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The Most Lopsided Series Sweeps of All-Time

Posted by Neil Paine on May 11, 2010

When the Orlando Magic put the finishing touches on their 4-game demolition of the Atlanta Hawks last night, it marked the 110th time in NBA history that one team swept another in a series of 3 games or longer. Several hours later, the Lakers added #111 to that list, ending Utah's season with an 0-4 series defeat. Both performances were impressive, so today I wanted to look at where they ranked in the pantheon of all 111 sweeps, and which series were truly the most lopsided of the lopsided.

One simple way to measure dominance would be to look at the average margin of victory in the sweeper's wins. Here are the most dominating sweeps of all time by that measure:

Year Round Games Winner Pts Loser Pts Margin/G
1986 WC1 3 LAL 371 SAS 276 31.7
1987 WC1 3 LAL 407 DEN 325 27.3
2010 ECS 4 ORL 429 ATL 328 25.3
1996 EC1 3 CHI 320 MIA 251 23.0
2001 EC1 3 CHH 302 MIA 235 22.3
2001 WCF 4 LAL 414 SAS 325 22.3
1985 WC1 3 LAL 408 PHO 347 20.3
1991 EC1 3 CHI 318 NYK 258 20.0
1987 EC1 3 DET 331 WSB 273 19.3
1978 ECS 4 PHI 498 NYK 423 18.8
1980 ECS 4 BOS 452 HOU 378 18.5
1992 EC1 3 CHI 352 MIA 298 18.0
2009 ECS 4 CLE 385 ATL 313 18.0
1996 ECF 4 CHI 406 ORL 339 16.8
2004 EC1 4 IND 405 BOS 338 16.8
1993 EC1 3 CHI 329 ATL 280 16.3
2009 EC1 4 CLE 374 DET 312 15.5
1995 WC1 3 SAS 325 DEN 279 15.3
1986 ECF 4 BOS 472 MIL 412 15.0
1995 WC1 3 PHO 349 POR 305 14.7
2001 WC1 3 LAL 311 POR 267 14.7
1986 WC1 3 HOU 331 SAC 288 14.3
1974 WCF 4 MIL 442 CHI 385 14.3
2004 WC1 4 SAS 390 MEM 334 14.0
2006 WC1 4 DAL 393 MEM 337 14.0
1986 EC1 3 BOS 380 CHI 339 13.7
1998 WCF 4 UTA 416 LAL 362 13.5
2008 WC1 4 LAL 459 DEN 406 13.3
1982 WCS 4 LAL 458 PHO 407 12.8
2004 EC1 4 NJN 387 NYK 336 12.8
2005 EC1 4 MIA 438 NJN 387 12.8
1996 EC1 3 ORL 305 DET 267 12.7
1997 WC1 3 UTA 315 LAC 277 12.7
1990 EC1 3 DET 312 IND 275 12.3
1971 FIN 4 MIL 425 BAL 376 12.3
1957 EDF 3 BOS 311 SYR 275 12.0
1989 WC1 3 LAL 357 POR 321 12.0
1990 WC1 3 SAS 379 DEN 343 12.0
1983 ECS 4 MIL 425 BOS 378 11.8
1989 ECS 4 DET 403 MIL 356 11.8
1996 WCS 4 SEA 442 HOU 395 11.8
