2012 NBA Playoffs: Does sweeping the first two series lead to a title?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder have both taken 3-0 leads in their opening round series and the San Antonio Spurs have a two games to none lead in their first-round series. All three series have the potential to be four-game sweeps.

Here’s the question: Does sweeping the first two playoff series lead to an NBA championship? In NBA history, 11 teams have swept the first two playoff series. Of those 11, six have gone on to win the title. The last team to sweep the first two playoff series were the Orland Magic in 2010. They, however, lost the next series to the Boston Celtics and failed to reach the NBA Finals. The 2001 Los Angeles Lakers were the last team to sweep the first two playoff series and then win the title that year.

Following is a look at the 11 teams that went through their first two playoff series undefeated and where they ended up in the playoffs that season.

2010 Orlando Magic: Swept both Charlotte and Atlanta in four games in the first two rounds. Lost to Boston four games to two in the conference finals.

2009 Cleveland Cavaliers: Swept Detroit and Atlanta in the first two rounds. Lost to Orlando 4-2 in the conference finals.

2005 Miami Heat: Swept both New Jersey and Washington in four games in the first two rounds. Lost to the Detroit Pistons in Game Seven of the conference finals.

2001 Los Angeles Lakers: Swept Portland in a three-game series and then swept Sacramento in four straight in the conference semifinals. Swept the San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals. Defeated the 76ers in the Finals four games to one. They are the last team to sweep the first two rounds of the playoffs and win the NBA title.

1999 Indiana Pacers: Swept the Bucks in three games in the first round and swept Philadelphia in four straight in the next round. They lost four games to two to the New York Knicks in the conference finals.

1993 Chicago Bulls: They swept Atlanta in three games in the frist round, then swept Cleveland in four games the following round. Went on to win the NBA championship that year.

1989 Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers: The only time in NBA history that the two teams facing off in the finals swept both of their first two round series. The Pistons won the title after defeating the Celtics 3-0 in the opening round and then beating the Bucks 4-0 in the conference semifinals. The Lakers swept Portland in three in the first round and then disposed of Seattle in four straight in the next round. The Lakers are the only team to lose in NBA finals after sweeping their first two series.

1982 Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers swept the Suns 4-0 in their first series of the playoffs and then swept the Spurs in the conference finals. They went on to defeat the 76ers 4-2 in the finals for the title.

1950 Minneapolis Lakers: The Lakers swept the Chicago Stags in two games ( a best-of-three series) and swept the Fort Wayne Pistons 2-0 in the next round on their way to winning the league title four games to two over the Syracuse Nationals.

1949 Minneapolis Lakers: Swept the Chicago Stags 2-0 and the Rochester Royals 2-0 in the first two rounds before defeating the Washington Capitals four games to two to win the title.

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