Wednesday, May 1, 2013

NBA Playoffs: Couldn't Sweep, But Clinch Back at Home

The New York Knicks had a chance to sweep their first round series against the Boston Celtics, but lost in overtime on Sunday. With J.R. Smith back from suspension, the Knicks aim to wrap up the series back at The Garden tonight.

The Oklahoma City Thunder also go for a series win tonight after failing to sweep away the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

Let's look at teams that went up 3-0 before losing Game Four on the road. How did they do with home court in Game Five?

Very well. 35 teams have been in the same spot that the Knicks and Thunder are in now and they were able to clinch in Game Five 28 times (80 percent) by an average of over 13 points. They're 25-4 since 1970.

Year Round Team Opp Game 5
2012 First MIA NYK Win 106-94
2011 First OKC DEN Win 100-97
2011 First MIA PHI Win 97-91
2011 First CHI IND Win 116-89
2010 First BOS MIA Win 96-86
2009 West Semis DEN DAL Win 124-110
2008 First SA PHX Win 92-87
2007 First SA DEN Win 93-78
2007 East Semis DET CHI Loss 108-92 Won Game 6 at CHI 95-85
2003 First DAL POR Loss 103-99 Lost Game 6 at POR 125-103, Won Game 7 at home 107-95
2001 West Semis SA DAL Win 105-87
2000 West Semis POR UTA Win 81-79
2000 West Semis LAL PHX Win 87-65
2000 East Semis IND PHI Loss 107-86 Won Game 6 at PHI 106-90
1997 East Finals CHI MIA Win 100-87
1996 East Semis ORL ATL Win 96-88
1994 West Semis UTA DEN Loss 109-101 Lost Game 6 at DEN 94-91, Won Game 7 at home 91-81
1987 West Semis LAL GS Win 118-106
1986 East Semis BOS ATL Win 132-99
1985 West Semis LAL POR Win 139-120
1985 East Finals BOS PHI Win 102-100
1984 East Finals BOS MIL Win 115-108
1983 West Semis SA DEN Win 145-105
1983 West Semis LAL POR Win 116-108
1983 East Finals PHI MIL Win 115-103
1980 West Semis LAL PHX Win 126-101
1973 East Semis NYK BAL Win 109-99
1973 West Finals LAL GS Win 128-118
1970 West Semis ATL CHI Win 113-107
1967 East Finals PHI BOS Win 140-116 **
1964 East Finals BOS CIN Win 109-95
1962 West Finals LAL DET Loss 132-125 Won Game 6 at DET 123-117
1958 East Finals BOS PHI Win 93-88 **
1951 NBA Finals ROC NYK Loss 92-89 Lost Game 6 at NYK 80-73, Won Game 7 at home 79-75
1947 Semis CHI WAS Loss 67-55 Won Game 6 at home 66-61 **

** I included the 1958 and 1967 East Finals and 1947 Semis despite the fact that they didn't have the same 2-2-1-1-1 home-court format. The Celtics, Sixers and Chicago Stags still missed a chance to sweep and played Game Five at home like all of the others.

What if Boston and/or Houston can pull out the road win to send the series back home for Game Six? The history is a mixed bag. The four teams since 1970 to avoid the sweep at home and win again on the road are 2-2 in the sixth game. The 1994 Nuggets became the first eight-seed to upset the one-seed in the first round and almost made history again in the second round. They stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to force a seventh game before falling to the Utah Jazz. In 2003 the Blazers pushed Dallas to the brink before succumbing to the Mavericks.

For a lesson in how to slam the door, the Knickerbockers only need to look to last spring's first round series against Miami Heat. New York staved off elimination in Game Four, but LeBron James and company sealed the deal in Game Five en route to the championship.

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