Tag Archives: NBA Finals

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)

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Game Sevens: Will the NHL finals series match the NBA and go 7 games?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

English: Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Finals at the ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs took their NBA Finals series to a Game Seven with the Heat winning their second straight title. Now the question is: Can (or will) the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins take their Stanley Cup series to a seventh and deciding game?

Here’s a trivia question for you: When was the last time the NBA and NHL saw their finals series both go to a deciding seventh game in the same season? Answer to follow…

For the record, this was the 18th Game Seven in NBA Finals history and the first since 2010 when the Lakers beat the Celtics in seven games. If you compare the three professional leagues that have a seven-game finals playoff (major league baseball, the NBA and the NHL), the NHL has had the fewest Game Sevens since 1947 (when all three leagues were in existence at the same time) with 14. Major League Baseball has had the most Game Sevens with 26 since ’47.

Only once since 1947 have all three sports had a Game Seven decide their champion. That happened in 1955. The Brooklyn Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees in seven games to win the ’55 World Series; Syracuse won the NBA title in 1955 winning the championship in a seventh game victory over Ft. Wayne; and Detroit won the ’55 Stanley Cup playoffs over Montreal by winning Game Seven.

Other than 1955, there have been a handful of times when two of the three sports saw their title series go the distance with seven games. Major League Baseball and the NBA have gone seven games in the finals in four seasons (1952, 1957, 1960 and 1962… note it hasn’t happened in over 50 years); the NHL and MLB have gone seven games in the finals in six season (1964, 1965, 1971, 1987, 2001 and 2011).

Trivia answer: The last time the NBA and NHL final series both went seven games in the same year was in 1994. The Houston Rockets won the NBA title with a Game Seven win over the New York Knicks, and the New York Rangers won the NHL title in 1994 by defeating Vancouver four games to three. That’s the only other time other than 1955 that the NBA and NHL have seen their championship series decided in seven games in the same year.

One more stat: Although the NHL has had the fewest Game Seven final series since 1947, they have had the most since 2000. Since 2000 the NHL has had six finals series go the distance with seven games (it could be seven years if this year’s Chicago-Boston finals goes to a seventh game). Both the NBA and Major League Baseball have seen a seventh game finals series in three years.

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NBA Finals: LeBron, four score 20 and kudos to Mike Miller

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy

NBA Trophy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 2011-2012 NBA season came to a close last night with the Miami Heat winning the title with a 121-106 win over the Thunder. Here’s a look at a few interesting stats from yesterday’s game.

LeBron gets 26: LeBron led the Heat last night with 26 points. It’s not uncommon for one or more players to have a big scoring night when a team clinches their NBA title. Lat year, Dallas’ Jason Terry led the Mavs with 27 points in their title-clinching game against the Heat. Miami had great balance in their scoring last night (more on that in a moment), and James’ 26 was the 55th time in the NBA Finals that a player scored 25 or more points in a title-clinching game. There have, however, been 26 players who scored 30 or more points in the game when a team won their NBA title. That group is led by Bob Pettit, who had 50 points in 1958 when the St. Louis Hawks won their NBA crown. Following are the players who scored the most points in a title-clinching game:

50: Bob Pettit, St. Louis (1958)

45: Michael Jordan, Chicago (1998)

42: Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers (1980)

41: Shaquille O’Neal, L.A. Lakers (2000)

40: John Havlicek, Boston (1968)

40: George Mikan, Minneapolis (1950)

Four score 20: The Heat had four players score 20 or more points in last night’s game… James with 26; Chris Bosh, 24; Mike Miller 23; and Dwyane Wade 20. It was the fourth time since 1985 that a team had four or more players score 20+ points in an NBA Finals game. The other three:

Boston Celtics, June 11, 1987 (vs. the L.A. Lakers): Dennis Johnson, 25; Larry Bird, 23; Kevin McHale, 22; Danny Ainge, 21 and Robert Parrish, 21.

