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|2005 Chicago White Sox ››|
History is replete with teams that started the season well but couldn't sustain the momentum, resulting in a failure to make the playoffs or a quick out once they arrived. Their achievements wind up in the ash heap. But if a team can (choose the cliche) get hot at the right time, put it all together in the postseason or go on a run in the playoffs, you might have something special. You might also have the ingredients for a dominating postseason.
With the NHL and NBA playoffs squeezing out the chaff, both sports have candidates for total playoff domination. The tale of the Los Angeles Kings already is well known. They barely made the playoffs, qualifying as the final seed in the Western Conference.
But since then they have been unstoppable. Heading into Wednesday night's Stanley Cup finals opener against the New Jersey Devils, the Kings are 12-2 in the playoffs, including an eight-game winning streak. They pummeled the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks 4-1, swept the second-seeded St. Louis Blues and crushed the third-seeded Phoenix Coyotes 4-1. Goalie Jonathan Quick has the lowest goals-against average in the playoffs at 1.54, and the Kings, just the second No. 8 seed to make the finals, seem primed to run past the Devils for their first Stanley Cup.
But for all the hype around the Kings, the San Antonio Spurs could be even more impressive. The polar opposite of the Kings, the experienced Spurs calmly won the Western Conference by three games and tied for the NBA's best record. They're seeking their fifth NBA title in the last 14 years. And so far they've been perfect. The Spurs swept the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers with 4-0 routs, and they beat the trendy pick, the Oklahoma City Thunder, in the first two games of the Western Conference finals. That makes the grizzled Spurs 10-0 in the postseason, not to mention finishing the regular season on a 10-game winning streak. They haven't lost since April 11.
Even if the Kings sweep the Devils and wind up 16-2, they won't quite match two Canadiens teams. The 1968 and 1976 editions each went 12-1 when the playoffs included only three rounds, so that 92.3 percent winning mark is out of reach. Since no NBA champion has ever gone undefeated in the playoffs, the Spurs still have an outside shot of bypassing the 2001 Lakers' 15-1 record and the 1983 Sixers' 12-1 mark. But with the talented, driven Thunder in their laps and a potential NBA Finals matchup against the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics, it would be hard to bet on the Spurs overtaking those numbers.
In baseball, the Reds went 7-0 in winning the 1976 World Series, though that was before major playoff expansion. Since then, the 1999 Yankees and the 2005 White Sox went 11-1. And though the NFL can't be compared exactly because of the dearth of playoff games, the 1985 Bears outscored their opponents 91-10 en route to winning the Super Bowl, and the 49ers were even more overwhelming four years later at 126-26.
So, as if you needed more reasons to watch the NBA and NHL playoffs, it will be fun to see how the Spurs and Kings stack up among the Top 10 Most Dominant Postseasons.
|2005 Chicago White Sox ››|