Warriors facing long odds down 3-1, but it has been done | Inquirer Sports
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Warriors facing long odds down 3-1, but it has been done

/ 06:48 PM May 25, 2016
Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors looks on from the bench during game two of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors looks on from the bench during game two of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 18, 2016 in Oakland, California. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

MIAMI — Here’s good news for Golden State: It’s not over.

Close, but not over.

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There are nine teams in NBA history who have successfully overcome 3-1 deficits to win a series, which is the task the defending champion Warriors now face in their Western Conference finals matchup with Oklahoma City.

Otherwise, the greatest season in NBA regular-season history – 73-9 – will end without even a trip to the Finals.

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Here are the nine who overcame the odds:

Boston vs. Philadelphia, 1968, East Finals

Game 5: Celtics 122, at 76ers 104

Game 6: at Celtics 114, 76ers 106

Game 7: Celtics 100, at 76ers 96

The Celtics did it the super-hard way, winning two of the final three games on the road. Boston trailed 57-56 at the half of Game 5 but went on a 38-23 fourth-quarter run to extend the series, then survived 40 points from Hal Greer to win Game 6 and got double-digit scoring from six players to take Game 7. That sent Boston to the NBA Finals, where it topped the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2.

L.A. Lakers vs. Phoenix, 1970, West Semifinals

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Game 5: at Lakers 138, Suns 121

Game 6: Lakers 104, at Suns 93

Game 7: at Lakers 129, Suns 94

Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West each scored 36 points in Game 5 as the Lakers pulled away late. Game 6 was tied going into the fourth quarter and the Lakers found separation again, and then Game 7 was a rout. The Lakers swept the next round against Atlanta to extend their winning streak to seven, but fell in the NBA Finals to the New York Knicks 4-3.

Washington vs. San Antonio, 1979, East Finals

Game 5: at Bullets 107, Spurs 103

Game 6: Bullets 108, at Spurs 100

Game 7: at Bullets 107, Spurs 105

George Gervin led a huge Spurs comeback try in Game 5 that fell just short, and the Bullets broke a tie with a 21-10 run late in Game 6. And in Game 7, Bobby Dandridge scored 37 points – the last of those a 12-footer from the baseline in the final seconds – as the Bullets moved on to the NBA Finals. There, they lost to the Seattle SuperSonics 4-1.

Boston vs. Philadelphia, 1981, East Finals

Game 5: at Celtics 111, 76ers 109

Game 6: Celtics 100, at 76ers 98

Game 7: at Celtics 91, 76ers 90

This was a series for the ages. Boston erased a six-point deficit in the final 1:51 of Game 5 to stay alive, scoring the final eight points. In Game 6, Boston was down by 17 in the second quarter and 15 in the third before rallying again. And one more comeback awaited in Game 7, the Celtics finding a way back from a seven-point hole midway through the fourth quarter. Boston then beat Houston 4-2 for the title.

Houston vs. Phoenix, 1995, West Semifinals

Game 5: Rockets 103, at Suns 97, OT

Game 6: at Rockets 116, Suns 103

Game 7: Rockets 115, at Suns 114

Hakeem Olajuwon scored late to send Game 5 to overtime, where Houston escaped. In Game 6, Olajuwon scored 30 and the Rockets pulled away in the fourth quarter. And then in Game 7, Mario Elie’s corner 3-pointer in the final seconds was the decider as Houston went to the West finals. There, the Rockets ousted San Antonio 4-2, then swept Orlando in the NBA Finals.

Miami vs. New York, 1997, East Semifinals

Game 5: at Heat 96, Knicks 81

Game 6: Heat 95, at Knicks 90

Game 7: at Heat 101, Knicks 90

Some probably remember this series for “The Fight.” The Knicks and Heat battled in Game 5 and the penalties were fierce – New York played without Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston and Charlie Ward for Game 6, then were without Larry Johnson and John Starks for Game 7. Tim Hardaway scored 38 points for Miami in the deciding game to oust the Knicks, but the Heat would lose to Chicago 4-1 in the East finals.

Detroit vs. Orlando, 2003, East Quarterfinals

Game 5: at Pistons 98, Magic 67

Game 6: Pistons 103, at Magic 88

Game 7: at Pistons 108, Magic 93

The top-seeded Pistons lost homecourt because they couldn’t contain Orlando’s Tracy McGrady in Game 1, but they figured out a solution in time to advance. A 14-0 run in the third quarter sparked a blowout, Chauncey Billups scored 40 points in Game 6 and followed that with 37 more in Game 7. The Pistons beat Philadelphia 4-2 in the East semis, then got swept by New Jersey in the East finals.

Phoenix vs. L.A. Lakers, 2006, West Quarterfinals

Game 5: at Suns 114, Lakers 97

Game 6: Suns 126, at Lakers 118, OT

Game 7: at Suns 121, Lakers 90

Kobe Bryant’s layup at the buzzer of Game 4 gave the Lakers a 3-1 series lead, but the second-seeded Suns fended off the upset bid. Boris Diaw scored 25 points in Game 5 for Phoenix, Tim Thomas hit a long 3 late in regulation of Game 6 to force overtime and Game 7 was decided quickly. Phoenix went seven games again in the West semifinals to beat the Los Angeles Clippers, then lost 4-2 in the West finals to Dallas.

Houston vs. L.A. Clippers, 2015, West Semifinals

Game 5: at Rockets 124, Clippers 103

Game 6: Rockets 119, at Clippers 107

Game 7: at Rockets 113, Clippers 100

The Clippers won Game 3 by 25, then won Game 4 by 33 for a 3-1 series lead. James Harden had 26 points in Game 5 to lead Houston’s win, and then the Rockets outscored the Clippers 40-15 in the fourth quarter on the road in Game 6 to make a 13-point deficit with 12 minutes left more than disappear. Harden added 31 more points in Game 7, and the Rockets moved to the West finals, where they lost 4-1 to Golden State.

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