1991 ECF 4 CHI 427 DET 381 11.5
1967 WDS 3 SFW 359 LAL 325 11.3
1991 EC1 3 PHI 336 MIL 302 11.3
1997 WC1 3 HOU 333 MIN 299 11.3
1987 WCF 4 LAL 459 SEA 414 11.3
1967 WDS 3 STL 346 CHI 313 11.0
2005 WC1 4 PHO 455 MEM 411 11.0
2007 EC1 4 CHI 399 MIA 355 11.0
1988 WC1 3 LAL 361 SAS 329 10.7
1989 EC1 3 DET 303 BOS 271 10.7
1995 EC1 3 IND 300 ATL 268 10.7
1996 EC1 3 NYK 271 CLE 239 10.7
2002 WC1 3 DAL 338 MIN 306 10.7
1985 EC1 3 DET 362 NJN 331 10.3
1986 EC1 3 MIL 348 NJN 317 10.3
1999 EC1 3 IND 317 MIL 286 10.3
1999 WC1 3 POR 308 PHO 277 10.3
2000 EC1 3 MIA 270 DET 239 10.3
1959 FIN 4 BOS 487 MNL 446 10.3
1968 WDF 4 LAL 482 SFW 441 10.3
1999 WCF 4 SAS 345 POR 304 10.3
1972 WCS 4 LAL 442 CHI 402 10.0
1983 FIN 4 PHI 442 LAL 402 10.0
1985 ECS 4 PHI 469 MIL 429 10.0
1989 WCS 4 LAL 431 SEA 391 10.0
1999 ECS 4 NYK 346 ATL 306 10.0
2003 ECS 4 NJN 405 BOS 365 10.0
1969 EDS 4 NYK 454 BAL 416 9.5
1989 WC1 3 PHO 366 DEN 338 9.3
1990 WC1 3 POR 329 DAL 301 9.3
2001 WCS 4 LAL 426 SAC 389 9.3
2002 FIN 4 LAL 424 NJN 387 9.3
2010 EC1 4 ORL 379 CHA 342 9.3
2010 WCS 4 PHO 438 SAS 401 9.3
1992 WC1 3 PHO 337 SAS 310 9.0
2003 ECF 4 NJN 363 DET 327 9.0
2005 ECS 4 MIA 414 WAS 378 9.0
2007 EC1 4 DET 388 ORL 352 9.0
1970 WDF 4 LAL 472 ATL 437 8.8
1982 WCF 4 LAL 484 SAS 449 8.8
2007 EC1 4 CLE 401 WAS 366 8.8
1989 WC1 3 GSW 342 UTA 316 8.7
1997 EC1 3 NYK 313 CHH 287 8.7
1993 ECS 4 CHI 394 CLE 360 8.5
1981 ECS 4 BOS 449 CHI 416 8.3
1984 WC1 3 LAL 333 KCK 309 8.0
1987 EC1 3 BOS 318 CHI 294 8.0
1999 WCS 4 SAS 387 LAL 355 8.0
1998 EC1 3 CHI 308 NJN 285 7.7
1957 WDF 3 STL 481 MNL 459 7.3
1992 EC1 3 BOS 345 IND 323 7.3
2010 WCS 4 LAL 437 UTA 408 7.3
1995 FIN 4 HOU 456 ORL 428 7.0
1989 FIN 4 DET 436 LAL 409 6.8
1994 EC1 3 CHI 304 CLE 284 6.7
1994 WC1 3 PHO 368 GSW 348 6.7
1997 EC1 3 CHI 303 WSB 285 6.0
2007 FIN 4 SAS 346 CLE 322 6.0
1977 WCF 4 POR 427 LAL 404 5.8
1991 WC1 3 LAL 297 HOU 280 5.7
1983 ECS 4 PHI 422 NYK 400 5.5
1989 WCF 4 LAL 460 PHO 438 5.5
1966 WDS 3 STL 339 BAL 323 5.3
1994 EC1 3 IND 291 ORL 275 5.3
2002 WC1 3 LAL 290 POR 274 5.3
1999 ECS 4 IND 365 PHI 344 5.3
1961 EDS 3 SYR 336 PHW 324 4.0
1975 FIN 4 GSW 398 WSB 382 4.0
2000 EC1 3 NYK 263 TOR 251 4.0
1989 EC1 3 NYK 325 PHI 317 2.7