L.A. Lakers, June 4, 1987 (vs. the Boston Celtics): Byron Scott, 24; James Worthy, 23; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 23; Magic Johnson, 22 and Michael Cooper, 21.

Boston Celtics, June 7, 19985 (vs. L.A. Lakers): Robert Parrish, 26; Kevin McHale, 24; Dennis Johnson 22 and Larry Bird, 20.

Kudos to Mike Miller: Miller became the fifth player in NBA Finals history to make seven three-point shots in a game. He fell one short of the record of eight held by Ray Allen, who had eight in 2010. The others with seven three-pointers in an NBA Finals game: Allen in 2008; Scottie Pippen in 1997 and Kenny Smith in 1995.

Not many sports personalities come from South Dakota, where Miller is from. I have always had an interest in following Miller’s career since Miller was born in Mitchell and went to high school in Mitchell… and Mitchell, South Dakota is where I was born and lived for a year (before our family moved to Wisconsin). My father is from Mitchell and I remember back in the mid-1990s when my dad would still get the Mitchell paper sent to our house in Wisconsin that he would take about some high school kid named Miller who was going to be a big star in college and hopefully the pros.

So… congratulations Mike Miller, fellow Mitchell, South Dakotan! I’m sure the Corn Palace is rockin’ today.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

NBA Finals Game 5 history not necessarily a good omen for OKC Thunder

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Logo of the NBA Finals.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s all pretty simple: If the Heat win tonight, the series is over and they win the NBA title. If the Thunder win, we head back to Oklahoma City for Game 6 and the series continues for the Thunder on their home court. Yes, game 5 is important.

Now that I’ve stated the obvious, how about a little insight to what we can expect tonight. If you take a look at the history of the NBA Finals, there is good news and bad news for the Thunder. First, a little backstory. In the previous 65 NBA Finals, 30 of those series had one team with a 3-1 lead after four games. In 27 of those 65 series, the series was tied at 2-2; there was a four-game sweep in eight of the NBA Finals.

So the Thunder are the 31st team that will try to wipe out a 3-1 deficit in the finals. (The last NBA Finals that was 3-1 after four games was in 2009 when the Lakers had a 3-1 lead over Orlando. They won the series in five games.) Here’s a little good news for OKC:

* In the previous 30 Game 5s where the series was at 3-1, the away team won Game 5 14 times. The Thunder are the away team tonight.

* In the previous 30 Game 5s where the series was at 3-1, the team that was behind in the series was able to win Game 5 and send the series to a sixth game in 14 of those games.

* There have been 12 finals series where the team with the 3-1 lead in the series has the opportunity to win the series in Game 5 (similar to tonight’s scenario for the Heat). In those 12 series, the team with the 3-1 lead has won Game 5 and the title in seven of those series. In five of these series, the road team that was behind in the series won Game 5 extending the series to a Game 6. Here’s a look at those five series where the road team won Game 5 sending it to a Game 6… something the Thunder hope to accomplish:

1998: Utah, down 3-1, defeated the Bulls in Chicago in Game 5.

1967: San Francisco, down 3-1, defeated the 76ers in Philadelphia in Game 5.

1966: Los Angeles, down 3-1, defeated the Celtics in Boston in Game 5.

1963: Los Angeles, down 3-1, defeated the Celtics in Boston in Game 5.

1951: New York, down 3-1, defeated the Royals in Rochester in Game 5.

Note: In looking at the box scores from the five Game 5s listed above, it’s interesting to note that the teams that won Game 5 each got big games from their superstars. In Utah’s 1998 win, Karl Malone scored 39 of Utah 83 points in their win; in San Francisco’s 1967 win, Rick Barry poured in 36 in the victory; in the Lakers 1966 and 1963 wins, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West had big games (Baylor 41 in ’66 and 43 in ’63; West 31 in ’66 and 32 in ’63.) If the Thunder is to win tonight and send the series back to OKC, they may have to depend on monster games from Kevin Durant and/or Russell Westbrook.

