The Warriors Were Dominant. But How Dominant?

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The Golden State Warriors have ruined basketball.

That opinion has been stated with conviction countless times since the team signed Kevin Durant before the 2016-17 season, and the notion gained traction as Golden State went about sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in this year’s N.B.A. finals, the ninth time that the championship round has ended in a sweep.

But if making a finals uncompetitive is the standard for ruining the sport, the Warriors may have been too late. The Milwaukee Bucks did a fairly good job of that in 1971, with a margin of victory in a sweep that lasted as a record for 47 years.

Led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who was still known as Lew Alcindor then), Oscar Robertson and Bob Dandridge, the Bucks demolished the Baltimore Bullets in the finals. Each of their stars took a turn leading the team in scoring, and only one of the four games finished with a margin of victory lower than 10 points.

The series included a 19-point victory for the Bucks on the road, and the closest they came to a competitive game was when they went up by 8 in the first quarter and then broke even the rest of the way.

But after that four-game sweep ended with a 12-point win in Baltimore, the news stories the next day did not include lamentations about the competitiveness of the game, or concerns for the sport’s future. They focused instead on Abdul-Jabbar’s and Robertson’s excitement about drinking Champagne in a locker room for the first time, and on Gene Shue, the coach of the Bullets, for casting blame for the sweep on his team’s exhaustion after having played a pair of seven-game series leading up to the finals.

“I still feel that at full strength we can beat the Bucks,” Shue said.

The Bucks outscored the Bullets by a combined 49 points, which this year’s Warriors topped by outscoring the Cavaliers by 60. The top four is rounded out by the Boston Celtics, who swept by a margin of 41 points in 1959, and the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983, who had a 40-point differential.

The relative lack of sweeps in the N.B.A. — by contrast, baseball has endured 21 sweeps of the World Series, 13 of which came after the N.B.A. was formed — makes fairly easy work of trying to compare the sweeping teams. Adding to the simplicity is the fact that the only N.B.A. team to pull off a sweep twice is the Warriors, who swept the Washington Bullets in 1975 thanks to dominant play by Rick Barry.

This season’s Warriors, when compared with the other sweepers, are notable in several regards beyond the margin of victory:

■ The statistics of offensive rating, defensive rating and net rating — which measure a team based on its points, and points allowed, per 100 possessions, giving more context than just raw points — have been tracked far enough back to compare all of the sweeping teams since 1975. In that span, the Warriors’ offensive rating of 124.6 is the best, beating the 120.6 of the Detroit Pistons in 1989. The Warriors’ defensive rating of 111.6 is the second-worst, but thanks to all of their scoring, their net rating (the difference between the offense and defense) of 16.1 demolished the previous record of 10.1, which was set by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002.

■ The Warriors had 27 more assists than the Cavaliers, topping the Bucks, who had 15 more than the Bullets. No other sweeping team managed a margin larger than six.

■ Despite the widely shared sentiment that Golden State’s 3-point shooting has resulted in an erosion of the game’s fundamentals, the Warriors shot 51.3 percent over all from the field, just barely missing the top mark among sweeping teams. It belongs to the Pistons, who shot 52.7 percent in their ’89 sweep of Magic Johnson’s Lakers. The 2006-7 San Antonio Spurs, the last sweepers before these Warriors, shot just 44.4 percent, and are one of five sweeping teams that made fewer than half of their attempts. To no one’s surprise, the Warriors set a record for 3-pointers in a sweep; their 51 easily topped the 37 by the Houston Rockets in 1995.

■ The Warriors took only 76 free throws and made 65. The makes were the second-lowest among the sweeping teams (the Spurs had 61 in ’07), and the attempts were the lowest. The eight other sweepers averaged 90 makes on 123.5 attempts.

■ The most intriguing statistic came in an area where the Warriors have not excelled. They finished with 26 fewer rebounds than the Cavaliers, becoming just the second sweeping champion to have a deficit in that category; the Rockets in 1995 finished with 11 fewer rebounds than the Orlando Magic.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page SP9 of the New York edition with the headline: By Some Measures, the Most Lopsided Sweep in Finals History. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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