6 teams who have never reached the NBA Finals
With the regular season of the NBA drawing towards a close, franchises, players, and fans alike turn their attention towards the postseason.
The playoffs begin in three weeks' time but things are not yet done and dusted as far as those top eight seeds are concerned in either Conference.
The Western Conference is the more competitive one yet again with 10 teams still in the hunt for a playoffs spot.
Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors have got the first two seeds all covered up but cutthroat rivalry means that eight teams can slot in anywhere in the remaining six playoffs spot.
In the East, the playoffs teams have been virtually decided but the tussle for finishing at a higher seed continues.
The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics lead the pack in this half of the NBA.
While many franchises will be looking for glory in the postseason, endeavoring to make a long playoffs run, some teams would have already set sights on an NBA ring.
The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers have been the NBA Finals regulars of late; Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs before them.
However, there are many sides who have never managed to reach the NBA Finals in the history of the league. Let us look at these six teams now.
#6 Memphis Grizzlies
There couldn't have been poorer times for the Memphis Grizzlies.
They are dead last in the Western Conference rankings, recently endured a 19-game losing streak, and to add salt to the wounds, they were thrashed by the Charlotte Hornets 79-140 in a 61-point blowout loss last night.
Their story in each of the last two seasons has been the same. They finished seventh, were pitted against San Antonio Spurs in the first round, and lost on both occasions.
The Grizzlies have qualified for the playoffs a total of 10 times in franchise history and their best finish has been that of reaching the Western Conference Finals in the 2012-13 season under the tutelage of head coach Lionel Hollins.
Marc Gasol was adjudged the Defensive Player of the Year in that term. Interestingly, the Grizzlies again lost out to the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, who swept them 4-0.
Given their tanking record this season, the Grizzlies don't like a side that will be anywhere near a playoffs spot soon, let alone an NBA Finals appearance.
#5 Charlotte Hornets
It has been the same old story for the Michael Jordan co-owned Charlotte Hornets over the past two seasons.
They had started the season well but somehow slipped out of the playoffs contention as the season progress.
As a result, Kemba Walker and Co. find themselves in the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference this year, after having finished 11th last season.
The Hornets, who endured 10 seasons in the NBA as the Bobcats, have been eliminated in the first round by the Miami Heat in both of their last two playoffs appearances.
They have never qualified for the Eastern Conference Finals but have reached the semi-finals on four occasions in the 1992-93, 1997-98, 2000-01, and the 2001-02 seasons.
The Hornets were boosted by the addition of Center Dwight Howard at the beginning of the year but currently hold a poor record of 32-41 this season.
Their quest for a playoffs appearance will continue next year but an NBA Finals appearance seems far-fetched at the moment.
#4 Los Angeles Clippers
The lesser decorated of the two Los Angeles franchises in the NBA, the Clippers have never reached the NBA Finals in their 48-year history in the competition.
Having finished in the top four seeds in each of the last five years, the Clippers are looking at a regular season exit from the NBA for the first time since 2011. The departures of All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin hasn't helped either.
The best finish for the Clippers in the NBA has been that of the Western Conference Semifinals which they've achieved a whopping seven times but never managed to proceed further.
The last such playoff run came in the 2013-14 season when Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Clippers 4-2 to proceed to the Western Conference Finals.
While the Clippers still have a healthy chance of qualifying for the playoffs, being at the 10th spot in the West with a 38-33 record, they trail the eight placed and high flying Utah Jazz by 2.5 games who have won 22 out of their last 25 games.
The Clippers are already in the midst of an away game against the Indiana Pacers at the time of this writing.
#3 Minnesota Timberwolves
The situation is finally improving for Minnesota Timberwolves who have been the regulars of the bottom few spots of the Western Conference over the past few years.
The 2015-16 Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns along with Andrew Wiggins and veteran two-way player Jimmy Butler has propelled the Wolves into playoffs contention this year.
Minnesota have participated in the postseason a total of 10 times but have been eliminated in the first round on all but one occasion in the 2003-04 season when they reached the Western Conference Finals.
Kevin Garnett helped them top the West that year, winning the regular season MVP award in the process. They were them eliminated by Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Incidentally, the Timberwolves have never qualified for the playoffs since then and are currently on a 13-year playoffs drought which is currently the longest such drought.
However, the Timberwolves are highly likely to make it to the postseason this year and the dreaded baton will be then passed on to Sacramento Kings who have never qualified for the playoffs since the 2005-06 season.
#2 New Orleans Pelicans
It was only in 2013 that the Louisiana based franchise renamed itself to New Orleans Pelicans, having existed as the New Orleans Hornets for 11 seasons since their inception in 2002.
During their comparatively short tenure in the NBA, the Pelicans have managed to qualify for the playoffs six times.
Their best playoffs run came in the 2007-08 season when the Pelicans finished second in the Western Conference but were eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals 3-4 in a closely contested series.
The then head coach Byron Scott won Coach of the Year award for the regular season.
New Orleans Pelicans have a good record of 43-30 in the NBA currently and look all set to return to the playoffs after having missed out in the previous two seasons. All-Star forward Anthony Davis is also making a case for the regular season MVP award.
#1 Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets are yet again trying to a have a look-in for the top eight playoffs spots. The Mile-High City franchise last qualified for the postseason in the 2012-13 season when they finished third in the Western Conference under head coach George Karl who won the Coach of the Year award in that term too.
In their 42 seasons in the NBA, the Nuggets have qualified for the Western Conference Finals twice in the 1984-85 and the 2008-09 seasons.
Their undoing, however, was brought about the Los Angeles Lakers who beat them comprehensively and went on to win the NBA Championship too on both occasions.
The Nuggets are currently placed ninth in the Western Conference with a 39-33 record and are already underway an away fixture against the Washington Wizards at the time of this writing.
Their chances of making it to the playoffs this year, however, look slim as they have a paltry 12-23 record on the road and several away games remain on their upcoming schedule.