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The Miami Heat Might Blow a 3-0 Series Lead


When a team takes a three-games-to-none lead in a best-of-seven series, it’s time to start out waiting for the subsequent round or to a championship parade.

More often than not.

Within the history of sports, a couple of teams with 3-0 series leads have managed to lose three straight games before recovering. A few of them lost yet another game — and the series — as well.

That’s the history facing the Miami Heat, who won the primary three games of their N.B.A. Eastern Conference finals series against the Boston Celtics, then lost the subsequent three, including Game 6 at home on Saturday night.

Game 7 is Monday night in Boston, and the Heat are 48 minutes away from historical ignominy. No N.B.A. team has ever blown a 3-0 series lead dating to 1947, when the N.B.A. was called the Basketball Association of America and had teams just like the Cleveland Rebels and the St. Louis Bombers. This yr, within the Western Conference finals, the Denver Nuggets took a 3-0 series lead against the Los Angeles Lakers, then finished them off in a four-game sweep.

A collapse after taking a 3-0 series lead has happened in other leagues, though. Let’s relive a few of those dark moments (for one team in those series anyway).

Essentially the most famous 3-0 comeback in sports definitely got here in 2004 when the Boston Red Sox stunned their hated rivals, the Yankees, and made Major League Baseball history.

The victory within the American League Championship Series, snatched from the jaws of defeat, got here in defiance of the fabled Curse of the Bambino that had supposedly consigned the Red Sox to perpetual defeat after they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920.

“This is clearly crushing for us,” said Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, a sentiment the Heat may soon be feeling.

The one other time a serious league team battled back from 3-0 down, it didn’t finish the job. The Tampa Bay Rays raced to a 3-0 series lead within the 2020 A.L.C.S., played at a neutral site in San Diego due to coronavirus pandemic. The Houston Astros claimed the subsequent three games, but Tampa Bay pulled out a 4-2 victory within the decider before losing the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I don’t know if I went to bed,” Rays Manager Kevin Money said concerning the aftermath of Game 6. “It was tough, there’s little doubt. Plenty of anxiety.”

No team has blown a 3-0 series lead within the World Series, but within the Japan Series, the Nishitetsu Lions got here back from 3-0 right down to win in 1958 against the Yomiuri Giants and the Giants managed the identical feat against the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1989.

The N.H.L. has treated fans to essentially the most four-game collapses, and one in all those got here within the Stanley Cup final.

In 1942, the Detroit Red Wings won the primary three games, however the Toronto Maple Leafs got here roaring back with 4 straight. The Cup had switched to a best-of-seven format in 1939 and this was the primary series to go the gap.

“By Jiminy” was the postgame response of the Leafs great Syl Apps.

4-game comebacks were also achieved in earlier rounds by the Islanders over the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1975, the Philadelphia Flyers over the Boston Bruins in 2010 and the Los Angeles Kings over the San Jose Sharks in 2014.

Although no N.B.A. team has — yet — lost a series it led by 3-0, a couple of, like this yr’s Heat, have lost three straight to get to 3-3.

It happened once within the finals, in 1951. The Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings via Cincinnati, Kansas City, Mo., and Omaha) took a 3-0 lead over the Knicks, who rallied with three wins. The ultimate game got here right down to the last seconds before Bob Davies of the Royals sealed it with two free throws.

It’s the one and only championship for the Royals/Kings franchise, in any city. The Knicks would need to wait until 1970 for his or her first.

A 3-game collapse followed by Game 7 redemption was also achieved in earlier rounds by the 1994 Utah Jazz against the Denver Nuggets and the 2003 Dallas Mavericks against the Portland Trail Blazers.

So the complete collapse has never happened within the N.B.A. But in all of basketball?
How could you forget the classic Beermen-Aces series?

Within the 2016 Philippine Cup final, the Alaska Aces looked set to say the title after three straight wins. (Their name got here from their sponsor, Alaska Milk, not their home base.)

However it was a mistake to count out the reigning champion San Miguel Beermen, who won 4 straight to do what no N.B.A. team has ever done.

The Celtics will probably be hoping to match the Beermen on Monday night.

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