Are Cavs, Warriors ready to make NBA history?

2015NBAFinals

With their overtime win last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Final series against the Atlanta Hawks. The Golden State Warriors have a 3-0 lead in their Western Conference Final series against Houston and will try for the four-game sweep tonight.

Since 1958 when the NBA went to a seven-game series for their conference finals, the NBA has never had two teams reach the NBA Finals with both winning their conference finals series via a sweep. Should the Cavs and Warriors both sweep their foes in the conference finals, it would be the first time in NBA history.

In 1958 the two teams that met in the NBA finals, the Boston Celtics and St. Louis Hawks, both won their conference finals series with a 3-0 sweep of their opponents. That was the last time NBA finals opponents each won their previous series with a sweep.

The last time a team won a conference title with a 4-0 sweep was in 2013 when the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Memphis Grizzlies. The Spurs went on to lose the NBA finals to Miami. In fact, of the 15 teams that swept their conference finals to reach the NBA Finals, only eight of those teams won the title that year.

Here’s a look at the 15 teams that have swept their conference finals series to reach the championship series and how well they did in the NBA Finals that year.

2013: San Antonio (lost NBA finals)
2003: New Jersey Nets (lost NBA finals)
2001: L.A. Lakers (won NBA title)
1999: San Antonio (won NBA title)
1998: Utah (lost NBA finals)
1996: Chicago (won NBA title)
1991: Chicago (won NBA title)
1989: L.A. Lakers (lost NBA finals)
1987: L.A. Lakers (won NBA title)
1986: Boston (won NBA title)
1982: L.A. Lakers (won NBA title)
1977: Portland (won NBA title)
1974: Milwaukee (lost NBA finals)
1970: L.A. Lakers (lost NBA finals)
1968: L.A. Lakers (lost NBA finals)

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

 

Is Jon Lester the worst hitter in MLB history? Today he is!

JonLester

After eight-plus seasons in Boston and a short stint in Oakland, Jon Lester became a free agent last year and eventually signed with the Chicago Cubs. Lester was one of the most sought-after free agents last year as a three-time all-star, a 116-67 pitching career record and three World Series victories. One thing, however, is that Lester’s bat was not one of the aspects of his game that attracted potential suitors in the off-season.

Lester went 0-for-three last night in the Cubs’ 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Big deal, right? Well with his 0-f0r-three night Lester is now 0-for-57 in his career as a batter. Add in an 0-for-five in post-season appearances at the plate and Lester has 62 career at-bats in his major league career without a hit.

Lester’s 57 at-bats in the regular season without a hit are currently the most of any player in MLB history. Of course, should Lester scratch out a hit in the near future his name will disappear from this list. But for now, Lester is the worst hitter in MLB history.

Following are the players who have had the most at-bats in MLB history without ever getting a hit.

Most career at-bats without a hit (last season they played in the majors)

57: Jon Lester (active)

41: Randy Tate (1975)

37: Tony McKnight (2001), Bo McLaughlin (1982)

31: Armando Galarraga (2012), Ted Davidson(1968), Charley Stanceu (1946)

29: Jose Contreras (2013), Andy Hassler (1985)

26: Daniel Carbrera (2009), Tony Pierce (1968), Von McDaniel (1958), Harry Ables (1911)

23: Brandon Morrow (active), Larry Littleton (1981), Mike Potter (1977), Nellie King (1957)

21: Carl Bouldin (1964)

20: Geraldo Guzman (2001), Eral Stephenson (1978), Dad Hale (1902)

* Of the players listed above, all are/were pitchers except for Littleton and Potter

 

Timberwolves finally get shot at NBA’s overall #1 pick

NBA Draft

The Minnesota Timberwolves will have the first overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. It will be the first time in the team’s 26-year history that get to choose first among the NBA’s 30 franchises. Prior to Tuesday’s lottery selection, the T-Wolves were one of eight current NBA franchises that had never had the number one overall pick in an NBA Draft. Can you name the other seven teams? (More on that in a minute.)

The Timberwolves had the NBA’s worst record this year at 16-66. Getting the number one overall pick is the highest they have chosen in the draft since 2011 when they selected Derrick Williams from the University of Arizona with the second overall pick.

Since 1947 when the Pittsburgh Ironmen selected Clifton McNeeley from the University of Texas-El Paso with the first pick of the draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers have had the most overall number one picks in draft history with six. Four of them have come this century.

Here’s a look at the franchises that have had the most overall number one picks in the history of the NBA Draft. (Note: Teams listed below are the current NBA franchise location.)

6: Cleveland

5: Houston, Sacramento

4: Milwaukee, New York Knicks, Portland, Washington

3: Atlanta, Golden State, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando

2: Brooklyn, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Antonio

1: Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, New Orleans, Toronto

0: Denver, Indiana, Memphis, Miami, Minnesota (have number overall pick in 2015), Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Utah

Of those franchises that have had the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have had the longest wait for another shot at the number one pick. The Celtics had the overall number one pick in 1950 (they chose Chuck Share of Bowling Green University). Next longest wait are the Detroit Pistons, who last had the overall number one pick in 1970.

