Who Does History Favor In This Year’s NBA Finals Going Back To Miami?

The Dallas Mavericks won a fantastic Game 5 of the NBA Finals last night to take a 3-2 lead back to Miami for Games 6 & 7.  While the Miami Heat has the homecourt, and the Lakers beat the Celtics in exactly the same spot last season, history will tell you that going back home down 3-2 in the 2-3-2 format isn’t exactly an advantage.  Since 1985, when that format was introduced, the team coming home for Games 6 & 7 has trailed 3-2 in the series precisely 7 times.  Here’s what happened in each of those series…

1985: Celtics vs Lakers

Los Angeles took a 3-2 lead back to Boston for Games 6 & 7 in the first year of the 2-3-2.  The teams had split Games 1 & 2 in Boston, and Los Angeles won 2 of 3 at home in the Forum.

Game 6: Lakers 111, Celtics 100

Los Angeles won the series 4-2.

1988: Lakers vs Pistons

Detroit took a 3-2 lead back to Los Angeles for Games 6 & 7.  The teams split Games 1 & 2 in Los Angeles, with Detroit winning Games 4 & 5 at home.

Game 6: Lakers 103, Pistons 102
Game 7: Lakers 108, Pistons 105

Los Angeles won the series 4-3.

1993: Suns vs Bulls

Chicago took a 3-2 lead to Phoenix for Games 6 & 7, looking for their third title in a row.  The road team had won 4 of the previous 5 games with Chicago winning Games 1 & 2 in Phoenix.

Game 6: Bulls 99, Suns 98.

Chicago won the series 4-2.

1994: Rockets vs Knicks

New York went back to Houston leading 3-2.  The Knicks won Games 4 & 5 at home and had won 1 of 2 in Houston previously.

Game 6: Rockets 86, Knicks 84
Game 7: Rockets 90, Knicks 84

Houston won the series 4-3.

1998: Bulls vs Jazz

Chicago traveled to Utah up 3-2.  We all know what happened in Game 6, but it was forced by a Utah win in Game 5 after the Bulls had a 3-1 series lead.

Game 6: Bulls 87, Jazz 86

Chicago won the series 4-2.

2006: Heat vs Mavericks

Ironically, Dallas and Miami have done this dance before, except it was the Heat taking a 3-2 series lead to Dallas.  Unlike any of the previous series in this list, the home team was unbeaten prior to Game 6.

Game 6: Heat 95, Mavericks 92

Miami won the series 4-2.

2010: Celtics vs Lakers

We also went down this road last year where Boston had a 3-2 lead going to Staples for Games 6 & 7, which was the reverse of the 1985 Finals.  However, this time the Lakers won again.  The same pattern has been followed in 2010 as in 2011 with the home teams winning Games 1, 4, & 5. 

Game 6: Lakers 89, Celtics 67
Game 7: Lakers 83, Celtics 79 

Los Angeles won the series 4-3.

Here’s a few observations from the list and who history indeed favors in this year’s Finals…

The road team with the 3-2 lead has won four times, the home team trailing with Games 6 & 7 in their backyard has won only three times.  So, here it looks that history does indeed slightly favor the Dallas Mavericks going back to Miami.  Dallas also has the edge of having won in Miami once already in this series.  However, even more interesting is the fact that the team winning Game 6 is a perfect 7-0 with the road team having a 3-2 lead for Game 6.  Never has the road team lost Game 6 and then come back to win Game 7.  Perhaps that’s why you hear so many Dallas players treating Sunday night’s Game 6 as a proverbial Game 7.  Jason Terry had this to say

“Sounds repetitive, but yes. Game 6 is Game 7 for us. We want to play like there’s no tomorrow. If we do that, I have no doubt in my mind we can be successful.”

History also tells us that Sunday’s Game 6 should be incredibly exciting.  Five of the seven games have been decided by three points or less, which would keep in step with what has been one of the most thrilling Finals in recent memory.  Make sure you tune in to Game 6 on Sunday because it should be another classic that could decide this year’s Finals. 

(photos: daylife.com)