LOS ANGELES -- There have been eight sweeps in the 63-year history of the NBA Finals.
This will not be No. 9.
I write that with a fair degree of confidence. Which probably means you should empty your children's college tuition fund -- how's that going, by the way? -- and place it all on the Lakers in four.
But, seriously, despite the Lakers' Game 1 win and the Magic's Game 2 loss -- the latter a potential spirit-killer if there ever was one -- the broom will remain in the closet. While there has not been a single set of circumstances present in every sweep, a historical look suggests that the Magic will not become the ninth victim of four-and-out.
I was around for all of the sweeps -- by around I mean walking on planet Earth -- but don't feel qualified to speak about three of them since I wasn't close to the NBA: the 1959 Boston Celtics over the Minneapolis Lakers; the 1971 Bucks over the Baltimore Bullets; and the 1975 Golden State Warriors over the Washington Bullets. But I was covering the league to one degree or another for the other five.
So, here are some of the factors that have been present when sweeps occurred. Let's see how the Lakers stack up:
• One team is clearly and inarguably superior to the other.
That sounds obvious, but it's not always the case. I'd say that it's happened only in the last two sweeps -- the Lakers over the Nets in 2002 (New Jersey was the representative of an extremely weak East) and the Spurs over the Cavs in 2007 (ditto for Cleveland in that year).
• One coach is clearly superior to the other.
That happened in 2007 when the experienced
Obviously, he motivated his team in the two days between Games 1 and 2 to come out swinging. He has tinkered with matchups, given the quarterback role to the 6-foot-10
• One team is a lock-down defensive machine.
That describes the 1989 Detroit Pistons, who swept a very good Lakers team, as well as the 207 Spurs. A sweep is always possible when one team can consistently put the clamps on the other.
• One team has The Great Difference-Maker.
I'm not talking about the best player, a distinction that clearly belongs to L.A.'s
The best example is the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers, who swept the Lakers behind
• One finalist seems like a team of destiny.
I'd say the best example is the 1995 Houston Rockets, who swept the Magic. They had won the title the year before and no one expected a repeat. They were the sixth seed going into the postseason.
• One team has all the mojo.
The best example is those 1989 Pistons, who swept that Magic-Kareem-Worthy-
So, you put it all together and it doesn't spell sweep.
But the Lakers will still prevail in six. And, ultimately, that's all that matters, right?