The greatest comebacks in history: LeBron, Hakeem, Bird ...

The Heat have to do something that only the Cavs did in 2016: come back 3-1 in the Final. But in history they have more illustrious examples.


The Heat face a major challenge if they want to be NBA champions: come back 3-1 against the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that has not lost two straight games in these playoffs (15-4 total, 4-0 after defeat ) and that features the two best players in the series (with the utmost respect to Jimmy Butler): LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

In the Finals, a difference like this has only been traced once, and the Lakers have the player who, precisely, caused that turnaround: LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to an impossible 3-4 in 2016 and to the first ring in their history. Days before, the Ohioans lost 3-1, an advantage that had never been raised in the fight for the title, against Warriors who, in addition, had come from signing the best Regular Season in history (73-9) and defended their title achieved in 2015.

In the total of the playoffs, the 3-1 has come back 13 times, twice in these bubble heats and both with the same protagonist: Denver Nuggets. The Rockies went 3-1 against the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers and in both cases they won three games in a row to sneak into the West final. There the Lakers also went 3-1 but, in their case, they did not fail and sentenced in the fifth game (4-1) with a colossal performance from LeBron.

The Nuggets, of course, are an example for a Heat that was always ahead in their Eastern playoffs and that in the Finals they have been in tow from the first game. But in the history of the NBA there are other really historic comebacks that have a gap between the most epic and remembered chapters of the great League. These are:


CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 2016: The great comeback. There had never been a 3-1 in the history of the Finals, with the addition that the Warriors had just signed the best Regular Season in history (73-9) and were the reigning champions. Furthermore, it was the first time since 1978 that the champion was crowned in a seventh away game. Kyrie Irving and above all a monstrous LeBron James led to an impossible comeback. LeBron, in fact, became the first player to lead a full series, let alone a Finals, in the top five statistical categories (29.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 2.5 steals and 2 , 2 plugs) .

MIAMI HEAT 2006: Has only come back from 2-0 four times in the Finals: three are already cited (2016 Cavaliers, 1969 Celtics, 1977 Blazers) and the fourth was the 2006 turnaround, when a superlative Dwyane Wade led the Miami Heat to his first title against a Mavericks who won 2-0 and led It was one clearly in the third. It was a harrowing and contentious series of finishes, especially in the famous fifth game, in which Wade threw as many free throws as the Mavericks (25) and added 21 of his 43 points from the personnel line, including a protested last foul in. extremis. In the sixth, the Mavs threw a 14-point lead in the first half (Wade added 36) but his great opportunity had been in the third, when he was leading by 13 to six minutes from the end and conceded the comeback that changed the series (from the hypothetical 3-0 to 2-1). Wade was MVP with averages of 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 steals.

MIAMI HEAT 2013: Two tremendous teams (the Big Three Heat and Popovich's Spurs) and an incredible outcome, that of Ray Allen's miraculous triple to force Game 7. The Spurs had the title in hand in Game 6, 2-3 in favor: ten up at the start of the fourth quarter and four with two free throws for Ginobili with 37 seconds remaining. But the Argentine missed one of his shots, LeBron hit a triple and Kawhi Leonard forgave another personnel pitch worth half the championship. At 92-95, LeBron did not hit from the line of three but the Spurs did not close the rebound and Chris Bosh sent him to the corner, where Allen tied with a historic shot. The Heat did not fail in overtime or later in Game 7, in which LeBron added 37 points.

BOSTON CELTICS 1969: The last and surely the most incredible title of the Bill Russell dynasty in Boston. With the pivot as coach / player, aging Celtics did not enter the pools even to be in the Final, let alone to surprise the West Lakers, Baylor and Chamberlain. It was the first time that a visitor won the title in a seventh and the only time that a player from the defeated team (Jerry West) was named MVP of the series. In the last game, at the Forum, the owner of the Lakers (Jack Kent Cooke) ordered the balloons that would be released from the ceiling as soon as a title that never arrived was certified. It was the extra bit of motivation that the irreducible Celtics needed. Decided an agonizing basket of Don Nelson. The Lakers had advantages of 2-0 and 3-2 in the Final, but lost 3-4.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS 1977: The blazersmania Finals, the madness in Portland with a team created just seven years earlier (1970) that had never played the playoffs or had a winning record until that 1976-77 season, the first since the NBA merger -ABA. With the legendary Jack Ramsay on the bench, the Blazers had a wonderful team system that allowed them to deliver a colossal surprise: The Sixers went 2-0 and did not win again. The main reason, of course, Bill Walton: MVP with averages of 18.5 points, 19 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.4 blocks. In the sixth game, in which McGinnis was able to force the extension, the red giant finished with 20 + 27 + 7 + 8. A fight in the second game sparked blazer pride… and anticipated the comeback with four straight wins for the Oregon team.

