Celtics can enter rare NBA playoff air with a Game 5 win over Heat originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Can the Boston Celtics follow in the footsteps of the 2004 Red Sox? To be determined. For now, they should attempt to match the 2022 Toronto Raptors.
The Celtics fell into a 3-0 series deficit against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, a literal death sentence in the NBA: No NBA team has won a seven-game series after trailing 3-0 in 150 instances.
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Boston rallied to win Game 4 in Miami on Tuesday night, however, and with Game 5 back at TD Garden on Thursday, there's at least a sliver of hope that the C's can force a Game 6 back in South Beach.
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If the Celtics are able to defend home court in Game 5, they'd already be entering rare air: Only 14 of those 150 NBA teams have even forced a Game 6 after trailing 3-0. Here's a breakdown of how best-of-seven series have played out when one team goes up 3-0:
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Simply by winning Game 4 in Miami, the Celtics accomplished what only 58 playoff teams have done before. The C's themselves had been swept four times in six previous instances down 3-0.
The Celtics, of course, are a unique case: They're higher seed in this series and allowed the No. 8 Heat to jump out to a 3-0 lead despite being heavily favored.
Of those 14 teams that made it to Game 6 after falling down 3-0, only one was the higher seed: the 2010 No. 2 seed Orlando Magic, who ironically lost to the No. 4 seed Celtics in the East Finals. The most recent example of a team forcing a Game 6 after trailing 3-0 is the 2022 Raptors, who made it a series against the Philadelphia 76ers in last year's Round 1.
The Celtics are 4-5 at home this postseason and have yet to beat the Heat at TD Garden this series, so they'll have their work cut out for them if they want to live to fight another day. NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Game 5 begins at 7 p.m. ET, with tip-off set for 8:30 p.m. ET.