I should note that the inverse of this concept was a post I did in March about the most competitive playoff series ever; in the follow-up to that post, I tweaked the measure to set the margin of all overtime games to zero, since that was the margin after 48 minutes. If we do the same thing here, does that change the results?

Year Round Winner W Loser W Margin/G
1986 WC1 LAL 3 SAS 0 31.7
1987 WC1 LAL 3 DEN 0 27.3
2010 ECS ORL 4 ATL 0 25.3
1996 EC1 CHI 3 MIA 0 23.0
2001 EC1 CHH 3 MIA 0 22.3
2001 WCF LAL 4 SAS 0 22.3
1985 WC1 LAL 3 PHO 0 20.3
1991 EC1 CHI 3 NYK 0 20.0
1987 EC1 DET 3 WSB 0 19.3
1978 ECS PHI 4 NYK 0 18.8
1980 ECS BOS 4 HOU 0 18.5
1992 EC1 CHI 3 MIA 0 18.0
2009 ECS CLE 4 ATL 0 18.0
1996 ECF CHI 4 ORL 0 16.8
2004 EC1 IND 4 BOS 0 16.8
1993 EC1 CHI 3 ATL 0 16.3
2009 EC1 CLE 4 DET 0 15.5
1995 WC1 SAS 3 DEN 0 15.3
1986 ECF BOS 4 MIL 0 15.0
1995 WC1 PHO 3 POR 0 14.7
2001 WC1 LAL 3 POR 0 14.7
1986 WC1 HOU 3 SAC 0 14.3
1974 WCF MIL 4 CHI 0 14.3
2004 WC1 SAS 4 MEM 0 14.0
1998 WCF UTA 4 LAL 0 13.5
2008 WC1 LAL 4 DEN 0 13.3
2006 WC1 DAL 4 MEM 0 12.8
1982 WCS LAL 4 PHO 0 12.8
2004 EC1 NJN 4 NYK 0 12.8
1996 EC1 ORL 3 DET 0 12.7
1997 WC1 UTA 3 LAC 0 12.7
1986 EC1 BOS 3 CHI 0 12.3
1990 EC1 DET 3 IND 0 12.3
1971 FIN MIL 4 BAL 0 12.3
2005 EC1 MIA 4 NJN 0 12.0
1957 EDF BOS 3 SYR 0 12.0
1989 WC1 LAL 3 POR 0 12.0
1990 WC1 SAS 3 DEN 0 12.0
1983 ECS MIL 4 BOS 0 11.8
1989 ECS DET 4 MIL 0 11.8
1991 ECF CHI 4 DET 0 11.5
1967 WDS SFW 3 LAL 0 11.3
1997 WC1 HOU 3 MIN 0 11.3
1987 WCF LAL 4 SEA 0 11.3
1967 WDS STL 3 CHI 0 11.0
2005 WC1 PHO 4 MEM 0 11.0
2007 EC1 CHI 4 MIA 0 11.0
1988 WC1 LAL 3 SAS 0 10.7
