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1999 NBA Playoffs

Spur-tability

Streak Scope: San Antonio's playoff run unprecedented

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Posted: Friday June 11, 1999 12:06 PM

  Already a two-time NBA champion with the Houston Rockets, this would be Mario Elie's first with the San Antonio Spurs. AP

By Ryan Hunt, CNN/SI

The week that was for the San Antonio Spurs definitely was a week of firsts.

They advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. They became the first ABA team to go to the Finals. They swept consecutive playoff series for the first time.

Now, the Spurs are within reach of a couple of firsts in NBA history.

San Antonio has won 10 straight playoff games, one shy of the league record held by the 1989 Los Angeles Lakers. And with a third consecutive sweep, the Spurs would become the first team to go 15-1 in the playoffs and would hold the distinction of having the best single-season winning percentage in NBA playoffs history.

Only the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers went through the entire playoffs with only one loss, but they received a first-round bye and only needed to win 12 games to earn the title.

To put the Spurs' run in perspective, though, take a quick glance at nuggets from San Antonio's history.

Before this season, the Spurs had won five straight playoff games only once. They never completed a four-game sweep in 22 best-of-seven series (and only three sweeps in 36 all-time playoff series). San Antonio was 0-4 in its prior Western Conference finals appearances (1979, 1982, 1983 and 1995).

Tower of power
Most consecutive NBA playoff wins
Year Team Streak Title
1989
1999
1996
1982
L.A. Lakers
San Antonio
Chicago
L.A. Lakers
11
10
9
9
Lost
????
won
won
 

And two years ago, San Antonio won only 20 games in the entire regular season.

But for the 1999 Spurs, winning streaks are nothing new.

They won at least six straight games three different times in the condensed 50-game schedule, including a season-high nine-game tear in March. They won five straight to close the regular season to clinch the top spot in the Western Conference -- and home-court advantage. In all, San Antonio has won 42 of its last 48 games after starting the season 6-8.

Now, however, the Spurs are as hot as they have ever been. After all, the Spurs have won 10 games in a row only four times in the franchise's 23-year NBA history.

But when San Antonio lost Game 2 of its first-round series at home against Minnesota 80-71, the Spurs didn't have the look of a team that would tear through the Western Conference.

 
Turnabout
San Antonio since 6-8 start
Stat First 14 Last 48
Record
Points/Gm.
Win Margin
Field-goal Pct.
18+ Turnovers
6-8
87.9
+1.8
42.1
5
42-6
93.5
+9.9
46.6
4

Instead, they became the first Western team this decade to advance to the Finals with an 11-1 record. In the last three years, the Spurs had won nine playoff games combined.

And for the most part, they've done it with defense.

After allowing 84.7 points a game in the regular season, San Antonio has allowed a mere 81.7 points in the playoffs and held Portland to 76 points a game in the Western Conference finals, a playoff record for a four-game series. They held the Trail Blazers to 63 points in Game 3, a franchise record.

All that has put the Spurs in position to gun for another first -- the NBA crown.

 
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