This year’s World Series features a pair of teams, the L.A. Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, who are making their second Fall Classic appearances in the last 10 years. The Dodgers lost to the Houston Astros in last year’s World Series; the Red Sox won the championship in 2013.
With that being said, would you say that baseball has been a model of parity in the World Series over the past 10 years? How about the parity of the other professional sports… the NBA, NHL and NFL?
Let’s take a look at how many different teams have played for their sport’s championship in the last 10 seasons.
In the past 10 seasons, the professional league with the “best” parity in their title game/series is a tie between the NFL and NHL. Both of those leagues have seen 14 different teams play for the title in the last 10 seasons. Major League Baseball follows with 13 different teams playing in the World Series in the last 10 years. Not surprisingly, the league with the “least” parity is the NBA; in the last 10 seasons, only nine teams have played for the title in the NBA.
Only four franchises have played in four or more title games/series in the past 10 years: New England Patriots (NFL), Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA), Golden State Warriors (NBA) and the Miami Heat (NBA). All played in four title series games/series in the last 10 years.
If we look at how many teams have played in more than one championship title game/series in the last 10 years in the NBA, NHL, NFL or MLB, baseball has the most teams with six. They are followed by the NBA with five and both the NFL and NHL with four.
The teams that have played in two or more championship series/games in the last 10 seasons:
MLB (6): Boston, Kansas City, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco, St. Louis, Texas
NBA (5): Cleveland, Golden State, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami, San Antonio
NFL (4): Denver, New England, Pittsburgh, Seattle
NHL (4): Boston, Chicago, L.A. Kings, Pittsburgh
One final question: Which pro league has gone the longest without back-to-back title winners? If you answered baseball, you win the prize. The last back-to-back World Series champs are the New York Yankees in 1999 and 2000. The last back-to-back Super Bowl champs are the New England Patriots from 2004 and 2005. The NHL had back-to-back Stanley Cup winners in 2016 and 2017 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the NBA had back-to-back champions with the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018.
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.
It appeared that the Boston Celtics had the Miami Heat right where they wanted them in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Finals series… a 15-point lead in the second quarter, and a seven-point lead at halftime.
But the Heat overcame the largest deficit in their playoff history and took the Celtics into overtime to secure a victory in Game Two and take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Finals series.
Since 2003, there have been 106 conference finals games played. In 76 of those games the team that won either led at halftime or was tied for the lead at half, a .717 winning percentage. In the last three postseasons (2010-2012), there have been 26 conference finals games (through games of May 30, 2012). The winning team has led at half or were tied for the lead in 20 of those 26 games, a .769 winning percentage.
Miami overcoming a seven-point deficit in yesterday’s game ranks as one of the best 11 halftime comebacks in the last 10 years in conference finals play. Topping the list are the Orlando Magic which overcame a 15-point halftime deficit in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Final series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Following are the teams that overcame the largest halftime deficits to win a Conference Final playoff game since 2003.
Halftime Deficit, Team, Playoff Year, Game, Opponent
15: Orlando, 2009, Game 1 vs. Cleveland
12: Detroit, 2007, Game 2 vs. Cleveland
12: Dallas, 2006, Game 6 vs. Phoenix
11: Dallas, 2003, Game 5 vs. San Antonio
9: Dallas, 2003, Game 1 vs. San Antonio
8: Orlando, 2009, Game 4 vs. Cleveland
8: L.A. Lakers, 2008, Game 1 vs. San Antonio
8: San Antonio, 2003, Game 3 vs. Dallas
7: Miami, 2011, Game 5 vs. Chicago
7: Phoenix, 2005, Game 4 vs. San Antonio
7: Miami, 2012, Game 2 vs. Boston
Note: Thirty teams have lost conference finals games since 2003 after leading at halftime. Of the teams that lost those halftime leads in the conference finals, the San Antonio Spurs lost six games when they were leading at halftime. Following are the teams that lost the most conference finals games since 2003 when they had the lead at halftime.
Games Lost When They Had Halftime Lead in Conference Finals (since 2003), Teams
6: San Antonio
3: Oklahoma City, Dallas
2: Chicago, Detroit, Indiana
1: Boston, L.A. Lakers, Denver
Did you know? In the 2010 conference finals (Boston vs. Orlando and the Lakers vs. Phoenix) the team that led at halftime won all six games in both series.
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