Basketball fans can argue whether the 2017 Golden State Warriors deserve recognition as the NBA’s best team ever. What is indisputable, however, is that the Warriors completed one of the most dominant postseason runs in the history of the four major professional sports.
The Warriors won a record 15 straight playoff games and nearly completed the postseason undefeated, losing only Game 4 of the NBA Finals. They clinched their second championship in three years Monday night with a 129-120 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5. They are only the second team since the NBA expanded to 16-team playoff format to lose only one game and the first to finish the postseason 16-1.
Often a dominant regular season team faces playoff difficulties. The 1965 Boston Celtics set an NBA record with 62 victories but barely held off the Philadelphia 76ers in a thrilling seven-game Eastern Conference finals (“Havlicek stole the ball!”). The unbeaten 1972 Miami Dolphins won their three postseason games by a combined 17 points. The 108-win New York Mets of 1986 survived an exhausting 16-inning Game 6 to eliminate the Houston Astros in the NLCS and then performed a Lazarus-like resurrection in Game 6 of the World Series before beating the Boston Red Sox in seven games.
And none of the record holders for wins in a regular season (the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2011 Settle Mariners in baseball, 1996 Detroit Red Wings in hockey, 2007 New England Patriots in football and 2016 Warriors in basketball) brought home the championship hardware.
Here are the most dominant postseason runs in the four major sports. Baseball teams required at least two rounds of playoffs, while football, basketball and hockey needed at least three.