Warriors, despite dropping game, historically dominant in series win over Rockets

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The Rockets stunned the basketball world.

By beating the Warriors once.

With a Game 3 upset, Houston upended the widely held assumption that Golden State would dominate a first-round sweep. But that altered only the series’ length, not the Warriors’ preeminence.

Golden State outscored the Rockets by 94 points in its 4-1 victory – a combined point difference topped by only one four-game sweep in NBA history.

Overall, the Warriors’ +94 ranks fourth among all series. The Thunder (who outscored the Mavericks by 91) and Spurs (who outscored the Grizzlies by 88) also produced historically lopsided series in this year’s first round.

Here’s every series in which a team’s combined point difference was at least 70:

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Series Scores
2009 first round: DEN d. NOH, 4-1 113-84, 108-93, 93-95, 121-63, 107-86
2010 conference semifinals: ORL d. ATL, 4-0 114-71, 112-98, 105-75, 98-84
1986 first round: LAL d. SAS, 3-0 135-88, 122-94, 114-94
2016 first round: GSW d. HOU, 4-1 104-78, 115-106, 96-97, 121-94, 114-81
2016 first round: OKC d. DAL, 4-1 108-70, 84-85, 131-102, 119-108, 118-104
2001 conference finals: LAL d. SAS, 4-0 104-90, 88-81, 111-72, 111-82
2016 first round: SAS d. MEM, 4-0 106-74, 94-68, 96-87, 116-95
1971 conference semifinals: MIL d. SFW, 4-1 107-96, 104-90, 114-102, 104-106, 136-86
2008 first round: BOS d. ATL, 4-3 104-81, 96-77, 93-102, 92-97, 110-85, 100-103, 99-65
1987 first round: LAL d. DEN, 3-0 128-95, 139-127, 140-103
1989 conference semifinals: PHO d. GSW, 4-1 130-103, 122-127, 113-104, 135-99, 116-104
1948 semifinals: PHW d. STB, 4-3 58-60, 65-64, 84-56, 51-56, 62-69, 84-61, 85-46
2013 first round: SAS d. LAL, 4-0 91-79, 102-91, 120-89, 103-82
1978 conference semifinals: PHI d. NYK, 4-0 130-90, 119-100, 137-126, 112-107
2015 first round: CHI d. MIL, 4-2 103-91, 91-82, 113-106, 90-92, 88-94, 120-66
1980 conference semifinals: BOS d. HOU, 4-0 119-101, 95-75, 100-81, 138-121
2009 conference semifinals: CLE d. ATL, 4-0 99-72, 105-85, 97-82, 84-74
1984 conference semifinals: LAL d. DAL, 4-1 134-91, 117-101, 115-125, 122-115, 115-99
1973 conference finals: LAL d. GSW, 4-1 101-99, 104-93, 126-70, 109-117, 128-118
2014 NBA Finals: SAS d. MIA, 4-1 110-95, 96-98, 111-92, 107-86, 104-87
2012 first round: MIA d. NYK, 4-1 100-67, 104-94, 87-70, 87-89, 106-94
1996 conference semifinals: UTA d. SAS, 4-2 95-75, 77-88, 105-75, 101-86, 87-98, 108-81

The Grizzlies’ injuries obviously contributed to the Spurs’ success. San Antonio probably would’ve won the series regardless, but it’s far less likely three of the games would’ve been cakewalks. Perhaps, the Mavericks could’ve put up more of a fight against the Grizzlies with more Chandler Parsons, Deron Williams and J.J. Barea.

Of course, injury also affected the Warriors. Imagine how badly they would’ve beaten Houston if Stephen Curry were healthy the whole series.

In the end, the Rockets played like a team ready for vacation, and Golden State was good enough to take – big – advantage.

(This post was updated to include Oklahoma City’s win over Dallas.)