1989 EC1 DET 3 BOS 0 10.7
1995 EC1 IND 3 ATL 0 10.7
1996 EC1 NYK 3 CLE 0 10.7
2002 WC1 DAL 3 MIN 0 10.7
1985 EC1 DET 3 NJN 0 10.3
1986 EC1 MIL 3 NJN 0 10.3
1999 WC1 POR 3 PHO 0 10.3
2000 EC1 MIA 3 DET 0 10.3
1959 FIN BOS 4 MNL 0 10.3
1968 WDF LAL 4 SFW 0 10.3
1999 WCF SAS 4 POR 0 10.3
1996 WCS SEA 4 HOU 0 10.0
1991 EC1 PHI 3 MIL 0 10.0
1999 EC1 IND 3 MIL 0 10.0
1972 WCS LAL 4 CHI 0 10.0
1983 FIN PHI 4 LAL 0 10.0
1985 ECS PHI 4 MIL 0 10.0
1989 WCS LAL 4 SEA 0 10.0
1999 ECS NYK 4 ATL 0 10.0
1969 EDS NYK 4 BAL 0 9.5
1989 WC1 PHO 3 DEN 0 9.3
1990 WC1 POR 3 DAL 0 9.3
2001 WCS LAL 4 SAC 0 9.3
2002 FIN LAL 4 NJN 0 9.3
2010 EC1 ORL 4 CHA 0 9.3
2010 WCS PHO 4 SAS 0 9.3
1992 WC1 PHO 3 SAS 0 9.0
2003 ECF NJN 4 DET 0 9.0
2005 ECS MIA 4 WAS 0 9.0
2007 EC1 DET 4 ORL 0 9.0
1982 WCF LAL 4 SAS 0 8.8
2007 EC1 CLE 4 WAS 0 8.8
1989 WC1 GSW 3 UTA 0 8.7
1997 EC1 NYK 3 CHH 0 8.7
1970 WDF LAL 4 ATL 0 8.5
1993 ECS CHI 4 CLE 0 8.5
1981 ECS BOS 4 CHI 0 8.3
1984 WC1 LAL 3 KCK 0 8.0
1987 EC1 BOS 3 CHI 0 8.0
1999 WCS SAS 4 LAL 0 8.0
2003 ECS NJN 4 BOS 0 7.8
2010 WCS LAL 4 UTA 0 7.3
1989 FIN DET 4 LAL 0 6.8
1998 EC1 CHI 3 NJN 0 6.7
1994 WC1 PHO 3 GSW 0 6.7
1995 FIN HOU 4 ORL 0 6.5
1997 EC1 CHI 3 WSB 0 6.0
2007 FIN SAS 4 CLE 0 6.0
1977 WCF POR 4 LAL 0 5.8
1994 EC1 CHI 3 CLE 0 5.7
1991 WC1 LAL 3 HOU 0 5.7
1983 ECS PHI 4 NYK 0 5.5
1989 WCF LAL 4 PHO 0 5.5
1966 WDS STL 3 BAL 0 5.3
1994 EC1 IND 3 ORL 0 5.3
2002 WC1 LAL 3 POR 0 5.3
1999 ECS IND 4 PHI 0 5.3
1992 EC1 BOS 3 IND 0 5.0
1961 EDS SYR 3 PHW 0 4.0
1975 FIN GSW 4 WSB 0 4.0
2000 EC1 NYK 3 TOR 0 4.0
1957 WDF STL 3 MNL 0 3.7
1989 EC1 NYK 3 PHI 0 2.3

