Most disappointing playoff coaches

Quantifying why George Karl's teams disappoint in the playoffs

Originally Published: May 7, 2013
By Neil Paine | Basketball-Reference.com
George Karl John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY SportsGeorge Karl's teams have not fared well in the postseason, including this year's Nuggets.

Another year, another first-round departure for the Denver Nuggets. With their defeat in six games at the hands of the Golden State Warriors last week, the Nuggets now have lost in the Western Conference quarterfinals nine times in the past 10 years. Making the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons is a remarkable accomplishment in and of itself -- it's the NBA's second-longest active streak (behind the Spurs' 16 straight postseason appearances) -- but that's cold comfort for fans in the Mile High City after another unsatisfying spring.

Making things tougher to swallow is the fact that Denver wasn't an overwhelming underdog in most of the series it lost. The Nuggets had home-court advantage in three of those 10 first-round matchups -- including this season's battle with the Warriors -- and they finished the regular season within five wins (or better) of their opponents in three of their other seven series. The Nuggets' futility defies probability; by chance alone, you'd think they would stumble into more than one series victory in their past 10. In fact, we can use probability to quantify how disappointing Denver has been in the past decade of the postseason -- and what it says about their coach, George Karl.


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Neil Paine writes for FiveThirtyEight, the data-supported sports, politics and culture site coming soon from ESPN.