A look at the history of NBA teams which overcame a 3-1 series deficit

With a comeback win in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals Saturday, the Golden State Warriors have guaranteed at least one more game in their season.

While the team once trailed 3-1 in the series, the tide has turned and the Warriors will have a chance Monday to become the 10th in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit. The Warriors would also be the third team to accomplish the feat in a conference finals series.

With the final game of a very entertaining series looming, I decided to look back on the nine teams who have accomplished what the Warriors will look to do and see how they did during the rest of the playoffs.

1968 Boston Celtics

The Celtics became the first team to overcome the 3-1 deficit when they triumphed over the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals. The 76ers were the defending champions in 1968, but the legendary trio of Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Sam Jones led the way to a historic comeback.

The Celtics would then beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals to capture their tenth championship in 12 seasons.

1970 Los Angeles Lakers

The Phoenix Suns finished the regular season below .500 in 1970, but still found themselves with a 3-1 series lead against the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals.

The Lakers would overcome and ride the momentum to a sweep of the Hawks to capture a third straight conference title. The Lakers would lose in the NBA Finals, falling to the New York Knicks in seven games.

1979 Washington Wizards

The Wizards, led by Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes, were the next team to advance after facing a 3-1 series deficit when they played the San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals.

The Wizards would lose to the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA Finals in five games and have not returned to the NBA Finals since.

1981 Boston Celtics

Two years later, the Celtics became the first of two NBA franchises to overcome a 3-1 deficit on two separate occasions.

Once again it would be the 76ers who would lose the series and once again it would come in the conference finals.

The Celtics would go on to beat the Houston Rockets in six games to capture the 14th championship in franchise history.

1995 Houston Rockets

The sixth-seeded Rockets finished 12 games behind the Suns in the 1995 season, but it didn’t stop them from overcoming a 3-1 deficit against them in the playoffs.

The Rockets would go on to sweep the Orlando Magic in the finals to win their second straight championship. The Rockets remain the lowest-seeded team in NBA history to win the championship.

1997 Miami Heat

The Heat came back to beat the Knicks in the conference semifinals. However, the Heat would then lose in the Eastern Conference finals to the Chicago Bulls in five games.

2003 Detroit Pistons

The top-seeded Pistons found themselves trailing 3-1 to the Magic in the first round, but were able to come back and advance.

The Pistons would make it to the conference finals before they were swept by the New Jersey Nets.

2006 Phoenix Suns

The Suns would also find themselves facing a 3-1 deficit in the first round before beating the Lakers to advance.

The Suns would beat the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games during the following round before falling to the Mavericks in the conference finals.

2015 Houston Rockets

The most recent team to join the 3-1 comeback club was the Rockets during last season’s playoffs. The Rockets would triumph over the Clippers in seven games before dropping to the Warriors in five during the conference finals.

The Warriors will have their chance to join this list when Game 7 of the Western Conference finals tips-off Monday at 9 p.m. The game will be broadcast on TNT.

Marvel’s cinematic dynasty continues with “Civil War”

The latest edition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Captain America: Civil War” continued the box office dominance of the Marvel franchise by passing an important milestone Sunday.

The film officially passed $1 billion worldwide, becoming the 25th film all-time to do so and the fourth by Marvel. As of this writing, “Civil War” is 19th on the all-time gross list and joins three other Marvel in the top-20 for highest grossing Marvel films of all-time.

The film also did not take it’s time breaking into the $1 billion club as it is the ninth-quickest film ever to reach the mark. This is nothing new for Marvel as “The Avengers”, “Iron Man 3” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” are also in the top-ten for this list.

The success of “Civil War” should not be surprising to anyone who has been following releases by Marvel Studios since the critical and commercial success of “Iron Man” in 2008.

In the eight years since, the studio has released a total of 13 films and these films have grossed over $10 billion combined.

2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” has been the only film in the franchise to gross less than $350 million worldwide to this point.

The Marvel films have also been critical successes on top of their commercial success. The 13 Marvel Studios films have achieved an average critical approval of 81 percent on the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes.

The success of the Marvel franchise has even extended into the realm of television. “Daredevil”, “Jessica Jones”, “Agents of S.H.I.E.LD” and the recently-cancelled “Agent Carter” have been met with critical success and a loyal fanbase.

The next stop for the MCU will be the release of “Doctor Strange” on November 4. The character Doctor Strange is one who is not as well-known to mainstream audiences, but films like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man” have proved Marvel can still have success with lesser-known characters.

With Warner Bros. putting their plans for a cinematic universe based off the DC Comics properties into action, Marvel could potentially face real competition for audiences in the near future.

