An OTB investigation (fine, all I did was browse basketball-reference.com) revealed an obvious theme for previous super teams who fell behind 2-1 or 3-2 in a seven game series.
Lopsided victories and too much time between games turn NBA fans and reporters into over infatuated jump-to-conclusioners.* When the Thunder won game one, everyone thought the series was over.
When the Warriors won game two, everyone assumed the Warriors had regained the edge. Now that the Thunder blew out the Warriors on Sunday, the OKC bandwagon is full of overzealous I-told-you-soers.**
For every momentum swinging victory, there are 45 think pieces on why the latest winner will take the series. It’s how it has always worked.
In reality, the better team almost always wins in the NBA. It just takes a wake up call for the best player on the best team to get going.
Take a look at all the super teams since 2000 who bounced back from a 2-1 or 3-2 series deficit.***
The 2002 Lakers
- Fell behind 2-1 to the Sacramento Kings, a memorable ensemble of passers and shooters who finally put together a team equipped to beat the Shakobe Lakers.
- The Lakers turned it into one of the ugliest and slow moving series ever, forcing the issue with Shaquille O’Neal, who shot 17 free throws in game six.
- Kept winning games when they absolutely had to, beat the Kings in seven, and swept the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals.
The 2012 Heat
- In year two of the Wade-James-Heat experiment, Miami faced three different series deficits, first falling 2-1 down to the Pacers, then 3-2 to the Celtics, then 1-0 to the Thunder in the NBA Finals. In game five against the Celtics, Paul Pierce hit one of the most cold-blooded daggers in recent memory. Is that relevant? Not at all. But here it is:
- On all three occasions, the Heat came back and swept every remaining game in each series, mostly because LeBron James, who was at the height of his dominance, took over every important game.
The 2015 Cavaliers
- More of the same from LeBron James, whose Cavs fell behind the Bulls in the ECSF, 2-1, on an improbable bank shot three by Derrick Rose.
- In game four, LeBron James hit his own buzzer beater. The Cavs did not lose again all series, or until the NBA Finals, when they all got injured and lost to the Golden State Warriors……
The 2015 Warriors
- THE GRIZZLIES. FIRST TEAM ALL-DEFENSE.
- Remember when the Grizzlies beat the Warriors twice in a row and everyone thought they were in great position to upset GS?
- Well, it didn’t happen, because Steph Curry hit the most demoralizing half court shot ever, and the Warriors won the next three games, and the title. Since that game three loss in Memphis, the Warriors have lost only 16 games……
Which brings me back to my original point….
Shut up Warriors fans, your team is fine.
Image via USA Today
*Jump-to-conclusioners = people who jump to conclusions
**I-told-you-soers = people who say I told you so
***Criteria for a super team = 1. At least one transcendent player on the team. 2. That team was one of, if not the biggest, stories of that season (Shakobe’s Lakers, LeBron’s Heat/Cavs, Curry’s Warriors).