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Note to Bulls, Heat fans: First round sweeps don’t mean rings

Apr 22, 2011, 12:50 PM EDT

New Jersey Nets v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls fans are pretty cocky today — their teams are on the verge of getting first round sweeps. That means extra rest, players can sit home and watch opposing playoff games and be annoyed by the NBA talking ball ads just like the rest of us. It just means more time for Heat fans to crow about their team jelling at the right time.

Calm down.

First round sweeps do not equal rings. In fact, kind of the opposite. Last season only one team had a first-round sweep — the Orlando Magic. How’d that work out?

Since the NBA’s money-grubbing move to expand the  first-round series to seven games nine years ago there has never been an eventual NBA champion that swept to a first round series win.

2010 Los Angeles Lakers: 4-2 (Oklahoma City Thunder)
2009 Los Angeles Lakers: 4-1 (Utah Jazz)
2008 Boston Celtics 4-3 (Atlanta Hawks)
2007 San Antonio Spurs 4-1 (Denver Nuggets)
2006 Miami Heat 4-2 (Chicago Bulls)
2005 San Antonio Spurs 4-1 (Denver Nuggets)
2004 Detroit Pistons 4-1 (Milwaukee Bucks)
2003 San Antonio Spurs 4-2 (Phoenix Suns)

Half of them got out in five games, and no doubt some rest can be good for the body. But even having to play six or seven games is not a deterrent.

Being the best team at the end of the first round of the playoffs is about as meaningful as leading the Kentucky Derby as the horses head onto the backstretch. There is a whole lot of playoffs left, a whole lot more challenging matchups and bigger tests ahead.

But go ahead, enjoy being up 3-0. Pull for a sweep so your guys can get extra rest. Just don’t read much into it.

  1. pff - Apr 22, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    stupid story

  2. chitownbulls - Apr 22, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    I actually still have realistic goals for the Chicago Bulls. …To win the first round. This “Rose” era Bulls team has been booted from the first round the previous two years, so just getting out, regardless of all the newly inflated predictions and expectations, will be a huge accomplishment for this ball club. I do want them to get rested too. Especially after the Laimbeer/Mahorn like clubbing Derrick got last night from the Pacers front line.

  3. tbone2186 - Apr 22, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    Note to Kurt: Being scared won’t make the Lakers younger

  4. bils293 - Apr 22, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    Wow Kurt great story. Way to criticize teams for sweeping series. Maybe the bulls and heat fans are cocky because both teams have a realistic chance of making it to the finals and winning it all. maybe try criticizing some of the top seed teams who aren’t sweeping their series or playing as well

  5. sdboltaction - Apr 22, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    Whatever. Bulls and Heat wont make it to the championship this year anyway. Sorry.

  6. rdssc - Apr 22, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    According to most national media the Bulls aren’t really winning these games and they should be down 0-3. So they still have a chance.

  7. kmike82 - Apr 22, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    You’re going to bring up useless stats.. so will I

    1991 – Bulls 3 – 0 Knicks
    1992 – Bulls 3 – 0 Heat
    1993 – Bulls 3 – 0 Hawks
    1996 – Bulls 3 – 0 Heat
    1997 – Bulls 3 – 0 Bullets
    1998 – Bulls 3 – 0 Nets

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 22, 2011 at 8:45 PM

      kmike82, so you’re saying the Jordan Bulls were good? We knew.

      If you saw my inbox this morning, if you saw what I saw from Heat and Bulls fans, you’d think they were a little to high on their teams this morning. Round one is simply survive and advance.

      • philtration - Apr 22, 2011 at 10:04 PM

        You are right.
        It is so much better to lose games in the 1st round so you have to play more of them. Risk being eliminated or have a key injury just to make things interesting for those who don’t get it.
        I mean… it must make sense to you because you wrote this crap.

        I will tell you a little secret about basketball because it sounds like you need one Kurt….
        EVERY round is survive and advance.

  8. barklikeadog - Apr 22, 2011 at 6:48 PM


  9. goldkj - Apr 22, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    ‘Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls fans are pretty cocky today’

    That’s a very general statement. I haven’t gotten that impression at all. It’s hard as a fan to get too high or too low in the first round.

  10. davidly - Apr 23, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    The only correlation one can make with this stat is that it is harder to win 4 than it is 3. Interestingly, you don’t provide a list of teams that swept first round series in the first round from ’03-’10, though my guess would be, given that Orlando was the only team last year to do it, that it doesn’t happen very often.

    Based on the evidence you have provided in this post, a more appropriate correlative statement would be: “The champion has not been able to sweep the first round series.

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