Monday, May 29, 2017

NBA Finals Threepeat

So the NBA Finals are set.  Warriors vs. Cavs.  Again.  Game 1 tips off Thursday night in Oakland.  Once the Bulls are eliminated, I generally don't pay too much attention to the playoffs, but I'll watch the Finals.  And you know I love sports statistics, so let me drop some knowledge on you.

1. This is the third year in a row that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will be meeting in the finals.  This is the first time in NBA history that the same two franchises will meet in the finals for more than two years in a row.  In the three other major sports, the same teams have met in the finals only four times total, and the most recent time this happened was 1954 to 1956.  Here is when it has happened in the other major sports:

-New York Giants and New York Yankees (1921-1923)

-Canton/Cleveland Bulldogs and Chicago Bears (1922-1925)
-Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions (1952-1954)

-Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens (1954-1956)

2.  Of course, if the Warriors and Cavs are meeting for the third year in a row, that means that both teams have played for the championship three years in a row.  Here is a list of all the teams in the major sports leagues (counting the ABA and AFL, too) that have played in at least three championship games/series in a row:

3 years in a row
-Houston Oilers (1960-1962)
-San Diego Chargers (1963-1965)

5 years in a row
-New York Yankees (1949-1953, 1960-1964)
4 years in a row
-New York Giants (1921-1924)
-New York Yankees (1936-1939, 1955-1958, 1998-2001)
3 years in a row
-Baltimore Orioles (1969-1971)
-Chicago Cubs (1906-1908)
-Detroit Tigers (1907-1909)
-New York Giants (1911-1913)
-New York Yankees (1926-1928, 1941-1943, 1976-1978)
-Philadelphia/Oakland Athletics (1929-1931, 1972-1974, 1988-1990)

10 years in a row
-Boston Celtics (1957-1966)

4 years in a row
-Boston Celtics (1984-1987)
-Los Angeles Lakers (1982-1985)
-Miami Heat (2011-2014)

3 years in a row
-Chicago Bulls (1991-1993, 1996-1998)
-Cleveland Cavaliers (2015-2017)
-Detroit Pistons (1988-1990)
-Golden State Warriors (2015-2017)
-Los Angeles/Minneapolis Lakers (1952-1954, 1968-1970, 1987-1989, 2000-2002, 2008-2010)
-New York Knicks (1951-1953)

6 years in a row
-Cleveland Browns (1950-1955)

4 years in a row
-Buffalo Bills (1991-1994)
-Chicago Bears/Staleys (1921-1924, 1940-1943)
-Green Bay Packers (1929-1932)

3 years in a row
-Canton/Cleveland Bulldogs (1922-1924)
-Chicago Bears (1932-1934)
-Detroit Lions (1952-1954)
-Green Bay Packers (1960-1962, 1965-1968)
-Los Angeles Rams (1949-1951)
-Miami Dolphins (1972-1974)
-New York Giants (1933-1935, 1961-1963)
-Philadelphia Eagles (1947-1949)

10 years in a row
-Montreal Canadiens (1951-1960)
5 years in a row
-Montreal Canadiens (1965-1969)
-New York Islanders (1980-1984)
4 years in a row
-Montreal Canadiens (1976-1979)
3 years in a row
-Detroit Red Wings (1941-1943, 1954-1956)
-Edmonton Oilers (1983-1985)
-Philadelphia Flyers (1974-1976)
-St. Louis Blues (1968-1970)
-Toronto Maple Leafs (1938-1940, 1947-1949, 1962-1964)

3.  The Warriors have set the NBA record by going 12-0 in their first three playoff series this year.  The Cavs are pretty close behind, going 12-1 thus far.  That means that both teams technically have the chance to equal or break the record for fewest losses in the playoffs since the NBA playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984.  Even if the series goes to 7 games, the most losses the winning team will have is four.  Here are the teams since 1984 that have lost four or fewer games in the playoffs, starting with the best record (note that the first round was changed from a best-of-5 to a best-of-7 format in 2003):
15-1 (.938):  2001 Los Angeles Lakers
15-2 (.882):  1989 Detroit Pistons; 1991 Chicago Bulls; 1999 San Antonio Spurs
15-3 (.833):  1986 Boston Celtics; 1987 Los Angeles Lakers; 1996 Chicago Bulls
16-4 (.800):  2007 San Antonio Spurs
15-4 (.789):  1985 Los Angeles Lakers; 1997 Chicago Bulls; 2002 Los Angeles Lakers
11-4 (.733):  1989 Los Angeles Lakers*
*Swept first three rounds before being swept in the Finals

4.  LeBron James has been to seven NBA Finals in a row (and eight overall), which is insane.  Of course, he only has three rings to show for it.  You know who never lost an NBA Finals?  Michael Jordan.

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