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.
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-foot-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 to claim his second straight scoring title as the Lakers won 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.”
Central Division tiebreaker (for first place)
Minneapolis defeated Rochester
Central Division tiebreaker (for third place)
Fort Wayne defeated Chicago
Eastern Division semifinals
New York defeated Washington (2-0)
Syracuse defeated Philadelphia (2-0)
Central Division semifinals
Fort Wayne defeated Rochester (2-0)
Minneapolis defeated Chicago (2-0)
Western Division semifinals
Anderson defeated Tri-City (2-1)
Indianapolis defeated Sheboygan (2-1)
Eastern Division finals
Syracuse defeated New York (2-1)
Central Division finals
Minneapolis defeated Fort Wayne (2-0)
Western Division finals
Anderson defeated Indianapolis (2-1)
Minneapolis defeated Anderson (2-1)
Minneapolis defeated Syracuse (4-2)
Points — George Mikan, Minneapolis Lakers (27.4)
Assists — Andy Phillip, Chicago Stags (5.8)
FG% — Alex Groza, Indianapolis Olympians (47.8)
FT% — Max Zaslofsky, Chicago Stags (84.3)