Cavaliers beating Warriors in NBA Finals would be all-time upset

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LeBron James won’t call the Cavaliers underdogs to the Warriors in the NBA Finals, but Las Vegas does.

And so does historical precedent – in a big way.

Golden State (73-9) won 16 more games than Cleveland (57-25). That’s the sixth largest win difference between Finals opponents in NBA history.

In the 10 completed Finals with the biggest win difference, the favorite is 10-0.

The 1975 Warriors (48-34), who beat the Washington Bullets (60-22), pulled the largest upset by win difference – 12. The 1995 Rockets (47-35) topping the Magic (57-25) is the only other time a team with 10 fewer wins beat its Finals opponent.

Here’s each Finals matchup, sorted by win difference adjusted to put each team on an 82-game schedule – favorites winning in blue and underdogs winning in wine:

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Finals Adjusted win difference Favorite
2016 Golden State Warriors (73-9) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25) 16.0 TBD
2015 Golden State Warriors (67-15) d. Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29) 14.0 Won
2014 San Antonio Spurs (62-20) d. Miami Heat (54-28) 8.0 Won
2013 Miami Heat (66-16) d. San Antonio Spurs (58-24) 8.0 Won
2012 Miami Heat (46-20) d. Oklahoma City Thunder (47-19) 1.2 Lost
2011 Dallas Mavericks (57-25) d. Miami Heat (58-24) 1.0 Lost
2010 Los Angeles Lakers (57-25) d. Boston Celtics (50-32) 7.0 Won
2009 Los Angeles Lakers (65-17) d. Orlando Magic (59-23) 6.0 Won
2008 Boston Celtics (66-16) d. Los Angeles Lakers (57-25) 9.0 Won
2007 San Antonio Spurs (58-24) d. Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32) 8.0 Won
2006 Miami Heat (52-30) d. Dallas Mavericks (60-22) 8.0 Lost
2005 San Antonio Spurs (59-23) d. Detroit Pistons (54-28) 5.0 Won
2004 Detroit Pistons (54-28) d. Los Angeles Lakers (56-26) 2.0 Lost
2003 San Antonio Spurs (60-22) d. New Jersey Nets (49-33) 11.0 Won
2002 Los Angeles Lakers (58-24) d. New Jersey Nets (52-30) 6.0 Won
2001 Los Angeles Lakers (56-26) d. Philadelphia 76ers (56-26) 0.0 Even
2000 Los Angeles Lakers (67-15) d. Indiana Pacers (56-26) 11.0 Won
1999 San Antonio Spurs (37-13) d. New York Knicks (27-23) 16.4 Won
1998 Chicago Bulls (62-20) d. Utah Jazz (62-20) 0.0 Even
1997 Chicago Bulls (69-13) d. Utah Jazz (64-18) 5.0 Won
1996 Chicago Bulls (72-10) d. Seattle SuperSonics (64-18) 8.0 Won
1995 Houston Rockets (47-35) d. Orlando Magic (57-25) 10.0 Lost
1994 Houston Rockets (58-24) d. New York Knicks (57-25) 1.0 Won
1993 Chicago Bulls (57-25) d. Phoenix Suns (62-20) 5.0 Lost
1992 Chicago Bulls (67-15) d. Portland Trail Blazers (57-25) 10.0 Won
1991 Chicago Bulls (61-21) d. Los Angeles Lakers (58-24) 3.0 Won
1990 Detroit Pistons (59-23) d. Portland Trail Blazers (59-23) 0.0 Even
1989 Detroit Pistons (63-19) d. Los Angeles Lakers (57-25) 6.0 Won
