The 2001 Los Angeles Lakers playoff run is widely known as the greatest of all-time, as the team went 11-0 to earn a spot in the NBA Finals.
They lost Game 1 of the Finals to Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers, but then Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and the rest of the Lakers elevated their play to an extremely high level, winning their next four games to win their second consecutive title.
No other team has been able to match their 15-1 record that postseason, until possibly now.
The Golden State Warriors are heading into the NBA Finals a perfect 12-0 this postseason. They are playing their best basketball of the season, and although they are facing a very good Cleveland Cavaliers team led by LeBron James, a sweep to finish the postseason 16-0 is not out of the question.
Devean George, who was a member of the 2001 Lakers Championship team, compared that team to this year’s Warriors, via Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group:
“They force you to play a perfect game and that was just the thing that we did too,” said Devean George, who played on three Lakers championship teams from 2000-02 and played for the Warriors in 2009-10. “We forced teams to really – like really – play perfect and really not make too many turnovers because if you gave us extra opportunities then it was going to be a bad night.”
Another member of that Lakers team, Ron Harper, believes that it does not matter how many games the Warriors lose in the Finals, as long as they win the championship:
“When Golden State was 73-9 (last year), they had a great year, but they didn’t win the NBA championship,” said Harper, who won five titles as a player, including three with Michael Jordan’s Bulls. “That’s like when New England went 18-0 and then they lost the Super Bowl. Who cares? You lost the Super Bowl. That’s what you play for.”
The Cavaliers have been equally as impressive this postseason though, as they head into the Finals 12-1, so beating them will not be an easy task for a Warriors team that features four All-Stars in Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Game 1 is set to take place Thursday evening at 6 p.m. Pacific time at Oracle Arena in Oakland.