The 2011 NBA Playoffs began on Saturday April 16, and concluded on Thursday, May 26. The NBA Finals began on Tuesday, May 31, due to both conference finals ended in five games. ESPN began their playoff broadcast on April 16, and continued every Friday and Saturday thereafter, with the Sunday-Thursday schedule reserved for TNT (some Saturday first-round games apply) and NBA TV. ABC continued broadcasting early-round playoff coverage every Sunday afternoon, with select Saturday afternoon broadcasts. The first round playoff coverage was non-exclusive except for ABC-covered games, in which local sports networks (e.g. Fox Sports Net, Comcast SportsNet) still aired the game in their home market. TNT aired the Eastern Conference Finals while ESPN aired the Western Conference Finals. The NBA Finals were shown on ABC. Nationwide radio coverage was on ESPN Radio for select playoff games, the entire Conference Finals and NBA Finals.
2010–11 marked Shaquille O'Neal's last pro season, as the 15-time All-Star, who played with the Boston Celtics this season, announced his retirement on June 1, 2011, one day after one of his former coaches, Mike Brown, was introduced by one of his former teams, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Phil Jackson announced his retirement as head coach after the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers were swept 4–0 by the eventual champion Mavericks in the conference semifinals. This marked the first time that Jackson had been on the wrong side of a playoff sweep.
The Memphis Grizzlies won the franchise's first playoff game and series in a 4–2 victory over the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round. They became the fourth team (and second in the seven-game first round era) to topple the top seed in the first round of the playoffs.
November 11: Youngest player to 26,000 points. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant became the youngest player to score 26,000 points in a 118–112 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Bryant achieved the mark at the age of 32 years and 80 days, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain by 34 days.
November 19: San Antonio Spurs franchise records; career points and games played. San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan became the Spurs' all-time leading scorer and all-time leader in games played, passing his former "Twin Towers" teammate David Robinson in the Spurs' 94–82 win over the Utah Jazz. Duncan played in his 988th game, surpassing Robinson's 987 career games, while also surpassing Robinson's career total of 20,790 points.
November 27: Golden State Warriors franchise record; most three-pointers in a game. In a 104–94 road victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors guard Dorell Wright set a franchise record with nine three-point field goals made, surpassing Jason Richardson's record of eight three-pointers set on March 29, 2007.
November 30: 34th player in history to 10,000 rebounds. In a 79–90 loss at the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace became the 34th player in NBA history to surpass the 10,000 rebound mark for his career.
December 10: Seventh coach in history to 1,000 wins. Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl became the seventh head coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games in the Nuggets' 123–116 road victory over the Toronto Raptors.
December 12: 94th player in history to 1,000 games. San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan played in the 1,000th regular season game of his career, becoming the 94th player in NBA history to play in one thousand games.
December 12: New York Knicks franchise record; consecutive 30 point games. In a 129–125 home victory against the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire set a franchise record with eight consecutive 30 point games, surpassing Willie Naulls's record of seven set from February 22 to March 4, 1962. He would end up with nine straight 30-point games.
December 22: 95th player in history to 1,000 games. Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace played in the 1,000th regular season game of his career, becoming the 95th player in NBA history to play in one thousand games.
December 22: 3rd coach in history to win 1,211 games. Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan has won his 1,211 games in his career of coaching after defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves, with the victory Jerry surpasses Pat Riley for the third all-time in career wins.
December 29: Los Angeles Clippers franchise record; consecutive double-double games. In a 95–103 home loss against the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin set a franchise record with 20 consecutive double-double games, surpassing Michael Cage's record of 19 set from December 10, 1986, to January 16, 1987. He would end up with 27 straight double-double games.
January 16: 37th player in history to 20,000 points. Phoenix Suns guard Vince Carter scored his 20,000th career points in a win over the New York Knicks. Carter finished the game with 29 points on 11-for-20 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds.
February 8: Minnesota Timberwolves franchise record; consecutive double-double games. In a 112–108 home win against the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love set a franchise record with 38 consecutive double-double games, surpassing Kevin Garnett's record of 37.
