• You surely know that no NBA team has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series, but even though Boston is now up “just” 3-1, history says the C’s remain a cinch to clinch. Here’s John Hollinger at ESPN.com:
Cleveland and Boston are up 3-1 with home-court advantage, a situation in which teams are 129-2 historically for a 98.5 percent success rate.
As Homer Simpson once said: I like those odds! *
*Actually, Homer said this at least twice, but this is the funnier one.
• Well I’ll be: Noted Boston pessimist/fatalist/curse-monger Dan Shaughnessy predicts the C’s will not only beat Miami but get through the Cavs in the conference semis. Heres Shaughnessy at CNNSI:
But the old Celtics match up well with the All-Star Cavaliers. The Celts don’t fear the Cavs. And deep down, the Cavaliers know the Celtics can beat them.
As much as it hurts to say this, the mercurial ‘Sheed might be the difference against the Cavs. He’s certainly rested. Wallace started the season out of shape and was content to launch threes throughout the regular season. He was the Secretary of Energy Conservation. He’s been claiming he’s a big-game playoff guy. We haven’t seen much of ‘Sheed during the Miami series, but the Heat have been so bad, it’s hard to notice any Celtics’ shortcomings. Maybe ‘Sheed will finally shine at the Q.
If you’re pinning your upset hopes on Sheed…
• Finally, the stat geniuses at Basketball-Reference rank the best elimination game performances in the NBA since 1991 using BR’s Win Shares statistic. And guess which elimination performance ranks as the single best once since 1991?
That would be Paul Pierce’s masterpiece in Game 5 of Boston’s first-round series against the 76ers in 2002—the super-exciting season in which a pretty mediocre Boston team came within two wins of the NBA Finals.
Pierce’s line in that game:
46 points, 16-of-25 shooting, 8-of-10 from three-point range, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block and a grand total of ZERO turnovers.
You can’t play better, and you can see why this game tops the list, even above Pierce’s Game 7 duel with LeBron James in ’08. (That game also makes the list, as does the 20-11-6 Pierce put up in Game 6 against the Pacers in 2005).
Wade’s performance on Sunday makes the list. Charles Barkley appears four times, and Dirk Nowitzki leads everyone with eight appearances. Michael Jordan appears just once (1992, Game 7 against the Knicks), mostly because his teams never faced elimination.
And guess what? Antoine Walker makes an appearance! For Boston! And guess what else?
He makes it for that same 2002 Game 5 against Philly for which Pierce tops the list!
26-9 boards-6 dimes on 11-of-22 shooting (4-of-9 from deep). ‘Toine also coughed the ball up just once, which was very un-‘Toine like.
There are a few other instances in which two teammates appear on the list for the same game, including:: Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw for the Suns in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Lakers in 2006; Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton for the Pistons in Game 6 in the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals against Miami; Josh Howard and Jason Terry for the Mavs in Game 7 of their 2005 first-rounder against Houston.
In any case, 2002 was a fun year for Boston fans. Let’s hope 2010 is, too.