By missing their start to the series in the purest tradition of the Clippers, Tyronn Lue’s men find themselves down 2-0 against the Mavericks of Luka Doncic. Based on the history of the NBA, winning a series after dropping the first two games is extremely complicated. It becomes practically impossible when these two games have also been lost at home. However, four teams have achieved this feat, and it will be up to the Clippers to take inspiration from them to hope to become the fifth.
- In NBA history, 426 playoff series have seen a 2-0 scenario: on only 27 occasions, the led team managed to win the series (6.3%).
- In NBA history, 31 teams have won the first two games of an away series, for 27 qualifications (87.1%).
Here are the four teams that managed to come back from hell.
Phoenix Suns 1993
First round of the Playoffs against the Lakers: led 0-2, the Suns finally win 3-2.
The following : qualifying for the NBA Finals then losing to the Bulls 4-2.
The famous Suns team of 1993, the one that pushed Michael Jordan’s Bulls to their limits in the NBA Finals. But before playing on the biggest stage, the team of MVP Charles Barkley almost released after having won 62 games in the regular season, the best record in the entire NBA. In front, there were the terrifying Lakers of… Vlade Divac, Sedale Threatt and a James Worthy more far from retirement, victorious of only 39 games in regular. The sweep was scheduled, until the Californians took advantage of Kevin Johnson’s absence in the first game to win Game 1. Then Game 2. Wow! Knowing that the series is at the best of five games at the time, the Suns are on the brink and forced to win three games in a row, including two in Los Angeles. It was then that the Phoenix coach Paul Westphal (RIP) releases the biggest statement of his career: “We are down 0-2. I already know the next question, ‘Are you dead?’ No. We are going to win this series. We’re going to have a game on Tuesday and the next one is Thursday. We’re also going to win it and then we’re going to come back here and win the series on Sunday. And everyone will say how beautiful this series was. ” Guess what is happening. The Suns survive in California and equalize in the series under the impetus in particular of Barkley but especially of a good collective effort. Game 5, which ends in overtime, is finally ripped off by the Suns, with rookie Oliver Miller in the role of the hero.
In honor of Westy being elected into the @Hoophall..
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) April 6, 2019
Houston Rockets 1994
Western Conference semi-final against the Suns: led 0-2, the Rockets finally win 4-3.
The following : NBA champions with a victory in the final against the Knicks 4-3.
The following year, the Suns will experience what the Lakers have experienced against them in 1993. In the role of the executioner? Hakeem Olajuwon’s Houston Rockets, MVP and two-time Defender of the Year. Possessing home ground advantage in the Western Conference semifinals after finishing second in the regular season, the Rockets first spit twice in the fourth quarter. In Game 2, Houston let slip an 18-point advantage before losing in overtime. The local newspapers do not give any freebie and baptize Houston “Choke City” after the cracking in rule of the Rockets, which follows other big sporting disappointments of the various franchises of the city, in NFL and MLB. But “Choke City” will turn into “Clutch City”. The Rockets manage to get their heads out of the water in Phoenix by winning without shaking Game 3 and 4 despite a Kevin Johnson on fire in the face. Olajuwon, Vernon Maxwell, Kenny Smith and Cie impose their basketball while Charles Barkley connects the bricks. The fifth round also turns to the advantage of the Rockets, much superior that night, and then the series finally decides on a decisive seventh game in Texas, won by Houston 104-94 behind a monstrous Hakeem (37 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks) and a Sam Cassell in mode big nuts out of the bench (22 points). A month later, Rudy Tomjanovich’s men would clinch the first NBA title in franchise history by beating Patrick Ewing’s Knicks, also in seven games and after dropping 3-2. “Clutch City” we said.
Dallas Mavericks 2005
First round of the Playoffs against the Rockets: led 0-2, the Mavericks finally win 4-3.
The following : lost in the Western Conference semifinals to the Suns 4-2.
Attention, scandal in sight! We are in 2005, with a very hot Texan derby in the first round of the Playoffs. On the one hand, the Dallas Mavericks of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Co, fourth in the regular season. On the other, the Houston Rockets duo Yao Ming – Tracy McGrady, then in their very first season together and finishing in fifth place in the West. The first two games in Dallas turn to the advantage of the Rockets, carried in particular by a sensational T-Mac. The latter runs at more than 30 points and 8 assists on average, buries Shawn Bradley alive, and scores the basket that kills in the last seconds of Game 2. The Rockets have the series clearly in hand, it remains to conclude. Except that back at home, Jeff Van Gundy’s men let slip not one, but two games, with only four points each time. Infuriating! If McGrady continues his work, Yao is really embarrassed by the faults, which frustrates the coach of the Rockets, who is fined 100,000 dollars for inappropriate comments in the press. Game 5 is just as tight and the result remains the same: victory of the Mavericks 103-100 behind 23 points and 13 rebounds of Nowitzki and… the big awkwardness with the free throws of Houston. Incredible, a team has just won in front of its audience. The Rockets certainly manage to tie at home thanks to a huge T-Mac (37 pawns), except that Game 7 turns into a nightmare for Houston, with a loss of… 40 points (116-76). Dropped by their teammates, McGrady and Yao can only see the damage. You are probably wondering why we talked about scandal a few lines above, well know that this series is part of the Tim Donaghy affair. The disgraced former referee said years later the Dallas-Houston showdown had been somewhat rigged. Already, in the last moments of Game 5, there was a monumental error on the part of the referees, unable to signal an obvious exit from the field of Michael Finley. But above all, following complaints from Mavs owner Mark Cuban about Yao Ming’s supposedly illegal screens in the first two games, the latter was reportedly targeted by the referees to help Dallas revive the series. True or not, Houston fans no doubt have their thoughts on the matter.
It’s been 15 years since Tracy McGrady slammed on Shawn Bradley like this 🤭 pic.twitter.com/3DRVpXsxBM
– SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 25, 2020
Boston Celtics 2017
First round of the Playoffs against the Bulls: led 0-2, the Celtics finally win 4-2.
The following : loss in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Cavaliers 4-1.
On the Boston side, 2017 will forever be associated with Isaiah Thomas. The elf, author of a magical campaign on a regular basis with a bonus fifth place in the MVP rankings, guided the Celtics to first place in the Eastern Conference by scoring almost 29 points per game. Ready to export his talent on the big stage of the Playoffs, Isaiah is sadly struck by a family drama just before the start of the first round series against Chicago. Her sister dies in a traffic accident, IT is inconsolable. However, he finds the strength to go to the floors and shine. Despite a somewhat complicated start to the game, he scored 33 points with 6 rebounds and 6 assists in Game 1, all with an audience won over to his cause. But the Bulls, led by Jimmy Butler, end up winning against the Celtics necessarily a little disturbed by the events. The second game is also dominated by the Taureans under the impetus again of Butler, but also
des Splash Brothers of the duo Rajon Rondo – Dwyane Wade, without forgetting the legendary Robin Lopez. After a regular slammed under the orders of Fred Hoiberg (41 wins, 41 losses), the Bulls managed to engage the Playoffs mode and Boston is not there. Clearly, it smells of scorch, but the show is going to shoot in Chicago. The Greens regain their pride and the Taureans – deprived of Rajon Rondo for the rest of the series due to a broken thumb – fall back into their pitfalls. After a speech of encouragement from former Celtic Kevin Garnett, Brad Stevens ‘men take Game 3 on the score of 104-87, then a well-tended Game 4 behind Thomas’ 33 points. The Celtics are on and the Bulls can’t stop them. IT and his friends made the difference in the last quarter of Game 5, won 108-97 with great contributions from Al Horford and Avery Bradley. An Avery Bradley who is once again decisive in the sixth round (23 points) in Chicago, while Dwyane Wade dives (2 points, 1/10 shooting) like his Bulls. +22 for Boston, 4-2 final score of the series. A qualification dedicated to Chyna Thomas, probably very proud of the performance of her big brother, whom she observed from up there.
It’s been three years since Isaiah Thomas suited up for Boston a day after his sister Chyna died in a car accident.
IT dropped 33 in her honor 🙏 pic.twitter.com/IIXICpT669
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 16, 2020
If the Clippers need inspiration ahead of Game 3 in Dallas this Friday, these are the kinds of stories they should look to. Kawhi Leonard and his teammates have the talent to turn their deficit to the Mavericks and win the series, but it takes more than talent to achieve this type of feat very rare in NBA history.
Source stats : CBS Sports, ESPN