Sweep Revenge: How Teams Bounce Back After Being Swept In The Playoffs.

The Hawks have avenged their playoff sweep at the hands of the Orlando Magic in 2010. They became the 9th team in the last 30 years win a series against the team who swept them in the playoffs the previous season. On the following table, teams in bold have achieved the feat and the teams in red got swept two years in a row by the same team.

                              Some notables about the table:

The 2001 Lakers swept all three teams they faced in the Western Conference Playoffs and then beat the same three teams a year later in the playoffs.


Playoff Sweeps: Some Are Worse Than Others.

What were the most competitive playoff sweeps of the last 20 years?  The table below displays them, as measured by average margin of victory.


Aside from the 1994 Bulls-Cavs series, an argument can be made that all these series were won because of the experience difference between the winning and losing team.  The talent gap between the winning and losing team was small, hence the close games, but the experience difference was astounding and allowed the winning team win every game of the series.  The 2000 Knicks-Raptors series was the most competitive.  That series was notable for a number of reasons; it marked the beginning of the end of the Knicks’ early to late 90s run, it was the last time the Knicks won a playoff game at the Garden, and it was the series that got Tracy McGrady his Orlando Magic max contract. 
Now we take a look at the least competitive playoff sweeps of the last 20 years as shown by the table below.


There seems to be no common rhyme or reason for these series, aside from the fact the Hawks and Heat combined to lose six of them and the Bulls seemed to have one every year of the championship run.  The Bulls did not play around with inferior teams in the first round; they knocked those teams out of their misery pretty quickly. Another notable is the Hawks playoff losses in 2009 and 2010; they were dominated by the Cavs and the Magic, respectively.  That stat and this year’s series against Orlando may speak volumes about the difference between Mike Woodson and Larry Drew.

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Hawks-Magic: The Hawks Had The Perfect Game Plan.

Tonight’s game between the Hawks and the Magic exposed Orlando’s biggest offensive weakness.  They played Dwight Howard straight up and stayed home on the Magic’s perimeter players.  Obviously, anyone who watches basketball knows that is the defensive game plan of choice against the Magic. 
The table above compares the difference in the Magic offense when Dwight scores less than 25% of their points and when he scores more.  The difference is astounding.  The Magic are 36-12 when he is less the 25% of the offense!  An astute observer would say, “Of course they lose more when he scores a higher percentage of the team’s points, that probably means the rest of the team is scoring fewer points in general.” However, in this instance, the stats don’t bear that out.  The team actually scores more points when he is scoring less, 100.9 points per game to 97.3 points per game.  Obviously, they need him to score; they can’t win if he only scores 10 points per game, but if he is scoring 35-40 points they’re  usually in bad shape.  The strategy of using single coverage on Dwight works because the Magic don’t have guys that create their own shots, they tend to hang around the perimter, and they don’t move well without the ball.  They are too dependent on him kicking out to the three-point shooter or the guy who passes to the three-point shooter.  I bet he has a lot of hockey assists.

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