However, Marvel is still the leader in movies for now. “Civil War” made more in its first three weeks than “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” made in its entire theatrical run.
Backed by the funding of Disney, Marvel Studios has built a cinematic dynasty which has dominated the box office for the past eight years and has yet to show any signs of slowing down.

Thunder continue impressive postseason run with decisive win against Warriors

A lot can change over the course of eight games in the NBA playoffs and no team has exemplified that quite as well as the Oklahoma City Thunder this year.

After an embarrassing 32-point loss in game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Spurs on April 30, many wrote the Thunder off as speculation began about forward Kevin Durant’s destination in free agency.

24 days later, the Thunder are two wins away from knocking off a record-breaking Golden State Warriors team with two homes games left in the series.

Since the loss to the Spurs on April 30, the Thunder have gone 7-2 including two victories at San Antonio and one victory at Golden State.

The dynamic duo of Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook has been the driving force for the team as they have combined for 50 points per game over the eight-game span. The team has also received significant contributions from big men Steven Adams and Enes Kanter during the run.

Perhaps the most impressive game for this Thunder team came Sunday in an important Game 3 against the Warriors.

With the series tied at one apiece and the game tied at 40 apiece, the Thunder went on a 32-7 run to close the half. The Warriors never recovered as the Thunder breezed to a 25-point win to take control of the series.

This postseason is an important one for the Thunder with the aforementioned Durant hitting the free agent market in the offseason. It is unknown if the Thunder will be able to retain him making this the Thunder’s last and best chance at an NBA championship with their current roster.

If the team makes the NBA Finals, it will be the second appearance for the franchise since moving to Oklahoma City. The Thunder lost to the Miami Heat in those finals in five games.

The Thunder could also potentially be the first team since the 2010 Boston Celtics to win a series against the top-two seeds in their conference in the same postseason. The Thunder would also be the first three-seed to make the NBA Finals since the Dallas Mavericks upset LeBron James and the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.

Game 4 at Oklahoma City will be an important game for both teams as only nine teams have ever overcome a 3-1 series deficit in NBA history. If the Thunder win, it will push the Warriors farther than they have been pushed all season.

Game 4 will be held Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST and aired on TNT.

76ers face tough decision with top pick in NBA draft

After three straight seasons losing over 60 games including coming within one loss of tying the record for most losses in a season, the Philadelphia 76ers finally struck gold with a lottery victory Tuesday.

The 76ers had a 25 percent chance of picking up the top pick and things finally came up their way after four straight losing seasons.

The 2016 NBA draft class has two clear top prospects for Philadelphia fans to salivate over as LSU freshman Ben Simmons and Duke freshman Brandon Ingram both have come out for this draft and are the clear favorites to be drafted in the top-two.

The 6 foot 10 inch Simmons was the top recruit of the nation coming out of high school and while LSU failed to make the NCAA Tournament, Simmons impressed with his raw athleticism as he averaged a double-double in his only college season.

Meanwhile, the 6 foot 9 inch Ingram was classified as the third best recruit out of high school and shot an impressive 41 percent from behind the arc for a Duke team which made the Sweet 16 before falling to Oregon.

The comparison is an interesting one because while Simmons is the overall better package, Ingram has shown better shooting ability from the outside which as the Cavaliers and Warriors have shown this season is a very important trait to have.

The 76ers last two lottery picks have also been big men in Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid which may make them more likely to go for Ingram this season who despite his height actually played guard for Duke.

Regardless of who they go for, fans will be hoping they can improve on the 50 percent success rate of their last two picks. Okafor, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft, played well in his rookie year averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds per game and should be an important piece of the 76ers rebuilding plan.

On the other hand, Embiid had plenty of potential when he was drafted third overall in the 2014 draft, but he has yet to play a single game in the NBA due to a series of foot injuries requiring multiple surgeries. Even if Embiid someday makes it onto an NBA court, the 76ers front office will definitely want to avoid a repeat of this situation.

The team will not be blamed for selecting Simmons or Ingram because they are both viewed as the undisputed top two and can’t-miss prospects. The 76ers will have until the day of the draft on June 23 to make their decision.

Historically speaking, if they go with Simmons, he will be the first player taken No. 1 overall whose team did not make the NCAA Tournament that same year since Michael Olowokandi in 1998.

Bold Predictions for the NBA Conference Finals

The 2016 NBA playoffs have begun to reach their peak as four teams remain in the hunt for the title.

The Warriors are looking to win a second consecutive title while cementing a legacy as one of the best teams in NBA history. The Thunder hope to win their first NBA championship with their star player potentially out the door in the offseason.

The Cavaliers are also looking for their first NBA championship and LeBron James is looking to make the NBA Finals for the sixth consecutive season. Then, you have the Toronto Raptors who have never even been to the conference finals before this season and are the clear underdog in this whole situation.

