Friday, June 7, 2013

NBA Finals: Winning Game One on the Road

By the hair of their chinny-chin-chin, the San Antonio Spurs edged the Miami Heat 92-88 to steal a game on the road and take home-court advantage in the NBA Finals. It's the second 92-88 game in Finals history, but more importantly, it's only the 17th time that the visitor has won the opening game of the championship series.

Home teams were 50-16 in Game One heading into Thursday night and riding an eight-game winning streak. Here are the first 16 road Game One wins. The games that are colored blue kick-started series victories while the home team recovered to win the title in the series that are marked in red.

Date Tm Opp Result
2004-06-06 DET @ LAL W 87-75
2001-06-06 PHI @ LAL W 107-101 (OT)
1995-06-07 HOU @ ORL W 120-118 (OT)
1993-06-09 CHI @ PHO W 100-92
1991-06-02 LAL @ CHI W 93-91
1988-06-07 DET @ LAL W 105-93
1984-05-27 LAL @ BOS W 115-109
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/7/2013.

Date Tm Opp Result
1982-05-27 LAL @ PHI W 124-117
1975-05-18 GSW @ WSB W 101-95
1974-04-28 BOS @ MIL W 98-83
1972-04-26 NYK @ LAL W 114-92
1966-04-17 LAL @ BOS W 133-129 (OT)
1958-03-29 STL @ BOS W 104-102
1957-03-30 STL @ BOS W 125-123 (2OT)
1953-04-04 NYK @ MNL W 96-88
1950-04-08 MNL @ SYR W 68-66
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/7/2013.

Game One road winners are 8-8 in the series:

Won in Four: 1975 Warriors, 1995 Rockets
Won in Five: 2004 Pistons, 
Won in Six: 1950 Lakers, 1958 Hawks, 1982 Lakers, 1993 Bulls
Won in Seven: 1974 Celtics
Lost in Seven: 1957 Hawks, 1966 Lakers, 1984 Lakers, 1988 Pistons
Lost in Six:
Lost in Five: 1953 Knicks 1972 Knicks, 1991 Lakers, 2001 76ers

Four of the 16 teams dropped four straight to lose 4-1. At least the other four teams that lost the series pushed it to seven. In the case of the '75 Warriors and '95 Rockets, the road victory was a catalyst for a four-game sweep.

I just hope the rest of the games in this NBA Finals are as good as Thursday's. San Antonio will look to follow the example of two clubs that won Game Two on the road as well. The 1995 Rockets won both games in Orlando en route to the sweep. The 1993 Bulls won the first two in Phoenix, then lost two of three at home before going back to the desert to wrap up a three-peat.

Miami is almost in must-win territory on Sunday night, but if they pull out the win to even the series they'll be in pretty good shape. Just win one of three in Texas and you'd return home down 3-2 with two to play in your building.

But there's no denying how huge this was for the Spurs, doing something that only two teams had done in the last 17 years.

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