 or 22 teams, the Sacramento Kings - like the Spurs and Pelicans - have an opportunity to end a streak of their own, albeit a different kind of streak.

The Kings last made the playoffs in 2005-06 when they lost in the 1st Round to the Spurs. They have since missed it 13 straight seasons entering 2019-20, tied for the second-longest playoff drought in NBA history.

The Los Angeles Clippers missed the playoffs 15 straight seasons from 1977-91.

Prior to the season's suspension, FiveThirtyEight gave Sacramento a 9% chance of making the playoffs.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs

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