There are lots of things which could happen in the conference final, but here are my five predictions on what will happen.

The Thunder will push the Warriors farther than any team thus far in the postseason

The Warriors played the Thunder three times in the regular season and won all three games. However, the games were very close including an instant-classic overtime game in which the Warriors needed a half-court make by Stephen Curry at the buzzer to win.

I expect we will see some similarly close games in this series as Curry and Klay Thompson will be matched by the equally capable duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

The Cavaliers will not sweep the Raptors

It’s been a pretty easy postseason for the Cavaliers so far. They swept the Detroit Pistons in the first round and followed it up with a sweep against the Hawks in the conference semifinals.

While the Raptors are definitely underdogs in this series, they have shown with tough Game 7 wins in the first two rounds that they can compete and I think they will take some games.

Also, the Raptors won two of their three games in the regular season against the Cavaliers and Kyle Lowry could have a big series matched up against Kyrie Irving.

Russell Westbrook and Draymond Green will both get at least one triple-double in this round

In the regular season, Westbrook led the NBA with 18 triple-doubles and Green was second behind him with 13.

I think these two dynamic playmakers will both step up in this round and deliver at least one triple-double performance apiece.

It might even happen in the same game. Who knows?

The Cavaliers three-point barrage will continue

The Cavaliers have been on a three-point tear over the last couple weeks and seem more adept at it than even the Warriors.

The team has plenty of players who shoot the ball well from long-range and it has paid dividends in the postseason. I think their hot streak will continue and they will try to beat the Raptors with attacks from beyond the arc.

The NBA Finals will be a rematch of last year’s finals

The Thunder are an interesting matchup for the Warriors, but I think the trio of Curry, Thompson and Green will outlast the duo of Westbrook and Durant to get the Warriors into the finals in six games.

While the Raptors have a great Cinderella story in the making, the Cavaliers are the best team in the conference and will overwhelm the Toronto team. This especially holds true with center Jonas Valanciunas missing in action for Toronto. Cavaliers will win in five games.

This sets up a rematch of last year’s finals where the Warriors won the championship in six games. I will save my prediction of how things will go this year for when the NBA Finals roll around.

Steph Curry continues incredible season with a historic playoff performance

If there was any doubt about Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry being worthy of a second straight MVP award, those doubts were put to rest Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

In front of a hostile Portland crowd, Curry made his return to the court after missing four games with a sprained right knee and made history yet again. The point guard scored an NBA-record 17 points in the overtime period alone to lead his team to a crucial victory in Game 4 of the series.

Curry actually came off the bench to start the game as he continued to nurse his still-recovering knee. However, Warriors guard Shaun Livingston was ejected in the second quarter for arguing with the officials, forcing Curry to play more time than expected.

Given Curry was listed as doubtful to even play in the game as late as Monday morning, it was questionable how much of an impact Curry would make, but he did well enough to give his team the 3-1 series lead as the teams head back to Oakland for Game 5.

The 40-point, nine-rebound, eight-assist performance by Curry was only the latest in the laundry list of historic accomplishments by him this season.

Curry shattered his own record for 3-pointers in a season by hitting 402 this season. Incredibly, Curry broke the record by 116 3-pointers, becoming the first player to hit 300 in a season and then the first to hit 400 in a season.

For historical perspective, Curry’s 688 three-point makes over the past two seasons are more than Larry Bird, 649, or Michael Jordan, 581, had in their entire careers.

Curry also had more games with double-digit 3-pointers made this season, 4, than any other player has had had in their career.

He didn’t just get the job done behind the arc either. Curry also led the NBA in layup shooting percentage as he went 68.7 percent from the field on such shots during the regular season.

Curry’s scoring pace was also historic as he became the first player in NBA history to average more than 30 points per game while also playing less than 35 minutes per game.

Curry also joined an elite club by shooting over 50 percent from the field, over 45 percent from three-point range and over 90 percent from the foul line. The only two other players to accomplish this in a season were Steve Nash in the 2007-2008 season and Curry’s current coach Steve Kerr during the 1995-1996 season.

On top of everything else he did, Curry was also a major factor for the Warriors as they set the NBA-record for wins in a season with 73.

All of this adds up to one of the most impressive seasons in recent memory as Curry has established himself as a true and unquestioned star in the sport.

Curry was rewarded for his accomplishments this season by becoming the first player in NBA history to win the MVP award unanimously. Curry is the 11th player to win consecutive MVP awards and the third point guard to do it after Nash and Magic Johnson.

The Warriors still have a ways to go in the playoffs; needing one more win against Portland with a showdown against the Thunder or Spurs looming in the Western Conference finals.

For now, all eyes are on Curry as he continues to set new standards for performance in the NBA.