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History of NBA 1st Round Playoff Sweepers

By completing sweeps of their first round opponents, the Spurs and Cavaliers have bought themselves a few extra days of rest as they wait for their second round series’ to begin. Watching two of the top playoff contenders easily dispose of their first round opponents made me wonder how teams who sweep in the first round have performed historically and if the extra time off gives them an edge.

We looked back over the last the last 13 years, which is the length of time the first round has been a best of seven. 21 first round sweeps have happened during that span, and here’s how those teams finished out the playoffs:

How First Round Sweepers have done in the Playoffs
ResultNumber of Teams
Lost in Second Round5
Lost in Conference Finals7
Lost in Finals7
Won Finals2

The two first round sweepers to go all the way were last year's Golden State Warriors and the 2013 Miami Heat. 

Overall, Western Conference sweepers have a better track record than their Eastern Conference counterparts. Of the eight Western squads that swept their first round opponent, four went on to make the NBA Finals, while only three of 13 from the East made the Finals.

With only 10.5% of teams who earn a first round sweep going on to win the Finals, history might not be on the side of the Spurs and Cavaliers, but with the injury bug stinging the Golden State Warriors, their odds to buck this trend have received a nice boost. 

 

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