Having the overall number one pick has been a good omen for a handful of teams. In fact, four teams had the overall number one pick in a draft and then won an NBA title within first five years of that pick. They are:

* The Milwaukee Bucks chose Lew Alcindor with the #1 pick in 1969 and then won the championship in 1971.

* Portland selected Bill Walton with the first pick in the 1974 draft and won the title in 1978.

* The Lakers chose Magic Johnson with the #1 pick in 1979 and went on to win the championship in 1980, 1982. The Lakers took James Worthy with the first pick in 1983 and also won the title in 1985 and 1987.

* San Antonio selected Tim Duncan with the number one overall pick in 1997 and won titles in 1999 and 2003.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

 

Want sports excitement? Try Game 7 overtime in the NHL!

Game7

Of the four major professional sports in the U.S. (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL), the NHL probably ranks last on the sports fan interest list. But if you are not a hockey fan, and specifically, an NHL fan, you are missing out on one of the most exciting aspects of sports: the Game 7 overtime game… hockey’s version of sudden death.

On May 13, the New York Rangers Derek Stepan scored an overtime goal in Game Seven of the Rangers series against the Washington Capitals. That goal advanced the Rangers into the Eastern Conference Finals.

That Game Seven OT goal was the 14th time since 2000 that an NHL series was decided in the final game of the series on an overtime score. It was also the fifth straight year that at least one NHL playoff series ended with a Game Seven OT goal; in fact, there were two such games in the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 NHL playoffs. With three NHL playoff series remaining to be played this season, could their be a second such game/series this year?

What makes these NHL Game Seven OT games so special is that they happen far more frequently than the other three sports. The NBA has had only two Game Seven series end in overtime since 2000; MLB has had only one seven-game series end in extra innings in Game Seven since 2000. (Of course, the NFL does not have multiple-game series, but there have been 17 playoff games that have ended in overtime this century.)

Here’s a brief look at some other stats from Game Sevens and overtime in the four major professional sports since 2000:

* There have been 66 series that have gone to a seventh game in the NHL since 2000.

* There have been 45 playoff series that have gone to a seventh game in the NBA since 2000. The only two series that ended in overtime of the seventh game since 2000 were in 2002 when the Lakers defeated the Kings in the Western Conference finals and in 2006 when Dallas won game seven in OT in their Western Conference semifinals against San Antonio.

* The only MLB seven-game series to end in extra innings since 2000 was in 2003. The New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 in 11 innings to win the American League Championship Series and advance to the World Series. They lost to the Florida Marlins in six games in the World Series that year. There have been 12 series that went seven games in the MLB post-season since 2000; four happened in the World Series, four happened in the ALCS, and four happened in the NLCS.

* Of the 17 NFL playoff games that have ended in overtime, four were a conference title game (the last was this past season when the Seahawks defeated the Packers), seven were in a divisional playoff contest, and six were in a Wild Card game. None of the Super Bowls since 2000 ended in OT; in fact, no Super Bowl game has ever gone into overtime.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

MLB players blessed with speed and a great eye at the plate

 

rickey-henderson

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to discover the secret to Rickey Henderson’s success in baseball: He had great speed and a great eye at the plate. That translated to a career where Henderson is not only the MLB career leader in stolen bases with 1,406 (he is the only player with more than 1,000 career steals) but he is also second all-time behind Barry Bonds in walks with 2,190.

That combination of speed and discernment at the plate makes Rickey the only player in MLB history to have over 1,000 steals and walks. But there are a few other players who have taken advantage of their own double-barreled threat at the plate and on the base paths. In fact, there are 10 players in MLB history who have at least 500 stolen bases and 1,000 walks. They are:

Player, Stolen Bases, Walks (last MLB season)
Barry Bonds, 514-2558 (2007)
Brett Butler, 558-1129 (1997)
Max Carey, 728-1040 (1929)
Ty Cobb, 897-1249 (1928)
Eddie Collins, 741-1499 (1930)
Rickey Henderson, 1406-2190 (2003)
Paul Molitor, 504-1094 (1998)
Joe Morgan, 689-1865 (1984)
Tim Raines, 808-1330 (2002)
Ozzie Smith, 580-1072 (1996)

Of the 10 players above, seven are in the Hall of Fame; the three that are not: Bonds, Butler and Raines.

Looking at today’s players, there are eight players who were active in 2014 that have 250 career stolen bases and 500 career walks. The eight:

Player, Stolen Bases, Walks
Melvin Upton, 264-531
Ichiro Suzuki, 490-573
Jimmy Rollins, 456-768
Alex Rodriquez, 322-1258
Hanley Ramirez, 262-514
Rafael Furcal, 314-643
Coco Crisp, 297-506
Carlos Beltran, 311-978

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

 

 

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