The Houston Rockets become the ninth team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in a playoff series, hoping to become the fourth that actually wins a championship carried by that momentum. The Los Angeles Clippers join the notorious club of choke-jobs needing just one more win. Doc Rivers knows a thing or two about that.
1968 Boston Celtics
That Celtics team that struggled so hard to beat the Philadelphia 76ers in an epic division finals (those days’ conference finals) beat the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2 in the finals, winning the franchise’s 10th NBA title, their ninth in 10 years.
|Game 1||April 5||Boston Celtics||127||@ Philadelphia 76ers||118|
|Game 2||April 10||Philadelphia 76ers||115||@ Boston Celtics||106|
|Game 3||April 11||Boston Celtics||114||@ Philadelphia 76ers||122|
|Game 4||April 14||Philadelphia 76ers||110||@ Boston Celtics||105|
|Game 5||April 15||Boston Celtics||122||@ Philadelphia 76ers||104|
|Game 6||April 17||Philadelphia 76ers||106||@ Boston Celtics||114|
|Game 7||April 19||Boston Celtics||100||@ Philadelphia 76ers||96|
1970 Los Angeles Lakers
In the division semifinals (there were only three playoff series back then) the Lakers ran into trouble against the Phoenix Suns, starring Gail Goodrich, Connie Hawkins and Paul Silas. But the Lakers rallied, clinching game 7 with a terrific performance from Wilt Chamberlain (30 points). They went on to the finals, losing in seven games to the New York Knicks.
|Game 1||March 25||Phoenix Suns||112||@ Los Angeles Lakers||128|
|Game 2||March 29||Phoenix Suns||114||@ Los Angeles Lakers||101|
|Game 3||April 2||Los Angeles Lakers||98||@ Phoenix Suns||112|
|Game 4||April 4||Los Angeles Lakers||102||@ Phoenix Suns||112|
|Game 5||April 5||Phoenix Suns||121||@ Los Angeles Lakers||138|
|Game 6||April 7||Los Angeles Lakers||104||@ Phoenix Suns||93|
|Game 7||April 9||Phoenix Suns||94||@ Los Angeles Lakers||129|
1979 Washington Bullets
The defending champions needed seven games to get past the Hawks in the conference semifinals, and things were just as difficult in the conference finals, barely moving on to the finals, where they were routed by the Seattle Supersonics in five games.
|Game 1||May 4||San Antonio Spurs||118||@ Washington Bullets||97|
|Game 2||May 6||San Antonio Spurs||95||@ Washington Bullets||115|
|Game 3||May 9||Washington Bullets||114||@ San Antonio Spurs||116|
|Game 4||May 11||Washington Bullets||102||@ San Antonio Spurs||118|
|Game 5||May 13||San Antonio Spurs||103||@ Washington Bullets||107|
|Game 6||May 16||Washington Bullets||108||@ San Antonio Spurs||100|
|Game 7||May 18||San Antonio Spurs||105||@ Washington Bullets||107|
1981 Boston Celtics
One of the truly great playoff series of the 1980’s, the Boston Celtics had to go through the closest thing to hell by barely beating the Philadelphia 76ers in the conference finals before a much easier NBA finals, beating the Rockets in six games, the first of three championships in the Larry Bird era. Five of the games in that series were decided by just one or two points.
|Game 1||April 21||Philadelphia 76ers||105||@ Boston Celtics||104|
|Game 2||April 22||Philadelphia 76ers||99||@ Boston Celtics||118|
|Game 3||April 24||Boston Celtics||100||@ Philadelphia 76ers||110|
|Game 4||April 26||Boston Celtics||105||@ Philadelphia 76ers||107|
|Game 5||April 29||Philadelphia 76ers||109||@ Boston Celtics||111|
|Game 6||May 1||Boston Celtics||100||@ Philadelphia 76ers||98|
|Game 7||May 3||Philadelphia 76ers||90||@ Boston Celtics||91|
1995 Houston Rockets
The ‘never underestimate the heart of a champion’ was said after winning the championship in the finals against the Orlando Magic, but coach T was talking about the conference semifinals, as the Rockets managed to come back from a 3-1 deficit against the Phoenix Suns. They won games 5 and 7 on the road, getting 29 points from Olajuwon and Drexler each. The 46 points from Kevin Johnson weren’t enough in the series decider.
|Game 1||May 9||Houston Rockets||108||@ Phoenix Suns||130|
|Game 2||May 11||Houston Rockets||94||@ Phoenix Suns||118|
|Game 3||May 13||Phoenix Suns||85||@ Houston Rockets||118|
|Game 4||May 14||Phoenix Suns||114||@ Houston Rockets||110|
|Game 5||May 16||Houston Rockets||103||@ Phoenix Suns||97|
|Game 6||May 18||Phoenix Suns||103||@ Houston Rockets||116|
|Game 7||May 20||Houston Rockets||115||@ Phoenix Suns||114|
1997 Miami Heat
In one of the nastiest series in NBA history, the Miami Heat managed to claw their way back from the brink of going to summer vacation and turn the series around, getting 38 points from Tim Hardaway in game 7 of that series, before going on to lose in five games to the Chicago Bulls in the conference finals.
|Game 1||May 7||New York Knickerbockers||88||@ Miami Heat||79|
|Game 2||May 9||New York Knickerbockers||84||@ Miami Heat||88|
|Game 3||May 11||Miami Heat||73||@ New York Knickerbockers||77|
|Game 4||May 12||Miami Heat||76||@ New York Knickerbockers||89|
|Game 5||May 14||New York Knickerbockers||81||@ Miami Heat||96|
|Game 6||May 16||Miami Heat||95||@ New York Knickerbockers||90|
|Game 7||May 18||New York Knickerbockers||90||@ Miami Heat||101|
2003 Detroit Pistons
This was the first postseason with 7 games in the first round. This was also a time when the West was a lot better than the East. The Pistons fell two games behind Tracy McGrady and the Orlando Magic (coached by Doc Rivers). But game 5, in which the Magic were held to just 67 points, seemed to not just turn the tide, but break the Magic completely. The next two games were routes, capped off by 37 points from Chauncey Billups in the finisher. The Pistons went on to lose in the conference finals against the Nets. Swept by them, not just lose.
|Game 1||April 20||Orlando Magic||99||@ Detroit Pistons||94|
|Game 2||April 23||Orlando Magic||77||@ Detroit Pistons||89|
|Game 3||April 25||Detroit Pistons||80||@ Orlando Magic||89|
|Game 4||April 27||Detroit Pistons||92||@ Orlando Magic||100|
|Game 5||April 30||Orlando Magic||67||@ Detroit Pistons||98|
|Game 6||May 2||Detroit Pistons||103||@ Orlando Magic||88|
|Game 7||May 4||Orlando Magic||93||@ Detroit Pistons||108|
2006 Phoenix Suns
Kobe Bryant carried what people like to refer as a bunch of nobodies in the frustrating part of his post-Shaq years. He was incredible that season, including his famous 81-point game against the Raptors in the regular season. He seemed on a mission to prove something to Steve Nash, the league’s MVP. But the Suns were a much better team. And Bryant pretty much quit on his teammates in the final game, not giving anything close to his all in a 31-point loss in game 7.
|Game 1||April 23||Los Angeles Lakers||102||@ Phoenix Suns||107|
|Game 2||April 26||Los Angeles Lakers||99||@ Phoenix Suns||93|
|Game 3||April 28||Phoenix Suns||92||@ Los Angeles Lakers||99|
|Game 4||April 30||Phoenix Suns||98||@ Los Angeles Lakers||99|
|Game 5||May 2||Los Angeles Lakers||97||@ Phoenix Suns||114|
|Game 6||May 4||Phoenix Suns||126||@ Los Angeles Lakers||118|
|Game 7||May 6||Los Angeles Lakers||90||@ Phoenix Suns||121|
2015 Houston Rockets
After the Rockets lost games 3 and 4 by a combined 58 points, it seemed like it was lights out for them. But then came a bounce back game at home with the Clippers seemingly resting up before closing the series. And then the huge comeback (19 points down) of game 6 happened. Game 7 was theirs right from the start, taking them to the conference finals for the first time since 1997.
|Game 1||May 4||Los Angeles Clippers||117||@ Houston Rockets||101|
|Game 2||May 6||Los Angeles Clippers||109||@ Houston Rockets||115|
|Game 3||May 8||Houston Rockets||99||@ Los Angeles Clippers||124|
|Game 4||May 10||Houston Rockets||95||@ Los Angeles Clippers||128|
|Game 5||May 12||Los Angeles Clippers||103||@ Houston Rockets||124|
|Game 6||May 14||Houston Rockets||107||@ Los Angeles Clippers||119|
|Game 7||May 17||Los Angeles Clippers||100||@ Houston Rockets||113|