Not especially; none of the 20 most lopsided series by raw margin/G had any games go into OT. What if we also added a home-court advantage adjustment to the margins -- say, +/- 3.84 PPG, or the NBA's regular-season HCA from 1957-2010?

Year Round Games Winner Loser Margin/G
1986 WC1 3 LAL SAS 30.4
1987 WC1 3 LAL DEN 26.1
2010 ECS 4 ORL ATL 25.3
2001 EC1 3 CHH MIA 23.6
2001 WCF 4 LAL SAS 22.3
1996 EC1 3 CHI MIA 21.7
1985 WC1 3 LAL PHO 19.1
1978 ECS 4 PHI NYK 18.8
1991 EC1 3 CHI NYK 18.7
1980 ECS 4 BOS HOU 18.5
1987 EC1 3 DET WSB 18.1
2009 ECS 4 CLE ATL 18.0
1996 ECF 4 CHI ORL 16.8
2004 EC1 4 IND BOS 16.8
1992 EC1 3 CHI MIA 16.7
2009 EC1 4 CLE DET 15.5
1993 EC1 3 CHI ATL 15.1
1986 ECF 4 BOS MIL 15.0
1974 WCF 4 MIL CHI 14.3
1995 WC1 3 SAS DEN 14.1
2004 WC1 4 SAS MEM 14.0
1998 WCF 4 UTA LAL 13.5
1995 WC1 3 PHO POR 13.4
2001 WC1 3 LAL POR 13.4
2008 WC1 4 LAL DEN 13.3
1986 WC1 3 HOU SAC 13.1
2006 WC1 4 DAL MEM 12.8
1982 WCS 4 LAL PHO 12.8
2004 EC1 4 NJN NYK 12.8
1971 FIN 4 MIL BAL 12.3
2005 EC1 4 MIA NJN 12.0
1996 EC1 3 NYK CLE 11.9
1983 ECS 4 MIL BOS 11.8
1989 ECS 4 DET MIL 11.8
1991 ECF 4 CHI DET 11.5
1996 EC1 3 ORL DET 11.4
1997 WC1 3 UTA LAC 11.4
1991 EC1 3 PHI MIL 11.3
1987 WCF 4 LAL SEA 11.3
1986 EC1 3 BOS CHI 11.1
1990 EC1 3 DET IND 11.1
2005 WC1 4 PHO MEM 11.0
2007 EC1 4 CHI MIA 11.0
1957 EDF 3 BOS SYR 10.7
1989 WC1 3 LAL POR 10.7
1990 WC1 3 SAS DEN 10.7
1959 FIN 4 BOS MNL 10.3
1968 WDF 4 LAL SFW 10.3
1999 WCF 4 SAS POR 10.3
1967 WDS 3 SFW LAL 10.1
1997 WC1 3 HOU MIN 10.1
1996 WCS 4 SEA HOU 10.0
1972 WCS 4 LAL CHI 10.0
1983 FIN 4 PHI LAL 10.0
1985 ECS 4 PHI MIL 10.0
1989 WCS 4 LAL SEA 10.0
1999 ECS 4 NYK ATL 10.0
1989 WC1 3 GSW UTA 9.9
1967 WDS 3 STL CHI 9.7
1969 EDS 4 NYK BAL 9.5
1988 WC1 3 LAL SAS 9.4
1989 EC1 3 DET BOS 9.4
1995 EC1 3 IND ATL 9.4
2002 WC1 3 DAL MIN 9.4
2001 WCS 4 LAL SAC 9.3
2002 FIN 4 LAL NJN 9.3
2010 EC1 4 ORL CHA 9.3
2010 WCS 4 PHO SAS 9.3
1985 EC1 3 DET NJN 9.1
1986 EC1 3 MIL NJN 9.1
1999 WC1 3 POR PHO 9.1
2000 EC1 3 MIA DET 9.1
2003 ECF 4 NJN DET 9.0
2005 ECS 4 MIA WAS 9.0
2007 EC1 4 DET ORL 9.0
1982 WCF 4 LAL SAS 8.8
2007 EC1 4 CLE WAS 8.8
1999 EC1 3 IND MIL 8.7
1970 WDF 4 LAL ATL 8.5
1993 ECS 4 CHI CLE 8.5
1981 ECS 4 BOS CHI 8.3
1989 WC1 3 PHO DEN 8.1
1990 WC1 3 POR DAL 8.1
1999 WCS 4 SAS LAL 8.0
2003 ECS 4 NJN BOS 7.8
1992 WC1 3 PHO SAS 7.7
1997 EC1 3 NYK CHH 7.4
2010 WCS 4 LAL UTA 7.3
1989 FIN 4 DET LAL 6.8
1984 WC1 3 LAL KCK 6.7
1987 EC1 3 BOS CHI 6.7
1966 WDS 3 STL BAL 6.6
1994 EC1 3 IND ORL 6.6
1995 FIN 4 HOU ORL 6.5
2007 FIN 4 SAS CLE 6.0
1977 WCF 4 POR LAL 5.8
1983 ECS 4 PHI NYK 5.5
1989 WCF 4 LAL PHO 5.5
1998 EC1 3 CHI NJN 5.4
1994 WC1 3 PHO GSW 5.4
1961 EDS 3 SYR PHW 5.3
1999 ECS 4 IND PHI 5.3
1997 EC1 3 CHI WSB 4.7
1994 EC1 3 CHI CLE 4.4
1991 WC1 3 LAL HOU 4.4
2002 WC1 3 LAL POR 4.1
1975 FIN 4 GSW WSB 4.0
1992 EC1 3 BOS IND 3.7
2000 EC1 3 NYK TOR 2.7
1957 WDF 3 STL MNL 1.1
1989 EC1 3 NYK PHI 1.1

Finally, let's do a little mathematical trick to make sure all of the individual games in the series were lopsided, instead of just a blowout or 2... For every series, we can multiply the HCA-adjusted margins of victory for the individual games together and then raise that product to the 1/Nth power, where N = the number of games in the series (if the HCA-adj MOV is less than zero, set it to zero). This is called the Geometric Mean, and it has the effect of weighing each game separately and giving credit to the sweeps where the margins were big in all of the games, not just 1 or 2. Here are the most lopsided sweeps by this metric:

Year Round Games Winner Loser Product^(1/N)
1986 WC1 3 LAL SAS 29.2
2010 ECS 4 ORL ATL 22.1
2001 EC1 3 CHH MIA 21.5
1987 WC1 3 LAL DEN 21.3
1996 EC1 3 CHI MIA 20.7
2001 WCF 4 LAL SAS 20.3
1985 WC1 3 LAL PHO 18.5
1980 ECS 4 BOS HOU 18.2
2009 ECS 4 CLE ATL 17.7
1978 ECS 4 PHI NYK 16.4
2004 EC1 4 IND BOS 15.4
1992 EC1 3 CHI MIA 15.2
1993 EC1 3 CHI ATL 14.6
2009 EC1 4 CLE DET 14.4
1991 EC1 3 CHI NYK 14.3
2001 WC1 3 LAL POR 13.0
1995 WC1 3 SAS DEN 12.8
1974 WCF 4 MIL CHI 12.8
1986 ECF 4 BOS MIL 12.8
2004 WC1 4 SAS MEM 12.7
2008 WC1 4 LAL DEN 12.5
1982 WCS 4 LAL PHO 12.5
1987 EC1 3 DET WSB 12.4
2004 EC1 4 NJN NYK 11.8
1995 WC1 3 PHO POR 11.2
1986 WC1 3 HOU SAC 10.8
1996 EC1 3 ORL DET 10.7
1990 EC1 3 DET IND 10.6
2005 EC1 4 MIA NJN 10.5
1999 ECS 4 NYK ATL 9.9
1997 WC1 3 HOU MIN 9.8
1971 FIN 4 MIL BAL 9.8
1989 WC1 3 GSW UTA 9.8
1990 WC1 3 SAS DEN 9.8
1967 WDS 3 STL CHI 9.7
1983 ECS 4 MIL BOS 9.5
1991 EC1 3 PHI MIL 9.5
1996 ECF 4 CHI ORL 9.5
2006 WC1 4 DAL MEM 9.4
1989 WC1 3 LAL POR 9.3
1991 ECF 4 CHI DET 9.2
1989 WCS 4 LAL SEA 9.1
1986 EC1 3 MIL NJN 9.0
1988 WC1 3 LAL SAS 8.8
2010 EC1 4 ORL CHA 8.7
1972 WCS 4 LAL CHI 8.7
1999 WC1 3 POR PHO 8.5
1967 WDS 3 SFW LAL 8.3
1997 WC1 3 UTA LAC 8.2
1982 WCF 4 LAL SAS 8.2
2003 ECF 4 NJN DET 8.2
1969 EDS 4 NYK BAL 8.0
1981 ECS 4 BOS CHI 8.0
1985 EC1 3 DET NJN 7.8
2010 WCS 4 PHO SAS 7.8
2007 EC1 4 CLE WAS 7.8
2002 WC1 3 DAL MIN 7.6
2007 EC1 4 CHI MIA 7.6
1983 FIN 4 PHI LAL 7.4
2005 ECS 4 MIA WAS 7.3
1993 ECS 4 CHI CLE 7.2
2007 EC1 4 DET ORL 7.2
1989 EC1 3 DET BOS 7.2
1989 ECS 4 DET MIL 7.1
1995 EC1 3 IND ATL 7.0
2005 WC1 4 PHO MEM 7.0
1966 WDS 3 STL BAL 6.4
1994 EC1 3 IND ORL 6.4
1997 EC1 3 NYK CHH 6.3
1996 EC1 3 NYK CLE 6.2
2002 FIN 4 LAL NJN 6.2
1992 WC1 3 PHO SAS 6.1
1984 WC1 3 LAL KCK 6.1
2007 FIN 4 SAS CLE 5.9
1985 ECS 4 PHI MIL 5.9
1990 WC1 3 POR DAL 5.6
1987 WCF 4 LAL SEA 5.3
1983 ECS 4 PHI NYK 5.3
1998 WCF 4 UTA LAL 4.9
1989 WCF 4 LAL PHO 4.8
2010 WCS 4 LAL UTA 4.6
1994 EC1 3 CHI CLE 4.4
1994 WC1 3 PHO GSW 4.2
2002 WC1 3 LAL POR 4.0
1997 EC1 3 CHI WSB 3.6
1996 WCS 4 SEA HOU 3.3
2003 ECS 4 NJN BOS 2.9
1987 EC1 3 BOS CHI 2.3
1977 WCF 4 POR LAL 2.0

As you can see, by any measure the 2010 Magic's victory over the Hawks was one of the absolute most dominating single-series performances in the history of the NBA. The Lakers' brutal 1986 desecration of the Spurs consistently ranks as the #1 most dominant sweep ever, but Orlando-Atlanta 2010 has to be considered #2 or #3. Based on the regular season, you could have guessed that Atlanta would have a difficult time keeping up with the Magic, but I don't think anybody expected the series to be quite as lopsided as it ended up being. Now Orlando is halfway to fo'-fo'-'fo'-fo'... can they keep the streak intact vs. the Cavs/Celtics winner?