DALLAS MAVERICKS 2011: The Mavs returned to the Heat the disappointment of 2006 in the first Finals of the big three LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh, who could not with a historic Dirk Nowitzki (26 points and almost 10 rebounds on average). The Heat won the first game and held a 15-point lead on their court with seven minutes remaining. But the Mavs came back in an incredible way and came out of Miami tied at one in the series. The Heat responded in Texas and regained the field advantage (2-1)… but they did not win again. The Mavericks became the first team that lost the third game and was 2-1 against and managed to come back and take the ring. No one had ever done it. The Heat, in fact, did not win any more games (2-4) and delivered the Finals on their court. Still today, LeBron James assures that the comeback that his team conceded in that fateful second game hurts him.


DENVER NUGGETS 2020: Let's start, of course with the Denver Nuggets in these 2020 playoffs. For the first time in history, a team came back 3-1 twice in the same title qualifiers. Those of Michael Malone achieved it in the first round against the Jazz and, with much more merit, in the semifinals of the West against the Clippers, for many the great favorite to the ring. The Nuggets were not only able to win three straight games against Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but they also came back on the three differences that seemed almost decisive ... or literally definitive: in the three second parts of those games, the Clippers conceded partial 49- 67, 35-64 and 33-50. The total in the final three quarters ended at 59-94. Already at 3-2, in the last two games the Nuggets only received 35 and 33 points in the second half. And they got into the West final, although there they could no longer beat the Lakers.

HOUSTON ROCKETS 1995: An incredible team, that of “never underestimate the heart of a champion from Rudy Tomjanovich, his coach. After winning the 1994 title, the Rockets played just 47 games in the 1994-95 regular season. But they ended up being champions, the only team to do so from a fifth place in their Conference. In the playoffs they defeated the Jazz (60 wins), Suns (59), Spurs (62) and finally the Orlando Magic (57). An incredible journey culminating in the 0-4 against Florida in the Final and which had its peak in the semifinal against the Suns. After a 3-2 rush to the Jazz, Hakeem Olajuwon's men found themselves 2-0 and 3-1 against ... and two of the remaining three games in Arizona. they all won, the fifth in extra time and the seventh by one point (114-115) and thanks to the iconic triple, that of the kiss of death, by Mario Elie.

CELTICS 1981: The Celtics would not have been champions in 1981 without their historic comeback against the Sixers in the Eastern Final, a series considered one of the best of all time. The Celtics had Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Tiny Archibald, Cedric Maxwell and Kevin McHale still as sixth man. The Sixers to Julius Erving, Bobby Jones, Darryl Dawkins and Andrew Toney. The Sixers won the first game at the Garden and the first two in Philadelphia to go 1-3 that seemed definitive. And more when in the fifth game they won 103-109 at 1:51 from the end. But the Celtics won 111-109. In the sixth, the Sixers wasted a 13-point lead (98-100 final) and in the seventh the Celtics were back behind almost all the time, also in the fourth quarter. But they won again narrowly (91-90) with the last basket scored by Larry Bird 1:03 from the end.

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 2007. Again LeBron James, this time en route to his first Finals. A year earlier, in their first playoffs, LeBron had lost, in the second round and seven games before some mighty Pistons, the bulk of the champion team in 2004. But in 2007 the King rebelled and the Cavs won the final 4-2 of the East. Then they lost to the Spurs (4-0). The Pistons had won the first two games by the same score: 79-76. In the next three games, leading to a 2-4 final, LeBron averaged 35 points, 8.3 rebounds and 9 assists, with a legendary performance in Game 5, at the Palace of Auburn Hills: he scored the last 25 points for the Cavs. , 18 between the two overtimes that were played for a 107-109 final. In Game 6, LeBron had three baskets and 20 points, but rookie Daniel Gibson scored 31 points and put Ohio in his first Finals.

DENVER NUGGETS 1994: In the first round of the 1994 playoffs, the Nuggets rallied 2-0 over the Sonics and became (2-3) the first eighth seed to eliminate their Conference number 1. There were 21 wins between the two (63-42) and the Sonics also won the first two games by more than ten points. But then, and to everyone's surprise, the Nuggets won both Denver games, the fourth in overtime (with 8 blocks from Dikembe Mutombo) and prevailed in the fifth in Seattle, where the Sonics had lost only four games. The ticket for the second round was resolved in overtime, where the Nuggets sealed a surprise that is legend in the NBA.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 2016: A round before being the first team to come back from 3-1 in a Finals, the 73-9 Warriors achieved exactly the same (although with a home court factor and the seventh game on their court) in the West final, against the Thunder who missed a unique opportunity in what ended up being Kevin Durant's last season before the forward announced his departure to, precisely, the Warriors. Over four games, the Thunder burned a beaten Warriors: +16 in the first, in Oakland, +28 in the third and +24 in the fourth. Desperate, the Warriors won the fifth on their track in trouble and thanks to a good second half and traveled to the OKC pressure cooker to try to save the season. They did it with one of the best playoff games of recent times: 101-108, with a comeback in the second half and a memorable performance by Klay Thompson, who saved his team with a series of impossible triples: 41 points and 11 triples. , playoff record. In the seventh (96-88) the Thunder had thirteen point leads before the break but Stephen Curry decided (36 points) .

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