NBA Playoffs 2012: Does Sweeping the First 2 Series Lead to an NBA Title?

Kobe Bryant
Kobe BryantDoug Pensinger/Getty Images
Jerry TappSenior Analyst IIIMay 5, 2012

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 2-0 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" rel="cbssports" target="_blank" href="">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 was the Orland Magic in 2010. They, however, lost the next series to the Boston Celtics and failed to reach the NBA Finals. The 2000-01 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 who went through their first two postseason series undefeated and where they ended up finishing that season.

2009-10 Orlando Magic

The Magic swept Charlotte and Atlanta in four games in the first two rounds and lost to Boston, 4-2, in the conference finals.

2008-09 Cleveland Cavaliers

Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O'NealMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Cavaliers swept Detroit and Atlanta in the first two rounds, but lost to Orlando, 4-2, in the conference finals.

2004-05 Miami Heat

Miami swept New Jersey and Washington in four games in the first two rounds and lost to the Detroit Pistons in Game 7 of the conference finals.

2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles swept Portland in a three-game series, swept Sacramento in four straight in the conference semifinals, swept the San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals and defeated the 76ers in the Finals, 4-1. The Lakers are the last team to sweep the first two rounds of the playoffs and win the NBA title.

1998-99 Indiana Pacers

The Pacers swept the Bucks in three games in the first round and swept Philadelphia in four straight in the next round. They lost, 4-2, to the New York Knicks in the conference finals.

1992-93 Chicago Bulls

The Bulls swept Atlanta in three games in the first round and then swept Cleveland in four games the following round. Chicago went on to win the NBA championship that year.

1988-89 Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers

This is the only time in NBA history that the two teams facing off in the Finals swept each of the their opponents in the first two rounds. 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 an NBA Finals after sweeping their first two series.

1981-82 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.

1949-50 Minneapolis Lakers

The Lakers swept the Chicago Stags in two games (best-of-three series) and swept the Fort Wayne Pistons, 2-0, in the next round on their way to winning the league title, 4-2, over the Syracuse Nationals.

1948-49 Minneapolis Lakers

Minneapolis swept the Chicago Stags, 2-0, and the Rochester Royals, 2-0, in the first two rounds before defeating the Washington Capitals, 4-2, to win the title.


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