What Are the Chances the Warriors Sweep the NBA Finals, Too?
The Golden State Warriors closed out the Western Conference Finals Monday night in San Antonio with a 129-115 win, completing a third straight playoff series sweep to earn a back-to-back-to-back trip to the NBA Finals.
That their return to the Finals was widely expected doesn't make it any less impressive. No matter how loaded a roster, the rigors of an NBA postseason are real: this is the first time since the NBA moved to the current playoff format in 2003 that a team has entered the Finals with a 12-0 playoff record.
It's hard to remember a team in the modern era reached the NBA Finals to less fanfare.
The Warriors are 27-1 over their last 28 games. In their 12 playoff contests, Golden State's 16.8 net rating in the playoffs was the best in the West. Next best was the Spurs...at 0.7. Their 16.3 average margin of victory is the highest for any team entering the NBA Finals, ever. Not to mention they own the best defensive rating of any playoff team.
Here's head coach Gregg Popovich, summing it all up after the Western Conference Finals:
pop speaking truth about the warriors pic.twitter.com/BVWw41G1za
— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) May 23, 2017
If you're yawning, you're not alone. The 2017 Western Conference playoffs, to this point, have been spectacularly uneventful because of the Dubs' dominance. And as the Warriors await an opponent from the Eastern Conference, we're currently projecting Golden State with a ridiculous 80.4 percent likelihood to win the NBA title.
Of course, should the Cleveland Cavaliers take care of the Isaiah Thomas-less Boston Celtics, excitement for a rematch of one of the NBA's best Finals series (plus the addition of one Kevin Durant) would warrant a serious uptick in fan interest. And, by most measures -- including our own -- a Cavs-Warriors Finals rubber match would be a long, hard-fought series.
Given Golden State's string of sweeps, though, it's worth at least wondering: what are the chances the Warriors sweep the NBA Finals, too?
So, we ran the numbers. And according to our algorithm, in a potential Cavs-Dubs Finals series, the probability of Golden State winning in four games over Cleveland is 16.2 percent, or about a 1-in-6 chance. (If the Celtics miraculously come back, the Warriors would have an even better shot: a 20.9 percent probability of winning the Finals in four games.)
An epic seven-game Finals would be much more fun. But should the Warriors somehow sweep through the entire playoffs and Finals, we'd have to start considering this 2017 Golden State squad in the conversation for Greatest Team Ever. Right?
The 2017 NBA Finals tip off on Thursday, June 1.