Last season the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns faced off in the NBA Finals. This year, both of their seasons ended on the same day in the conference semis… and both lost in Game Sevens. To make matters worse, both the Bucks and Suns lost in blowouts (the Bucks lost to the Celtics 109-81, a 28-point defeat, and the Suns lost 123-90 to Dallas, a 33-point loss). The Game Seven blowouts suffered by the Bucks and Suns were among the worst Game Seven losses in NBA playoff history.
Since 1955, the start of the shot-clock era in the NBA, the worst Game Seven blowout was a 40-point win (116-76) by the Dallas Mavs over the Houston Rockets during the 2005 playoffs. Here’s a look at the 10 worst Game Seven blowouts in NBA history (since 1955):
2005: Dallas over Houston, 116-76, 40-point blowout
1970: LA Lakers over Phoenix, 129-94, 35-point blowout
2008: Boston over Atlanta, 99-65, 34-point blowout
2016: Miami over Charlotte, 106-73, 33-point blowout
2022: Dallas over Phoenix, 123-90, 33-point blowout (Phoenix home team)
2006: Phoenix over LA Lakers, 121-90, 31-point blowout
1992: Chicago over NY Knicks, 110-81, 29-point blowout
2022: Boston over Milwaukee, 109-81, 28-point blowout
2005: Indiana over Boston, 97-70, 27-point blowout (Boston home team)
2016: Toronto over Miami, 116-89, 27-point blowout
It’s interesting to note that of the 16 Game Seven blowouts of 20 points or more, 14 of those games were won by the home team. Dallas’ 33-point win over Phoenix in Phoenix is now the largest blowout won by an away team in Game Seven of a playoff series since 1955.
For the Bucks, their 28-point loss to Boston is their largest Game Seven defeat in team history. Prior to the Game Seven loss to Boston, the worst Game Seven loss for the Bucks was a 21=point loss to Atlanta 95-74 in the 2010 playoffs.
One final note: The Bucks have lost five Game Sevens by 15 points or more in their history. Three of those losses came at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
The Boston Celtics have regained home court advantage with their Game Four win over the Milwaukee Bucks on May 9. But based on history, the Game Four loss by the Bucks may mean that their 2021-22 season might be over later this week.
In their playoff history, the Bucks have played in 35 Game Fives (in seven-game playoff series). Their all-time record in those Game #5’s is 18-17. But here is the important stat: When they are ahead in the series 3-1, the Bucks are 8-0 in Game Fives; when the series is tied at 2-2, the Bucks are 6-11 in Game 5. That is a significant difference.
Here is a few other stats you might find interesting about Game 5 in the Bucks post-season history:
- Milwaukee has played 16 Game 5 home games and have a record of 11-5 (.688). In their 19 Game 5’s on the road, the Bucks are 7-12 (.368).
- As stated above, up 3-1 in a series, the Bucks are 8-0 in game 5; tied at 2-2, the Bucks are 6-11. Behind 3-1 in a playoff series, the Bucks are 4-6 in Game 5.
- The Bucks are 7-0 at home in Game 5 when up 3-1, 1-0 on the road in Game 5 when up 3-1.
- The Bucks are 4-4 in Game 5 at home when the series is tied 2-2, 2-7 on the road when the series is tied 2-2.
- The Bucks have won three straight Game 5’s: this season in the first round versus the Bulls and last year against Phoenix and Atlanta.
- They are 3-7 in their last 10 Game 5’s on the road.
- Milwaukee is 2-3 in Game 5’s versus the Celtics in their playoff history… Milwaukee lost in Boston in 2018 and won in Milwaukee in 2019.
- Milwaukee is 13-0 in Game 5 when they score 110 or more points. They are 3-14 in Game 5 when they score under 100 in Game 5.
- The Bucks are 5-7 in Game 5s played in May.
If you spent any time watching or listening to the Brewers in April, you know that pitching was at the forefront of the team’s first month success. The team compiled a 15-7 record (.682 winning percentage) in April and lead the National League Central by a couple of games over the Cardinals.
The .682 winning percentage in April was the fifth best in team history behind 1987 (18-3 .857), 1995 (4-1 .800), 1976 (9-3 .750) and 2014 (20-8 .714). The 15 wins is tied for eighth in club history; the 2014 squad’s 20 wins tops the list. It’s interesting to note that of the previous eight Brewers teams that won 15 or more games in April, four went on to make the playoffs that year: 2008, 2018, 201 and 2021.
The 15-7 record in April, however, did not come with any eye-opening hitting stats. In fact, save for a pair of blowout wins over the Cubs on the last two days in April (11-1 and 9-1), the Brew Crew’s offense was almost non-existent. They finished the month with a .223 team batting average, tied for the fifth lowest in team history in April.
That brings us back to the pitching staff. An outstanding April by the hurlers are what led the team. Consider this:
The 3.06 team ERA was the tenth best in team history…
The 11 saves in the month were tied for second most in team history…
The pitching staff averaged 10.3 strikeouts in April, second only to last year’s staff that averaged 10.35 in the first month…
The opponents’ combined batting average in April was .206, the second lowest in team history behind last year’s .204.
Don’t be a hater; be a Hader. Josh Hader was near perfect in April (he was recently honored as the top reliever in the N.L. for April). He had 10 saves in 10 opportunities, a 0.00 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 9.1 innings.
