The summer of 1949 solidified the professional basketball picture, with the six surviving NBL teams being absorbed into the BAA and the league being renamed the National Basketball Association.

Schayes and the Nats advanced to the Finals, but lost to Mikan's Lakers.

The league was split into Eastern, Central and Western Divisions. Syracuse, the only NBL team in the East, won that division behind the play of 6-8 Dolph Schayes, who averaged 16.8 ppg. Alex Groza averaged 23.4 for a new Indianapolis team that won the West, while George Mikan led the league again with 27.4 ppg and helped the Lakers win the Central Division.

With three divisions the Playoffs were a jumbled mess, with Minneapolis having to beat Chicago, Fort Wayne and Anderson to reach the Finals, while Syracuse had to defeat only Boston and New York to qualify for the title round. Syracuse had talented players like Schayes, Al Cervi and Paul Seymour, but couldn't handle the dominance of Mikan. Mikan, surrounded by other stars like Jim Pollard, Slater Martin, Bob Harrison and powerful Vern Mikkelsen, led the Lakers to another title in six games.

The Lakers had talent, and they also had the friendly confines of Minneapolis Auditorium, whose odd dimensions forced the game to be played on a court was narrower than the standard court by a few feet. That made Mikan and his teammates even more dominant defensively.

"They used to say that when Mikan, Mikkelsen and Pollard stretched their arms across that narrow court, nobody could get through," said Syracuse's Cervi. Teammate Seymour added, "Those three big guys made every court look narrow."