Finally, here is the bad news for the Thunder:

* If OKC is hoping to win the series by winning the next three games, there is a stark reality that looms large. First, no team has won an NBA title after being down 3-1 in the finals series. Secondly, just getting the series to a Game 7 is not an easy task. Of the 17 NBA Finals that went the full seven games, 15 of those series went to a Game 7 after the two teams were tied 2-2 after four games. That means that only two finals series went to a Game 7 when a team faced a 3-1 deficit. The two games:

1966: The Lakers, down 3-1, forced a Game 7 but lost Game 7 95-93 in Boston.

1951: The Knicks, down 3-1, forced a Game 7 but lost Game 7 79-75 in Rochester.

What does all this mean? It’s an uphill battle for the Thunder. First, can they do what hasn’t been done in 45 years… get the series to a Game 7? Then, can they do what has never been done in NBA history… win the championship after being down 3-1 in the final series?

As “Bull Durham’s” Crash Davis would say, “You have to take them one game at a time.” It all starts with Game 5.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

NBA Finals: Russell Westbrook, Mario Chalmers and the 2-3-2 series format

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.

English: Mario Chalmers playing with the Miami...

Mario Chalmers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Miami Heat have taken a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals with a 104-98 win over Oklahoma City last night. They can wrap up the series at home on Thursday.

Miami got a 25-point effort from guard Mario Chalmers that helped offset the 43-point performance from Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. Here’s a few notes looking to Thursday’s Game 5 and a glance back at Westbrook and Chalmer’s big games last night.

The 2-3-2 format. The NBA went to the 2-3-2 format for the Finals series starting with the 1985 postseason. In the past 27 years of the NBA Finals, the team that hosts the middle three games has won the series only seven times; the Heat are looking to become the eighth. Dallas won last year’s title as the home team in Games 3, 4, 5 defeating Miami in six games. Here’s a few more stats looking back at the finals series since 1985 when the 2-3-2 format was instituted:

* The team that won both Games 3 and 4 has won 10 of 12 titles.

* Losing Game 5 would not be a good omen for the Heat. Since 1985, if the team hosting the middle three games of the series lost one (or more) of those three games, they won the series only four times. The last team to split the first two games on the road and then sweep the next three games at home were the 2004 Detroit Pistons.

* There have been three times when the team hosting Games 6 and 7 won both of those contests to win the title: 1988 (L.A. Lakers), 1994 (Houston) and 2010 (L.A. Lakers).

* If the series goes to a seventh game, the home team has won four and lost none since 1985.

* Of the seven times when the team that hosted the middle three games won the series, in five of those series the champion won Game 6 on the road.

Westbrook’s 43-point performance. Westbrook became the seventh player since 1988 to score 40 or more points in a finals game in a losing cause. The other six: Shaquille O’Neal, 44 (June 6, 2001); Michael Jordan, 44 (June 13, 1993); Isiah Thomas, 43 (June 19, 1988); Charles Barkley, 42 (June 11, 1993); Michael Jordan, 41 (June 18, 1993); James Worthy, 40 (June 13, 1989).

Mario Chalmers scores 25 points. A couple interesting stats about Chalmer’s 25-point game: In the short two-year LeBron James era in Miami, the Heat have now played in 10 NBA Finals games. Dwyane Wade has score 20 or more points in eight of those 10 finals games; James has scored 20+ in seven of those contests; the other member of the Big Three, Chris Bosh, has scored 20+ in one game. With his 25 points last night, Chalmers, became the first Heat player not named James, Wade or Bosh to score 20 or more points in a finals game. In fact, only two players not named James, Wade or Bosh have scored 15 or more points in an NBA Finals game for the Heat: Chalmers has now done it three times, Shane Battier did it twice this series.

In addition, the Heat have played 43 playoff games in the LeBron James era. Only two players other than the Big Three scored 20 or more points in one or more of those 43 playoff games: Chalmers has now done it four times (three times in the 2012 playoffs) and James Jones had 25 in a games last year against Boston.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp