Toronto erased a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter last night to beat Indiana, 102–99, and take a 3–2 series lead. Pacers star Paul George scored 39, but DeMar Derozan answered with 34 of his own:
Ultimately, the Pacers' bench couldn't hold onto the lead George staked them, giving up a crucial 15–2 run in the final quarter. Drake was pumped:
While no NBA team has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series, eight have rallied from 3-1 and 15 from 2-0. (Six clubs have won a best-of-five series after dropping the first two games.) The Thunder joined that 15-team list when, after losing back-to-back games in San Antonio, they ripped off four consecutive victories. Kevin Durant-led Oklahoma City's comeback was made all the more impressive by the fact that the top-seeded Spurs had won 20 games in a row entering Game 3 of the series.
The Cavaliers became the third team to overcome a 2-0 hole in the conference finals. LeBron James famously scored Cleveland's last 25 points (and 48 overall) in a double-overtime victory in Game 5, and rookie second-round pick Daniel Gibson erupted for 31 in Game 6 as the Cavaliers won the last four games of the series to reach the NBA Finals for the first time.
Miami looked toast after losing the first two games and trailing Dallas 89-76 in Game 3. But Dwyane Wade scored 12 of his 42 points during a game-ending 22-7 run as Miami won 98-96, the first of its four consecutive victories en route to the franchise's first championship. Wade was named Finals MVP after averaging 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 steals.
While the Heat conquered a 3-1 deficit, this matchup between the two bitter rivals is remembered more for the Game 5 brawl that resulted in the suspension of five Knicks players, four for leaving the bench during a fight between teammate Charlie Ward and P.J. Brown. New York played without Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston and Ward in a Game 6 loss, and Larry Johnson and John Starks were absent when the Heat took Game 7 in Miami behind Tim Hardaway's (right) 38 points.
Defending champion Houston had to overcome a 2-1 deficit in its best-of-five first-round series with Utah just to set up a matchup with Phoenix. The Rockets then fell behind Charles Barkley & Co. 3-1 before two 30-point games from Hakeem Olajuwon helped Houston get even. The Rockets went on to win Game 7 thanks to a tiebreaking three-pointer from Mario Elie (right) in the closing seconds. This marked the second consecutive season that Houston erased a 2-0 second-round deficit against the Suns on its way to winning the title.
After finishing only 42-40 in the regular season and spotting Seattle a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, Dikembe Mutombo and Denver rallied for three straight victories (including an overtime road win in Game 5) to become the first No. 8 seed to topple a No. 1.
The series that gave us John Starks' electrifying baseline dunk in Game 2 ended with Chicago winning four in a row after an 0-2 start. Michael Jordan scored 54 points in Game 4 and recorded a triple-double in Game 5, the latter helping the Bulls break the Knicks' 27-game home winning streak. The Bulls proceeded to beat the Suns in the NBA Finals to complete the first of their two three-peats. Jordan announced his (first) retirement after the season.
Phoenix became the only team in NBA history to lose the first two games at home and then win the next three in a best-of-five series. The top-seeded Suns needed 31 points and 14 rebounds from Charles Barkley in a Game 5 overtime victory to eliminate a Lakers team that had finished 39-43 in the regular season.
The comeback itself wasn't that big, as the Lakers were down just 3-2 before winning Games 6 and 7 at home to secure their third title in four seasons. But those two games provided compelling theater. First, in Game 6, Isiah Thomas scoring 25 third-quarter points on a sprained ankle, but the Lakers overtook the Pistons in the final minute and won 103-102. In Game 7, with the injury limiting Thomas, the Lakers staved off the Pistons' late rally behind James Worthy, who finished with 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists.
This classic produced five games decided by two points or fewer, including the Celtics' three consecutive victories after they fell behind 3-1. Larry Bird, in his second season, hit a last-minute bank shot that proved to be the game-winner in Boston's 91-90 win in Game 7. The Celtics went on to beat Houston in the NBA Finals as Bird won the first of his three championships.
Portland joined the 1968-69 Boston Celtics as the only teams to win the NBA Finals after trailing 2-0 (the Heat became the third team in 2006). After a Game 2 loss that featured a fourth-quarter melee, the underdog Blazers ripped off four consecutive victories to seal their first and only championship. Finals MVP Bill Walton had 20 points, 23 rebounds, eight blocks and seven assists in the clincher.
In Bill Russell's final season as a player (he also served as head coach), Boston won its 11th title in 13 seasons only after erasing a 2-0 deficit and winning Game 7 in Los Angeles 108-106. The Celtics overcame the presence of first-year Laker Wilt Chamberlain and a scintillating series from Jerry West, who collected 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in the finale despite playing with a leg injury. West was named Finals MVP, the only player from the losing team ever to receive the award.
Photo: Tony Triolo/SI
Memorable NBA Playoff Series Comebacks
He had him beat to the bag. Wilmer Flores just made a bad throw.