As for the other two 2nd-round sweeps, they were impressive relative to expectations but fairly ordinary by historical playoff sweep standards. The Suns never let the Spurs get especially close at the final buzzer in any of their 4 games, but they didn't really destroy San Antonio by epic margins like in some of the other sweeps on this list (their biggest win was by 14 points in Game 3). And the Lakers' sweep of Utah was almost notable for how close it was -- Utah lost the 4 games by an average margin of -7.3 PPG, which isn't historically low but is closer than average for a sweep.

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7 Responses to “The Most Lopsided Series Sweeps of All-Time”

  1. Mike G Says:

    Beating some patsies by 31.7 ppg over 3 games is not as impressive as averaging +25.3 in a 2nd-round series.
    Last year's Den-NO 5-game differential of 24.2 has to be in the comparison somehow. In the 4 Den wins, the average was +30.8

  2. Max Says:

    Um notice that the 2001 lakers sweep of the Spurs ranks high on all the lists. Also It happens to be the second highest 4 game sweep behind this current atl-orl one. Yet one minor detail. The Lakers swept the team with THE BEST RECORD IN THE LEAGUE, starting in the Spurs own building (obviously they had the best record) in the 3rd round (not the 2nd). Its not even remotely close. The most impressive sweep in history is the 2001 lakers-spurs wcf. (Since that team had won the 1999 title and 2003 title with the same core players)

    Also If u combine the homecourt with the geometric mean (i.e correct for home court then do a geometric mean) then I think the standings will adjust again in an interesting way.

    Shouldn't ginormous margins mean less anyway? once you are up 25 in the fourth quarter you sit your starters and the end result is hardly reflective of the core payers from either team and is therefore not indicative of how one-sided a series may ultimately be (in terms of what the numbers say) Numbers are far more accurate measures of teams worth in close series.

  3. ryan Says:

    Shouldn't the average margin of victory also be adjusted for pace?

  4. Ricardo Says:

    "Um notice that the 2001 lakers sweep of the Spurs ranks high on all the lists. Also It happens to be the second highest 4 game sweep behind this current atl-orl one. Yet one minor detail. The Lakers swept the team with THE BEST RECORD IN THE LEAGUE, starting in the Spurs own building (obviously they had the best record) in the 3rd round (not the 2nd)."

    THE BEST RECORD IN THE LEAGUE doesn't sound as impressive when you see that the Lakers were ONLY TWO GAMES BEHIND THE SPURS. By the time the series started, the teams had identical records.

    "The most impressive sweep in history is the 2001 lakers-spurs wcf. (Since that team had won the 1999 title and 2003 title with the same core players)"

    What does core mean to you, Laker guy? Only four of the players from the 1999 team played on the 2003 team.

    It's good that the Lakers have such a maniacal cult behind them, or else no one would know what awesome achievements they have under their belt.

  5. Ryan Says:

    Neil, anything re: adjusting for pace?

  6. Neil Paine Says:

    Sorry for not replying earlier -- if I included a pace adjustment, I'd have to limit the sample to series since 1991 (we don't have playoff game logs, and therefore can't calculate pace, for years before '91). The good news is that when dealing with margin of victory, pace is nowhere near as important as it is when working with points scored or points allowed alone, since each team has the same # of possessions. A blowout of equal absolute proportions by efficiency differential will appear bigger in a higher-pace game than it actually was, but the effect usually doesn't make a huge impact (that's why SRS works).

  7. MikeN Says:

    Celtcs over Atlanta in 7 games was pretty lopsided too. 12 ppg despite the losses.