With the San Antonio Spurs winning Game 5 and needing just one more victory to capture 2013 NBA championship, the Miami Heat are officially in trouble. Tied 2-2 in the series, the Heat had a great chance to take control of the Finals by beating the Spurs in San Antonio and putting all the pressure on Gregg Popovich and his crew. Now Miami's quest to repeat as NBA champion has to tangle with NBA history.
The Finals have been a 2-2 split 27 previous times in NBA history. Of those 27 times, the team that won Game 5 went on to win the Larry O'Brien trophy 20 times. That leaves LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat with a 25.9 percent chance of winning the next two games to repeat. Here are those 20 winners:
|2011||Dallas Mavericks||Miami Heat||6 games|
|2006||Miami Heat||Dallas Mavericks||6 games|
|2005||San Antonio Spurs||Detroit Pistons||7 games|
|2003||San Antonio Spurs||New Jersey Nets||6 games|
|1997||Chicago Bulls||Utah Jazz||6 games|
|1992||Chicago Bulls||Portland Trail Blazers||6 games|
|1985||Los Angeles Lakers||Boston Celtics||6 games|
|1984||Boston Celtics||Los Angeles Lakers||7 games|
|1981||Boston Celtics||Houston Rockets||6 games|
|1980||Los Angeles Lakers||Philadelphia 76ers||6 games|
|1977||Portland Trail Blazers||Philadelphia 76ers||6 games|
|1976||Boston Celtics||Phoenix Suns||6 games|
|1974||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||7 games|
|1970||New York Knicks||Los Angeles Lakers||7 games|
|1968||Boston Celtics||Los Angeles Lakers||6 games|
|1960||Boston Celtics||St. Louis Hawks||7 games|
|1958||St. Louis Hawks||Boston Celtics||6 games|
|1957||Boston Celtics||St. Louis Hawks||7 games|
|1954||Minneapolis Lakers||Syracuse Nationals||7 games|
|1952||Minneapolis Lakers||New York Knicks||7 games|
The winners of those 20 series finished it off in six games 12 times, meaning the Spurs have history on their side in terms of closing it out in Game 6 on Tuesday. And while history says the Heat are unlikely to win this series, the teams that have forced a Game 7 do end up having a pretty decent chance of pulling off the upset.
Teams that force a Game 7 after dropping Game 5 when there was a 2-2 split are 7-8 at winning the NBA Finals. Forcing a Game 7, both logically and historically, gives that team basically a flip of the coin to win the NBA title. Here are the seven teams that have pulled it off:
|2010||Los Angeles Lakers||Boston Celtics|
|1994||Houston Rockets||New York Knicks|
|1988||Los Angeles Lakers||Detroit Pistons|
|1978||Washington Bullets||Seattle SuperSonics|
|1969||Boston Celtics||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1962||Boston Celtics||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1955||Syracuse Nationals||Fort Wayne Pistons|
Since the NBA Finals moved to the 2-3-2 format in 1985, there have been 10 series that have been tied 2-2. The team that wins Game 5 has won seven of those series. The Lakers in 2010 were the last team to come back and win the Finals after dropping Game 5 to go down 3-2.
On Tuesday night, the Heat will try to keep their championship aspirations and their season alive in the hopes of getting a chance to become the fourth team since the implimentation of the 2-3-2 format to pull off the upset.