May 30 • 9M

We Can Pod It Out 122: Dear Prudence

Bye, bye, Boston (and Dallas) (but mostly Boston)

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This will be only the seventh time since the start of the NBA’s conference finals, as such, in 1971, that one series was a sweep and the other went seven games.

So, for the rest vs. rust narrative… here’s how it’s gone historically.

  • 1982: Lakers swept Spurs, 76ers beat Celtics in 7… Lakers over 76ers in 6

  • 1987: Lakers swept SuperSonics, Celtics beat Pistons in 7 … Lakers over Celtics in 6

  • 1996: Bulls swept Magic, SuperSonics beat Jazz in 7 … Bulls over SuperSonics in 6

  • 1998: Jazz swept Lakers, Bulls beat Pacers in 7 … Bulls over Jazz in 6

  • 2001: Lakers swept Spurs, 76ers beat Bucks in 7 … Lakers over 76ers in 5

  • 2013: Spurs swept Grizzlies, Heat beat Pacers in 7 … Heat over Spurs in 7

The team coming off a conference finals sweep is 4-2 all-time against the team that played seven games to get to the Finals, with the two being the Bulls on their second three-peat, winning their sixth title in eight years; and the Heat winning their second title with LeBron James at the peak of his powers.

This isn’t really surprising. It’s really, really hard to sweep a conference final, as the Heat found out when they had to fight so hard to close out the Celtics.

Also, it’s very funny how close the Jazz came to losing three straight Finals to the same Bulls team. Not quite as funny as what happened to the Celtics last night, in front of everyone, and on video so we can all point and laugh forever. But funny.

And congratulations to Miami on joining the Stanley Cup Final/NBA Finals in the same market club… tracking back on that:

  • 2016 Bay Area: Warriors beat Cleveland, Sharks lost to Pittsburgh

  • 2013 New Jersey: Nets lost to San Antonio, Devils beat Anaheim

  • 1994 New York: Knicks lost to Houston, Rangers beat Vancouver

  • 1992 Chicago: Bulls beat Portland; Hawks lost to Pittsburgh

  • 1980 Philadelphia: 76ers lost to Los Angeles, Flyers lost to N.Y. Islanders

  • 1974 Boston: Celtics beat Milwaukee, Bruins lost to Philadelphia

  • 1972 New York: Knicks lost to Los Angeles, Rangers lost to Boston

  • 1958 Boston: Celtics lost to St. Louis Hawks, Bruins lost to Montreal

  • 1957 Boston: Celtics beat St. Louis Hawks, Bruins lost to Montreal

Nobody’s ever done the double, but three of the nine metropolitan dreams have ended in double defeat. If you had to pick one of the Heat or Panthers to pull it off, I think it’s the Panthers because of the outsize effect that Sergei Bobrovsky can have on games, and also I think we’ve seen through these playoffs, with all due respect to Jimmy Butler, and that’s plenty — the Heat simply do not have an answer for Nikola Jokic, and Denver seems a lot more Drederick Tatum than the Mike Budenholzer-coached Bucks (a real testament to Giannis’ talent that he won that title, jeez), the Julius Randle-led Knicks (it’s okay to be a very important player in the team’s transition from laughingstock to contender, and he’ll be fondly remembered as an ex-Knick), and of course, the case-study-in-buckling-under-pressure Celtics.

The Heat, while extremely good and deserving of being here, are not all that different in composition from the Lakers, with Butler and Bam Adebayo being analogous to LeBron and Anthony Davis, superstar duos surrounded by a bunch of dudes. The Lakers’ stars are better than the Heat’s, but the Heat’s dudes are better as a group because of how much they buy into being those dudes and doing all those Pat Riley/Erik Spoelstra things. Thing is, Denver’s deal is Jokic and Jamal Murray, plus a bunch of dudes, only the dudes include Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr., each of whom has it in them to be at Murray’s level and make it a true “big three,” if only they could do it consistently.

It’ll be a fun series, particularly because the Boston Celtics aren’t in it, after going 3-0 down in a series to an 8 seed, coming all the way back, including a miracle to win Game 6 on the road, then going into full Kevin McHale counting the bolts mode for Game 7.