February 10: Most three-pointers made in a career. In a 92–86 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen surpassed Reggie Miller as the all-time leader in three-point shots made with 2,562. Allen did this in three fewer seasons and with 300 fewer games.
February 15: 96th player in history to 1,000 games. Chicago Bulls center Kurt Thomas played in the 1,000th regular season game of his career, becoming the 96th player in NBA history to play in one thousand games.
March 9: NBA record; consecutive double-double games. Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love set the NBA record for most consecutive games with a double-double since the NBA-ABA merger, besting Moses Malone's record of 51. He recorded his 52nd consecutive double-double in a 101–75 win over the Indiana Pacers.
April 6: Golden State Warriors franchise record; most three-pointers in a season Golden State Warriors guard Dorell Wright made a Warriors franchise record of 3 pt shots made in a season with 184 in a home win versus the Los Angeles Lakers, beating Jason Richardson with the previous record of 183 in the 2005–06 season.
May 17: NBA record; Most free throws made in a gameDirk Nowitzki made 24 free throws without misses.
November 3: Orlando Magic franchise record: most points in first half. In a 128–86 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Orlando Magic set a franchise record for most points in the first half with 78. On the other hand, the Timberwolves suffered their worst loss in franchise history.
November 9: Indiana Pacers franchise record: most points in a quarter. The Indiana Pacers scored 54 points in the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets, the most points scored by a team in a quarter since the Phoenix Suns scored 57 in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets on November 10, 1990. The team was also one field goal short of recording a perfect third quarter (the Pacers shot 20–21).
November 14: Phoenix Suns franchise record: most three-pointers in a game. In a 121–116 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Phoenix Suns set a franchise record with 22 made three-point field goals in a game, one shy of the NBA record 23 in a game by the Orlando Magic on January 13, 2009.
December 12: New Orleans Hornets franchise record: fewest assists in a game. In a 70–88 loss at the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Orleans Hornets set a franchise record low with four assists, one shy of the NBA record of three.
NBA record: consecutive road wins in a calendar month, Miami Heat franchise record: most wins in a calendar month. The Miami Heat set a league record when they recorded 10 straight road wins in the month of December. The Heat also set a franchise record for most wins in a calendar month with 15.
January 7: Second team to win 3,000 games. The Boston Celtics became only the second team after the Los Angeles Lakers to win 3,000 games in a 122–102 win over the Toronto Raptors.
January 30: Cleveland Cavaliers single-season franchise record. The Cleveland Cavaliers lost their 20th straight game in the same season, breaking their old record of 19 straight within the same season in 1981–82. Their streak would end after 26 straight losses.
February 5: NBA record: longest single-season losing streak. With a 111–105 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Cleveland Cavaliers now hold the longest single-season losing streak with its 24th consecutive loss (streak ended at 26).
February 7: NBA record: longest losing streak. With a 99–96 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Cleveland Cavaliers now hold the longest losing streak with its 25th consecutive loss (streak ended at 26).
March 11: NBA record: Most combined three-pointers in a game; Golden State Warriors franchise record: Most three-pointers in a game. The game between the Golden State Warriors and the Orlando Magic, a 123–120 overtime win by the Warriors, saw a combined 36 three-point shots made in an NBA game. The Warriors also set a franchise record by connecting 21 three-point shots.
On July 7, the NBA announced that the salary cap for the 2010–11 season would be $58.044 million, an increase of $0.344 million from previous season's $57.70 million, and would go into effect on July 8 as the league's "moratorium period" had ended and teams could begin signing free agents and making trades. The increase came as a surprise as the league initially predicted a decrease in the salary cap. On March, before the playoffs, the league projected that the salary cap would be around $56.1 million. The tax level for the season was set at $70.307 million, with each team paying a $1 tax for each $1 by which it exceeds $70.307 million. The mid-level exception was $5.765 million for the season and the minimum team salary, which was set at 75% of the salary cap, was $43.533 million. The maximum salaries for players are set at $13.604 million for players with zero to six years of experience, $16.324 million for players with seven to nine years of experience, and $19.045 million for players with more than 10 years of experience.
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