On April 17 in a win over the Cardinals, Hader notched his 100th career save with the Brewers, becoming the third Brewers reliever to reach the 100-career save mark (he joined Dan Plesac-133 and John Axford-106). Through games of May 2, Hader has tied Axford with 106 saves.
Hader became the 160th relief pitcher in MLB history to have 100 career saves. Of these 160 relievers with 100 or more career saves, Hader ranks first with 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings (Alroldis Chapman ranks second with 14.9); he ranks fourth in strikeout/walk ratio at 4.52 (behind Robert Osuna-6.33, Sean Doolittle-5.07 and Kenley Jansen-5.01); and Hader ranks first in WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) at 0.852.
Only time will tell if Hader remains a Milwaukee Brewer for his entire career, but of the 160 members of the 100 career save club, Hader is one of only six pitchers on the list who have collected all of their career saves with one club. The other members: Mariano Rivera, 652 with the N.Y. Yankees… Bob Stanley, 132 with Boston… Kazuhiro Sasaki, 129 with Seattle… John Hiller, 125 with Detroit… and Glen Perkins, 120 with Minnesota.
As mentioned above, Hader became the third Brewers relief pitcher to reach 100 saves with the team. Six MLB franchises top the list with six different pitchers with 100 or more career saves with the team: Cincinnati, L.A. Dodgers, Minnesota, N.Y. Yankees, San Francisco, Washington.
Over the past ten years (2012-2021) the Green Bay Packers have drafted 90 college players. Those picks have come from 58 different schools. Of those 58 colleges, 20 have had multiple players chosen by the Packers over the past decade. Topping the list is Mississippi State and UCLA, each with four players picked by Green Bay in the draft since 2012.
Here is a look at the schools that have had two or more players drafted by the Packers since 2012:
Four players: Mississippi State, UCLA
Three players: Alabama, California, Iowa, Michigan, South Florida, Stanford, Utah State, Wisconsin
Two players: Arizona State, Boston College, Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina State, Notre Dame. Ohio State, TCU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt.
Of the 22 players chosen by the Packers in the last ten years in either round one or two, the only two schools that have had two players chosen by the team in that timespan were Alabama and UCLA.
Looking at only first round choices by the Packers in the last 10 years, only one school, UCLA, had two players chosen. That was Datone Jones in 2013 and Kenny Clark in 2016.
Who are you picking in this year’s NBA playoffs?
From what I have read, the Phoenix Suns are a popular pick for this year’s title. The Suns had the best regular season record this season at 64-18, the only team to win 60 games this year. They have recent NBA Finals experience having lost to the Milwaukee Bucks last season in six games.
The Bucks have also been receiving some love for this year’s title as a few pundits are predicting the Bucks will be the first team to win back-to-back championships since the Golden State Warriors went back-to-back in 2017 and 2018.
There are also a handful of dark horse teams that could win the title. In the Eastern Conference, the seventh seed Brooklyn Nets and fourth seed Philadelphia 76ers could make long post-season pushes; the same with Memphis and Golden State in the Western Conference.
Is it possible that last year’s playoffs may help determine who will win the title this year? Can a team’s finish the previous year in the post-season predict what they might do this season?
For example, the Bucks won the title last year, but lost in the Eastern Conference semi-finals the previous season. When the Toronto Raptors won the championship in 2019, they also lost in the Eastern Conference semi-finals in the previous year
To further answer the question about whether a team’s previous year might have predicted their title the following year, I looked at the 22 teams that won titles this century. Of the 22 teams that won titles since 2000, almost half (10 of 22) played in the NBA Finals the year before they won the championship. Five were repeat champions: L.A. Lakers-2001, L.A. Lakers-2002, L.A. Lakers-2010, Miami-2013 and Golden State-2018.
Five teams since 2000 won a title the year after losing in the NBA Finals. The five: L.A. Lakers-2009, Miami-2012, San Antonio-2014, Cleveland-2016 and Golden State-2017.
The most common scenario, however, was six teams won the title the year after losing in a conference semi-final. Here is a breakdown of how each champion in the 2000’s ended their season the year before their title:
Lost in the conference semi-finals the previous year…6 times
Won the title the previous year…5 times
Lost in the NBA Finals the previous year…5 times
Lost in the conference finals the previous year…2 times
Lost in the conference first round the previous year …2 times
Did not make the playoffs the year before they won the title…2 times
If we try to predict the 2022 NBA champion based on the previous 22 years, picking either the Bucks or the Suns is a good bet since 10 of the 22 champs since 2000 played in the NBA Finals the previous year. But losing in the conference semi-finals was also a strong indicator, happening six times in the 22 years. If you are looking for a team that might come out of that scenario, four playoff teams this year lost in the conference semi-finals last season: Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Utah and Denver.
If you are looking for a long shot based on these numbers, the Atlanta Hawks are the only 2022 playoff team that lost in a conference final last year; four 2022 playoff teams lost in the first round of the playoffs last season (Miami, Boston, Memphis, and Dallas).
Only two teams since 2000 have won a title after missing the playoffs the previous season: Boston-2008 and the L.A. Lakers in 2020. Five of the 16 teams remaining in the playoffs this year missed the playoffs last season: Toronto, Chicago, Golden State, Minnesota, and New Orleans. Is it possible one of those five could make a push for this year’s title?