The First NBA Playoffs

It was actually called the Basketball Association of America (BAA) when it began in 1946-7 with 11 teams under Commissioner Maurice Podoloff. The 60-game season ended with these standings.

Eastern Division W L Pct.
Western Division W L Pct.
Washington Capitols 49 11 .817
Chicago Stags 39 22 .639
Philadelphia Warriors 35 25 .583
St. Louis Bombers 38 23 .623
New York Knicks 33 27 .550
Cleveland Rebels 30 30 .500
Providence Steamrollers 28 32 .467
Detroit Falcons 20 40 .333
Toronto Huskies 22 38 .367
Pittsburgh Ironmen
Boston Celtics 22 38 .367

The All-League first team consisted of: Max Zaslofsky, Chicago; Bones McKinney, Washington; Joe Fulks, Philadelphia; Stan Miasek, Detroit; and Bob Feerick, Washington.

The playoffs consisted of six teams and did not resemble the system of recent decades. The two Division champions (Washington and Chicago) played a best-of-seven series with the winner advancing to the finals. Washington, coached by Red Auerbach, had by far the best record in the regular season, with 10 more wins than the Stags including a 29-1 mark at home. However, Chicago upset the Capitols in six games. Notice the weird progression of sites.

Chicago 4, Washington 2
April 1 @Washington: Chicago 81, Washington 65
April 3 @Washington: Chicago 69, Washington 53
April 8 @Chicago: Chicago 67, Washington 55
April 10 @Washington: Washington 75, Chicago 69
April 12 @Chicago: Washington 67 Chicago 55
April 13 @Chicago: Chicago 66 Washington 61

In the meantime, the next two teams in each division played a best-of-three series, with Philadelphia defeating St. Louis and the Knicks eliminating Cleveland. (You would think #2 in the East would play #3 in the West and vice-versa but that was not the case. The #2 teams played and the #3's squared off.) Then the winners of those series played another best-of-three for the right to face the Washington-Chicago winner.

Philadelphia 2, St. Louis 1
April 2 @Philadelphia:
Philadelphia 73, St. Louis 68
April 5 @St. Louis: St. Louis 73,
Philadelphia 51
April 6 @St. Louis:
Philadelphia 75, St. Louis 59
(I assume St. Louis got two home games because they had the better regular season record.)

New York 2, Cleveland 1
April 2 @Cleveland: Cleveland 77,
New York 51
April 5 @New York:
New York 86, Cleveland 74
April 9 @New York:
New York 93, Cleveland 71

Philadelphia 2, New York 0
April 12 @Philadelphia:
Philadelphia 82, New York 70
April 14 @New York:
Philadelphia 72, New York 53

The finals were best-of-seven. However, the Eddie Gottlieb-coached Warriors, which had only the fourth best record in the regular season, made short work of the Stags. For some reason, the Warriors got the first two games at home.

Finals: Philadelphia 4, Chicago 1
April 16 @Philadelphia:
Philadelphia 84, Chicago 71
April 17 @Philadephia:
Philadelphia 85, Chicago 74
April 19 @Chicago:
Philadelphia 75, Chicago 72
April 20 @Chicago: Chicago 74,
Philadelphia 73
April 22 @Philadelphia:
Philadelphia 83, Chicago 80

The initial season of the new league was a limited success. Only two of the franchises live on today in the same city, the Celtics and the Knicks. The Knicks played in Madison Square Garden, but it was the forerunner of today's structure. The Celtics' home was Boston Garden. Another notable arena was Chicago Stadium. The Warriors have morphed into the Golden State Warriors of today. Washington, Toronto, Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit have NBA franchises again today. However, Providence, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh do not.

The Finals games in Philadelphia were sellouts (approximately 8,000 in the Philadelphia Arena). Members of the victorious Warriors received $2,000 per man in prize money – almost half a season's pay for most.

The league suffered a large turnover from its first to its second year. The BAA opened the 1947-8 season with only eight franchises. Cleveland (despite making the playoffs), Toronto, Detroit, and Pittsburgh were gone. The Baltimore Bullets were added.

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