In 2001, the Los Angeles Lakers had the greatest postseason run of all-time, cruising through the Western Conference at 11-0.
They lost Game 1 of the NBA Finals to the Philadelphia 76ers but then went on to win four straight to win their second consecutive NBA Championship.
Led by Phil Jackson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, their 15-1 record is the best postseason record in NBA history. It is now in jeopardy of being broken this season though, as the Golden State Warriors are 12-0 heading into the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With both the Lakers and Warriors sweeping the Western Conference, they received a lot of rest throughout the course of the postseason. That can be a blessing and a curse, as while players stay well rested, they may not be as sharp after going more than a week without playing a game.
Current Lakers assistant coach and former player Brian Shaw recently talked about how Lakers head coach Phil Jackson managed that rest during the Lakers 2001 run, via Phil Barber of the Press Democrat:
“Phil Jackson never liked to give us two days off in row,” he said. “It would be practice, day off, practice. He wanted us to stay sharp, didn’t want to wear us out. It was like a second season going that deep. But I wouldn’t even say we were rusty. Iverson had a hell of a game.”
Shaw also talked about that Game 1 loss to Philadelphia, where Eric Snow took a charge on Robert Horry that changed the course of the game, a play that Shaw said was “not in the spirit of the game.”
While it may have changed the course of the game, Shaw did not blame that one play for the team’s loss, although he did admit to having some regret about letting that game slip away.