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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs: Which teams have come back from an 0-2 series deficit in the Conference Finals?

The Boston Celtics have lost the first two games of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat by a combined margin of just eight points. They lost Game 1 117-114 in overtime and in Game 2, they squandered a 17-point first-half lead to eventually trail 0-2 in the series.

With the possibility of Gordon Hayward playing a few games and the C's finding their adjustments, they stand a chance at making history. It's a short list of teams that have rebounded from an 0-2 series deficit in the Conference Finals and Boston stands a chance of joining that group.

In total, teams are 6-52 in those situations. Before the Celtics look to become the seventh team to complete the 2-0 comeback, here are the six teams that have...

Baltimore Bullets vs. New York Knicks - 1971 East Finals

After losing Game 1 by just one point and Game 2 by 19, the second-seeded Bullets stunned the top-seeded Knicks by double digits as the series went to Baltimore, by 26 points in Game 3 and 21 points in Game 4.

However, the Knicks won a pivotal Game 5, taking a 3-2 series lead in the process.

In Game 6, Earl Monroe registered 27 points as the Bullets recorded a 113-96 win to force a Game 7.

Eventually, the Bullets clinched the thrilling Game 7 by two points, 93-91, to advance to their first of four finals appearances in the 1970s.

Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks - 1993 East Finals

The two-time defending champion Bulls were looking to become the first team since the Boston Celtics in 1966 to three-peat. Standing in their way were the East's top-seeded Knicks, led by head coach Pat Riley and Hall of Fame centre Patrick Ewing.

The Knicks won both Games 1 and 2 on their home floor to take a 2-0 series lead. But after that, they failed to win a single game.

In Game 3, behind a near triple-double from Michael Jordan of 22 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, the Bulls beat the Knicks by 20. In Game 4, Jordan dropped 54 points on a super efficient 18-of-30 shooting, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range to tie-up the series.

In a competitive Game 5, Jordan and Scottie Pippen combined for 57 points in a 97-94 win.

A couple of days later, in the series-clinching Game 6, the Bulls overcame a huge double-double of 26 points and 13 rebounds from Ewing to make it to the 1993 NBA Finals, their third straight.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Detroit Pistons - 2007 East Finals

The series the King arrived!

The first two games were hard-fought three-point wins with identical scores of 79-76 for the Pistons, who were appearing in their fifth consecutive Conference Finals.

After averaging 14.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists on 35.3% shooting in the first two games, LeBron James took the remainder of the series into in his own hands. Over the next four games, all of which the Cavaliers won, James averaged 31.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists on 48.8% shooting.

Not to mention his Game 5 masterclass, where he erupted for 48 points, including the team's last 25 points to seal the double-overtime win.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs - 2012 West Finals

The Thunder were a young yet experienced playoff squad led by a trio of budding superstars in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

Hoping to make up for the Conference Finals exit in 2011, they didn't start very well against the veteran Spurs in 2012 by dropping the first two games.

The Thunder bounced back from those consecutive road losses with a dominating 20-point Game 3 victory - the only game in the series to be determined by double digits - and never looked back.

They won the next three games, including a Game 5 in San Antonio to seal Oklahoma City's first-ever Finals appearance.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics - 2018 East Finals

A young and on-the-rise Celtics roster won the first two games of 2018 Conference Finals by a combined margin of 38 points and still came up short of making the NBA Finals.

Credit LeBron James, who put in one Herculean effort after another to single-handedly carry the Cavaliers past the Celtics.

Playing in front of a raucous home crowd in Game 3, it didn't take much for the Cavaliers to register a huge 30-point win. But for their next three wins, they needed BIG games from James, and he didn't disappoint:

  • Game 4 : 44 points (17-28 FG), five rebounds and three assists
  • Game 6 : 46 points (17-33 FG), 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals
  • Game 7 : 35 points (12-24 FG), 15 rebounds, nine assists and two blocks

Can the Raptors join this list of teams? We'll soon find out.

Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks - 2019 East Finals

After dropping Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals by 22 points to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Toronto Raptors were fighting tooth-and-nail to avoid an 0-3 hole. It took two overtime sessions but they won Game 3 and then followed that up with a blowout 18-point Game 4 win.

Then, it was like the Raptors had figured out the Bucks. In Games 5 and 6, Milwaukee raced to an early lead but each time, Toronto battled back in the second half to win. With the Game 6 comeback, which included a 26-3 run, the franchise clinched their first-ever Conference title and NBA Finals berth.

They would go on to win the NBA Finals, the second team from these six to do so, by defeating the Golden State Warriors 4-2.

Can the Celtics join this list of teams? We'll soon find out.

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