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5 NBA Champions Who Crushed the Competition on Their Way to the Title

NBA Champions
Ezra Shaw/Ronald Martinez/Stephen Dunn, Getty Images

The number one seed San Antonio Spurs are the talk of the NBA this week after they completed a sweep of the Clippers, bringing them into the Western Conference finals against the Thunder starting on Sunday.

The Spurs had previously swept Utah in the opening round, and they appear to be heavy favorites to bring home another crown. If the Spurs can continue this kind of dominance through the next two rounds, they’ll join the upper echelon of NBA champions who stampeded their way over the competition. Here’s a look back at five teams who had the easiest times getting their titles:

2001 LAKERS

Arguably the most dominant team ever to compete in the NBA playoffs, the 2001 Lakers knocked out the 76ers in five games in the Finals. That was the lone defeat issued to the Lakers in the entire postseason, as they marched to a total of a 15–1 record. Portland, Sacramento, and San Antonio posed no resistance to this franchise on its road to its championship repeat. They’d go on to sweep their way to another championship the following season against the Nets.

1999 SPURS

After a lockout-shortened season, drama unfolded in the Finals as the eighth-seeded Knicks made a run. However, their quest was cut short by a monstrous Spurs team led by Tim Duncan and David Robinson. The Knicks could only mange one win in the Finals. The Spurs at one point took 12 straight games, disposing of Minnesota 3-1, the Lakers 4-0, and Portland 4-0 as they routed their way through the Western Conference. Also noteworthy was that the team wound up playing more road games than home games. This team proved it could win anywhere, anytime.

1989 PISTONS

The Pistons met their match in the NBA Finals when they squared off with a Lakers team that didn’t drop a postseason game to that point. But the Lakers couldn’t keep up with Detroit in the Finals, as the Pistons ran away with a 4-0 sweep of their own. Detroit’s impressive run began with a 3-0 sweep of Boston, then followed by a 4-0 sweep of Milwaukee. In the Eastern Conference finals, the Bulls dealt them their only two losses of the playoffs.

1983 76ERS

This team was chock full of stars, led by Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, and Andrew Toney, and before the season started they got hold of Moses Malone. Malone would go on to become league MVP, as the Sixers soared to a 65-17 record. Before the postseason began, Malone predicted that the team would take “four, four, four” games, amounting to sweeps throughout the playoffs. His prophecy nearly came true — Philadelphia swept the Knicks, beat Milwaukee in five games and blasted the Lakers in four straight to take the title.

1971 BUCKS

Once you look at this team’s roster, it’s no surprise that it went on to win the championship in style in just the organization’s third season. Milwaukee went 66–16 during the regular season, thanks to the strong play from all-time great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. At guard, the Bucks fielded none other than Oscar Robertson. After disposing of the San Franscisco Warriors, 4-1, in the opening round, Milwaukee took care of the Lakers, 4-1, as well. In the NBA Finals, they swept the Baltimore Bullets, with no game closer than eight points. On the year, Abdul-Jabbar took home NBA MVP and NBA Finals MVP honors.

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