The most successful playoff runs in NBA history

Laith Malhas 18:53 09/05/2017
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No team in NBA history has been able to stay perfect during a playoff run to a championship however, some teams have come close.

The 2017 playoffs have two teams capable of running the table to the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors both halfway there with an 8-0 record in the playoffs in their respective conferences so far.

The Cavaliers will have a much easier opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals, whether it is the Boston Celtics or the Washington Wizards, as both squads lack the experience and talent to overcome the Cavs and LeBron James, who is performing at an all-time level in these playoffs.

The Warriors will face sterner resistance from either the San Antonio Spurs or the Houston Rockets.

Both teams have a chance to enter the Finals with (12-0) record and solidify their excellence in playoff history, here is a look at five teams who achieved the best records in the postseason:

5) 1986-87 LOS ANGELES LAKERS

PLAYOFF FORMAT: 5-7-7-7

OVERALL RECORD: 15-3

Led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the Lakers ran through the 1987 Western Conference, sweeping the Denver Nuggets in the first round, then defeating the Golden State Warriors in five games in the second round. Their success continued by sweeping the Seattle Supersonics in the conference finals to set the stage for a clash with Larry Bird and his Boston Celtics in the Finals. The Lakers defeated their bitter rivals 4-2 and completed one of the most dominant runs in playoff history.

4) 1988-89 DETROIT PISTONS 

PLAYOFF FORMAT: 5-7-7-7

OVERALL RECORD: 15-2

The year of the Bad Boys, Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars led the rough and intimidating Pistons to one of the best streaks in American sports. They only lost two games in the Eastern Conference Finals to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, Detroit dismantled all their other opponents in four games including the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.

3) 1990-91 CHICAGO BULLS

PLAYOFF FORMAT: 5-7-7-7

OVERALL RECORD: 15-2

The first of six championships for the Bulls, Michael Jordan was a man possessed during the 91′ playoffs and was determined to lead the franchise to its first title. The Bulls swept the New York Knicks in the first round, handled the Philadelphia 76ers in five games then swept the Pistons in the conference finals. Chicago met the Lakers and Magic in the Finals and easily dispatched the older team in five games to claim their first championship in franchise history.

2) 1982-83 PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

PLAYOFF FORMAT: 3-7-7-7

OVERALL RECORD: 12-1

The opening round of NBA playoffs during the 1980’s was a best of three series. The 76ers were a juggernaut first seed in the East and earned a first-round bye at the time. Julius (Dr.J) Erving and Moses Malone led their team to a sweep of the Knicks in the semifinals, afterward defeating the Milwaukee Bucks (4-1) in the conference finals. The 83′ showdown it was called, Philadelphia obliterated the Lakers in four games and avenged their two previous losses to Los Angeles in the championship round.

1) 2000-01 LOS ANGELES LAKERS

PLAYOFF FORMAT: 5-7-7-7

OVERALL RECORD: 15-1

Considered the best one-two punch in league history at the time, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were in their prime and ready to wreak havoc on the rest of the NBA. The Laker swept all their Western Conference opponents to reach the Finals with an (11-0) record.

The 76ers and Allen Iverson were standing in the way of a perfect post-season for the Lakers, Shaq and Kobe took over the series but could not end on a perfect note, Los Angeles lost the opening game at home (107-101) in overtime off a 48-point performance from Allen Iverson. The Lakers won every game after that to win back-to-back titles.

If the Cavaliers and Warriors meet in the finals, there is zero chance that either team could sweep the other. The story line could shape up into two super teams meeting in the NBA Finals for a trilogy with perfect (12-0) records coming out of their conferences.

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