Series sweeps are considered a show of force in the NBA. Considering that teams play in the best-of-seven series, it is very difficult to win four games without losing, at least, one. However, there have been a few situations where the teams who swept their opponents narrowly won the series!
In this article, we will revisit the three closest sweeps in NBA history. Many fans don't know it yet, but we had a chance to witness one of these series in 2022. More precisely, the first-round series between the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets was one of the closest sweeps of all time.
The Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets series was one of the closest sweeps
The Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets both had interesting seasons. The Celtics started the 2021/22 campaign slowly but managed to finish second in the East. The Nets, on the other hand, had a lot of drama to deal with, including Kyrie Irving's refusal of Covid-19 vaccine, and they finished the regular season with 44 wins.
The first game of the series was decided in the final second as Jayson Tatum scored a buzzer beater, helping Boston win the game by just one point. Game 2 had a seven-point difference, while the third game of the series was won by six points.
The Nets tried their best to avoid the sweep in Game 4, but despite 39 points by Kevin Durant, the Celtics prevailed and completed the sweep.
In the end, the average margin of victory was just 4.5 points per game, which puts this series as the third-closest NBA sweep of all time.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers - First round, 2017 NBA Playoffs
LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA championship after coming down from 1-3. This incredible phenomenon earned Cleveland its first NBA championship and established James as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. However, the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs was not as easy as it was supposed to be.
The Cavaliers finished second and met the Indiana Pacers in the opening round of the postseason. With one second left on the clock, the Pacers were down by a point and had a chance to win the game, but C.J. Miles missed an open shot from mid-range. Game 2 was a fantastic performance by the Cavaliers' Big Three, as Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and James combined for 89 points, winning the game by six points.
LeBron had an incredible triple-double in Game 3 with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. However, the Cavaliers still couldn't get much breathing room as the Pacers lost by only five points. The Pacers even had a two-point lead late in Game 4, but James' three-pointer put Cleveland up by one point with 1:08 to go and the Cavaliers held on to that lead until the final buzzer.
The average margin of victory in this series was only four points per game. Fun fact: Kyrie Irving was on both ends of the closest sweep in the modern era of the league. With the Cavaliers, he was victorious, but he didn't have the same result with the Nets.
Golden State Warriors vs. Washington Bullets - 1975 NBA Finals
Throughout more than seven decades, there have been nine sweeps in an NBA Finals series. However, the 1975 NBA Finals could have gone either way as this series was the closest sweep of all time!
The Golden State Warriors were led by Rick Barry who averaged 30.6 points per game and helped the team win 48 games. Their opponents were the Washington Bullets who won 60 games this season and were tied for the best record in the league. The Bullets were the favorites to win it all, especially after the Warriors narrowly made the NBA Finals after beating the Chicago Bulls by only four points in Game 7.
The Warriors ended up winning the series with a sweep, despite the Bullets putting up a great fight. Game 1 was won by six points, while the Warriors won the second game of the series by only a single point. The Game 3 victory was the biggest victory of the series as Golden State won it by 8, only to win Game 4 by a single point once again.
This series is at the top of the list of the closest sweeps in NBA history. Once again, the average margin of victory was only four points. However, unlike the clash between the Cavaliers and the Pacers, this series had two one-point games.
The Warriors have another chance to win a championship this year as they are up 3-0 against the Dallas Mavericks. Their opponent will be either the Miami Heat or the Celtics, who are currently tied 2-2. Considering that both these two teams are injured, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Warriors finish with another NBA Finals sweep!