By John Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
On Wednesday evening, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors on the road for a 2-1 lead in the 2019 NBA Finals best-of-seven series. It was the 59th time in NBA history that a finalist is up 2-1 after three games. In 47 of those cases the team with the lead ultimately went all the way, but in the other 11 the trailing side rebounded effectively for the title.
Since 2011, the leading sides aren’t as successful. The side up 2-1 after three matches only won the series twice, but the team behind managed to overcome the early deficit in the other four occasions. The Miami Heat in 2011, the San Antonio Spurs in 2013, the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 and the Warriors in 2016 proved the 2-1 lead isn’t enough.
The Celtics pave the way
In 1957, the Boston Celtics won their first of 17 Championships and did it in spectacular fashion. They fell behind 2-1 to the Saint Louis Hawks, but won the series 4-3 and became the first team to come back from a 2-1 deficit. They created a trend of turning around the series after getting into a 2-1 hole over the Los Angeles Lakers in 1962, 1969 and 1984.
Aside from the Celtics, in 1977 the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 4-2, in spite of their 2-1 deficit. One year later, the Washington Bullets went by the Seattle SuperSonics, 4-3, in a similar fashion. Almost three decades afterwards, the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat traded 2-1 turnarounds with the latter triumphing in 2006 and the Texans in 2011.
In 2013, it was the Heat’s turn to conquer the title overturning a 2-1 deficit against the San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors came back in the same way versus the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 and the Cavs answered with a 4-3 series win following the Warriors’ 2-1 lead in 2016.
The Warriors will host the Raptors on Friday in Game 4 action hoping to startup their comeback. Game 5 will follow at Canada on Monday. If necessary Game 6 will take place on Thursday at California and Game 7 on Sunday at Toronto.