Yesterday, it was the Cleveland Cavs over the Wizards in the east now up 3-1, the Suns avoided the sweep moving to a 3-1 deficit by blowing out the Spurs, New Orleans pushed forward to a 3-1 lead winning against Dallas, and with the win against the Sixers Detroit ties the series 2-2 and avoided going down 3-1 in a series they should not be struggling with. In the other series, Orlando is up 3-1 against Toronto, the Lakers might be ready to sweep the Nuggets up 3-0, Boston is up 2-1 against Atlanta, and the Jazz hold a 3-1 advantage over Houston.
If you go by historical statistics, the Lakers and the Spurs are locks to move on. No team has ever come back from 3-0 to win an NBA series (0 for 81 attempts all time), and only 3 teams have come back to tie. Only 8 teams in history have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series with the Phoenix Suns being the last team to do so in 2006 against the Lakers.
What does this mean? Nothing really. Records are meant to be broken. It would be great to see some lowly team like the Hawks beat the Celtics, or the Nuggets to become the first team in NBA history to come back from an 0-3 deficit (They would become only the fourth 8 seed in NBA history to beat a 1 seed, if they can get past that never-before-done comeback from 0-3). These series are not over until that 4th game is won. Until then, history is only history. Papers and stats do not win games. No team is safe or eliminated until the series is over. But the reason the 0-3 comeback has never happened, the 1-3 comeback rarely happens, and the 8 seed almost never beats the 1 seed is because the teams going up 3-0 and 3-1 are obviously the better team. The 1 seed is usually light years ahead of the 8. That’s what is so surprising about the east this year. The 1 seeded Celts and 2 seeded Pistons are so much stronger than the rest of the east that they should be cruising. Instead, the Celts have dropped one of the first 3 games of the series to a mediocre at best Atlanta team and the Pistons with the second best record in the NBA were down 1-2 against a team with a losing record. They even had to struggle just to tie the series at two a piece.
In the long run, I fully expect the Lakers, Hornets, Jazz, and Spurs to advance in the West. The Spurs might struggle a little to put away a tough Suns team. I also expect the Cavs, Pistons, Celtics, and Magic to advance in the east setting up some really cool matchups.