‘We’re gonna fight back in this thing and even it up 2-2,’ said Jimmy Butler after his historic Game 3 performance that has the Heat down 2-1 in the Finals. If Miami is able to tie the series at two apiece, the talk about them completing a comeback after being down 2-0 will only intensify.
The Heat fans will be happy to know that the NBA has already witnessed such comebacks and that precedents for them have already been set. Four times did a team win a championship after trailing 2-0 in the series, as the Heat will look to become the fifth team to do so.
’69 Celtics vs. Lakers
The ’69 Boston Celtics were the first team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the Finals. They beat the Lakers for the second straight year, securing their 11th title in 13 seasons. This is also the only time in NBA history that the Finals MVP was given to a player on the losing team, as Jerry West was the one who received the award.
The Logo averaged 37.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 7.4 assists in 43.9 minutes of action. He put up a monster triple-double of 43/13/12 in a win-or-go-home game, but the Lakers still came up short, despite having both 2-0 and 3-2 leads in the series.
The Celtics sealed the title with a 108-106 Game 7 victory, closing out one of the greatest runs in the league history. Bill Rusell – the epitome of the C’s dynasty – announced his retirement, capping off one of the greatest NBA tenures ever. And he did it the best way possible – beating his arch-nemesis in what was one of the all-time great Finals comebacks; the first such in the NBA.
’77 Trail Blazers vs. 76ers
The ’77 NBA Finals was one for the ages for the city of Portland. For the first and only time in the franchise’s history, the Trail Blazers became NBA champions after beating the 76ers in an epic six-game series, despite being down 2-0.
After getting tortured by the duo of Julius Erving and Doug Collins in the first two games of the series, Portland bounced back, winning Games 3 and 4 by a combined margin of 54 points. They fed off the momentum of their back-to-back victories, turning the series upside down. The Blazers went on to win two more games, as they secured an NBA championship in what was a historical fashion.
Bill Walton was the Finals MVP, as he put up a monster double-double of 18.5 points and 19 rebounds per contest, leading the Blazers to a title just seven years after becoming an NBA franchise. And to this day, it remains their only one.
’06 Heat vs. Mavericks
Back in ’06, the NBA has seen its third installment of 2-0 Finals comebacks, and this one was pulled off by the Miami Heat, in what became the franchise’s first-ever championship run.
Through the first two games, the 60-win Dallas Mavericks were running away with the series, winning each game by a combined margin of 24 points. As the series shifted to Miami, so did the balance of power. The Heat went on to win four straight games, in what ended up being Dwyane Wade’s one-man show. Over the final four games, Flash averaged 39.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 steals while shooting 50.5% from the field, winning his first and only Finals MVP trophy.
And while Wade did put up a historic four-game stretch, the story of the series was free throws and the discrepancy between how many times two teams went to the line. D-Wade was at the center of controversy, as Miami’s superstar averaged 18.3 FTA over the last four games.
For some, this diminishes the Heat’s iconic comeback fueled by No.3. However, it doesn’t change the fact that Dallas was up 2-0 and ended up losing the series, making Miami the third team in NBA history to pull off such a comeback.
’16 Cavaliers vs. Warriors
The last time we’ve witnessed a team coming back from 2-0 down in the Finals was in ’16. It’s also the year of the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead, as LeBron and the Cavs completed a historic turnaround for the organization’s first-ever NBA title.
James was the series MVP, as he became the first player to lead both teams in all five statistical categories. His legendary performance was capped off with an iconic chase-down block on Andre Iguodala, after which Kyrie Irving hit arguably the greatest shot in NBA history to secure a title for Cleveland.
Four years later, LeBron’s role is reversed. He isn’t the one chasing after a historic comeback. Instead, he’s trying to close out the series and make sure that Jimmy Bulter’s Miami Heat don’t end up on this list. And for that not to happen, the Lakers have to make sure to come out on top in Tuesday’s Game 4. With how this series is shaping up, one thing’s for sure – it’s a must-win for both organizations.