1988 Los Angeles Lakers (62-20) d. Detroit Pistons (54-28) 8.0 Won
1987 Los Angeles Lakers (65-17) d. Boston Celtics (59-23) 6.0 Won
1986 Boston Celtics (67-15) d. Houston Rockets (51-31) 16.0 Won
1985 Los Angeles Lakers (62-20) d. Boston Celtics (63-19) 1.0 Lost
1984 Boston Celtics (62-20) d. Los Angeles Lakers (54-28) 8.0 Won
1983 Philadelphia 76ers (65-17) d. Los Angeles Lakers (58-24) 7.0 Won
1982 Los Angeles Lakers (57-25) d. Philadelphia 76ers (58-24) 1.0 Lost
1981 Boston Celtics (62-20) d. Houston Rockets (40-42) 22.0 Won
1980 Los Angeles Lakers (60-22) d. Philadelphia 76ers (59-23) 1.0 Won
1979 Seattle SuperSonics (52-30) d. Washington Bullets (54-28) 2.0 Lost
1978 Washington Bullets (44-38) d. Seattle SuperSonics (47-35) 3.0 Lost
1977 Portland Trail Blazers (49-33) d. Philadelphia 76ers (50-32) 1.0 Lost
1976 Boston Celtics (54-28) d. Phoenix Suns (42-40) 12.0 Won
1975 Golden State Warriors (48-34) d. Washington Bullets (60-22) 12.0 Lost
1974 Boston Celtics (56-26) d. Milwaukee Bucks (59-23) 3.0 Lost
1973 New York Knicks (57-25) d. Los Angeles Lakers (60-22) 3.0 Lost
1972 Los Angeles Lakers (69-13) d. New York Knicks (48-34) 21.0 Won
1971 Milwaukee Bucks (66-16) d. Baltimore Bullets (42-40) 24.0 Won
1970 New York Knicks (60-22) d. Los Angeles Lakers (46-36) 14.0 Won
1969 Boston Celtics (48-34) d. Los Angeles Lakers (55-27) 7.0 Lost
1968 Boston Celtics (54-28) d. Los Angeles Lakers (52-30) 2.0 Won
1967 Philadelphia 76ers (68-13) d. San Francisco Warriors (44-37) 24.3 Won
1966 Boston Celtics (54-26) d. Los Angeles Lakers (45-35) 9.2 Won
1965 Boston Celtics (62-18) d. Los Angeles Lakers (49-31) 13.3 Won
1964 Boston Celtics (59-21) d. San Francisco Warriors (48-32) 11.3 Won
1963 Boston Celtics (58-22) d. Los Angeles Lakers (53-27) 5.1 Won
1962 Boston Celtics (60-20) d. Los Angeles Lakers (54-26) 6.2 Won
1961 Boston Celtics (57-22) d. St. Louis Hawks (51-28) 6.2 Won
1960 Boston Celtics (59-16) d. St. Louis Hawks (46-29) 14.2 Won
1959 Boston Celtics (52-20) d. Minneapolis Lakers (33-39) 21.6 Won
1958 St. Louis Hawks (41-31) d. Boston Celtics (49-23) 9.1 Lost
1957 Boston Celtics (44-28) d. St. Louis Hawks (34-38) 11.4 Won
1956 Philadelphia Warriors (45-27) d. Fort Wayne Pistons (37-35) 9.1 Won
1955 Syracuse Nationals (43-29) d. Fort Wayne Pistons (43-29) 0.0 Even
1954 Minneapolis Lakers (46-26) d. Syracuse Nationals (42-30) 4.6 Won
1953 Minneapolis Lakers (48-22) d. New York Knicks (47-23) 1.2 Won
1952 Minneapolis Lakers (40-26) d. New York Knicks (37-29) 3.7 Won
1951 Rochester Royals (41-27) d. New York Knicks (36-30) 4.7 Won
1950 Minneapolis Lakers (51-17) d. Syracuse Nationals (51-13) 3.8 Lost
1949 Minneapolis Lakers (44-16) d. Washington Capitols (38-22) 8.2 Won
1948 Baltimore Bullets (28-20) d. Philadelphia Warriors (27-21) 1.7 Won
1947 Philadelphia Warriors (35-25) d. Chicago Stags (39-22) 4.6 Lost