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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Boston is a brilliant sporting city. Fenway Park, the wonderfully archaic home of the Red Sox, has baseball history seeping through its pores. The grand old place is perhaps not as beautiful as Lord’s cricket ground yet is equally breathtaking in its significance and importance for the game.
A welcome throwback in a modern world, though the events of last week saw Beantown dragged back into the dark ages. We are still in the infancy of the baseball season, yet the seething anger and hatred on show between the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles had all the intensity of a World Series cruncher. Some of it was great to see.
The longevity of the 162-game season ensures all the pumped up craziness is usually reserved to the business end of the campaign. The horrible racist abuse and fallout, however, has left a very bad taste in the mouth.
Ever since Manny Machado launched his studs perilously near to Dustin Pedroia’s recently restructured knee on April 21, bad blood has flowed. Two nights later Matt Barnes launched the ball at his head and was promptly banned for four games. The flames had been seriously fanned and last week saw more fireworks.
With Machado established as public enemy No1 in Boston, the home pitchers went for the kill again, this time Chris Sale throwing behind his legs. The Orioles star went nuts but some Red Sox fans, clearly drunk on the seething hatred, went too far the previous night.
Adam Jones, Baltimore’s five-time All-Star, said he was subjected to racial abuse from supporters. He claimed he was called a derogatory name before having peanuts thrown at him. The following night a man hurled a racist term at a Kenyan woman who’d just sung the national anthem.
He has since been banned for life. Boston does have unfortunate priors. The Red Sox didn’t add their first black player until 1959 – they were the final team to integrate after Jackie Robinson (pictured) opened the gate for African Americans – while accusations of bigotry followed the city around for years.
The greatest-ever home run hitter, Barry Bonds, refused to step out at Fenway, once telling the local newspaper: “It’s too racist for me and it ain’t changing.” To their credit, the Red Sox front office and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred acted quickly in condemning the distasteful events.
“It was frustrating for me,” said Jones. “I’m a grown man with a family to raise, so I’m not just going to let nobody just sit there and berate me. I’m a grown man.”
Jones received an emotional standing ovation from the Boston fans on Tuesday, the majority clearly embarrassed and appalled from what transpired 24 hours previously. Pitcher Sale even held back to allow Jones a moment to soak everything in.
“I appreciate what the fans did,” he said. “I have never on the road gotten any ovations or anything like that, so it just caught me off guard a little bit.” The niceties didn’t last. You’d have thought Jones may get the benefit of doubt on Wednesday night when arguing with the umpire about some questionable calls while at bat.
Think again. He was ejected following a furious row. It was like a welcome throwback to baseball’s glory years. Fighting, fury, feuds, drama. Machedo dropped an astonishing tally of F-bombs post game on Tuesday, insisting he’d lost all respect for the Red Sox before threatening to ‘crush’ anyone who tries to hurt him again.
The abuse suffered by Jones, however, was horrible but isn’t simply a baseball problem. It’s representative of the multitude of ills which have infected modern American society. One stat though, makes intriguing reading. On opening day this year, there were only 62 African American players on roster.
Food for thought indeed.
The laughable arrogance of LaVar Ball unfortunately shows no signs of letting up. His son Lonzo may be gearing up for life as an NBA rookie, but after his debut shoe was priced at an astonishing $495, question marks surrounding his mad father remain.
To put that into context, over the last two years the most expensive Air Jordan’s have come in at $400. Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all opted out of a deal following LaVar’s insistence of incorporating a licensing contract for his Big Baller Brand into what would have been a standard endorsement agreement.
“Ultimately, LaVar has put an insane amount of pressure on his son to perform in the NBA,” said Ken Wisnefski, CEO and founder of digital marketing leader WebiMax. “If he flops, his family’s brand falls apart.”
The ZO2 shoe has a ‘microfiber python texture’ in matte black and has a wonderful sounding ‘Delorean finish.’ No, I have no no idea what they’re talking about either. “Prada and Gucci is selling theirs for what they want,” Ball said. “Ours is better than that. It feels better.” Of course it does.
Lonzo Ball's 1st signature shoe by the BBB (Boutta Be Bankrupt) will cost $495. pic.twitter.com/oaJJ8ACcJD— NBA News (@NBABBGAMETIME) May 4, 2017
David Villa continues to buck the trend in MLS. The 35-year-old former Barcelona ace was NYCFC’s first ever signing in 2014 and three years on, he’s still there loving life. In fact, the Spaniard is so enamored with America he’s just signed on for another 12 months with his current deal expiring at the end of this season.
Yes, Villa is on $5 million a year and doesn’t want for anything in one of the most exciting cities on Earth. But, unlike some stars who are perceived to be only interested in chasing the MLS dollar, Villa has embraced it all.
He has scored five goals in seven matches this season and remains boss Patrick Vieira’s main man. Happiness on and oﬀ the pitch has been key.
“I’m so happy here in this city and at this club, I am fit and I can do things on the pitch – I’m not ready to go to the sidelines,“ said the World Cup winning forward. “That’s why continuing here and signing this contract was a really easy decision for me.”
Isaiah Thomas scored a career-high 53 points and dedicated the effort to his late sister as the Boston Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards 129-119 in a second-round NBA playoff game Tuesday.
Thomas scored 20 points in the fourth quarter and nine more in a game-closing 15-2 over-time run that gave the host Celtics a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series, which shifts to Washington for game three on Thursday.
Thomas attended his sister Chyna’s funeral Saturday after she died in a car accident and has also had to overcome having had a tooth knocked out in a game-one victory Sunday.
“My sister, everything I do is for her, and she’s watching over me,” Thomas said.
On what would have been his sister’s 23rd birthday, Thomas connected on 18-of-33 shots from the floor and 12-of-13 from the free throw line.
He did more than that, eclipsing his former career-best 52 points in a regular-season victory over Miami this season and his former playoff best of 42 last year against Atlanta.
Celtics center Al Horford contributed 15 points and 12 rebounds while Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley each added 14 points for Boston.
But the only Celtics player to ever score more points in a playoff game was John Havlicek, who struck for 54 in 1973.
John Wall led seven double-figure scorers for the Washington Wizards with 40 points and 13 assists, but 19 of those points and six assists came in the first quarter.
The Wizards, who led 42-29 after the first period, became the first team since the NBA introduced a shot clock in 1954 to lose the first two games of a playoff series after leading each by 10 or more points at the end of the first quarter.
Otto Porter’s 3-pointer put Washington ahead 114-112 with 32 seconds to play in regulation but Thomas was fouled by Marcin Gortat and sank two free throws with 14.4 seconds remaining to pull Boston level again. Wall and Beal missed in the dying seconds to send the game into over-time.
In the Western Conference, NBA season wins leader Golden State beat visiting Utah 106-94 in the opener of their second-round series.
Stephen Curry scored 22 points while Draymond Green and Kevin Durant each added 17 points and Klay Thompson had 15 as the Warriors showed no rust from a week off after a first-round sweep.
The Warriors scored the first nine points and would surge ahead 58-46 at half-time. Curry scored 16 first-half points while Durant and Thompson each added 10.
Utah stayed within 84-73 entering the fourth quarter, but the Warriors opened it with a 8-0 run as the Jazz missed their first six shots of the final period and Golden State pulled away to stay.
The Warriors were coached by assistant Mike Brown as Steve Kerr remained sidelined by complications following back surgery.