NBA Finals: Spurs' Game 5 win puts Heat at historical disadvantage

James and Wade find themselves in historical peril right now. (USATSI)
James and Wade find themselves in historical peril right now. (USATSI)

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.

CBS Sports Writer

Zach Harper likes basketball. Some would even say he loves it. He's also an enthusiast for everything Ricky Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Nic Cage, and has seen the movie Gigli almost three times. He's been... Full Bio

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