Celtics, Rockets Eye Long Odds, History

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — No team in NBA playoff history has ever lost a best-of-seven series after surging ahead 3-0. So the odds of one team choking it away are worse than a freak Midwest snow storm in the heart of spring.

Suddenly we have two teams trying to make it rain on their opponents’ parade.

The Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets return to their respective home arenas Friday night with the objective of extending their first-round series to the wire after losing the first three games. Trying to avoid postseason infamy and outright humiliation is the second-seeded New York Knicks, the clever characters who dressed in black on Wednesday for a Game 5 “funeral” at Madison Square Garden. However, as Knicks Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith dutifully pointed out afterward, they were the ones that got buried by the resilient Celtics.

Over in the Western Conference, the eighth-seeded Rockets in Game 5 dominated a discombobulated Oklahoma City team without their heart-and-soul point guard Russsell Westbrook. Former Thunder guard James Harden splashed seven 3s for Houston and scored 31 points.

So what are the odds that either the Celtics or Rockets can at least get their respective series to a Game 7? Cloudy, at best.

Only three teams down 3-0 have ever won the next three to go the distance: The Knicks did it against Rochester in the 1951 Finals; the Denver Nuggets against the Utah Jazz in the 1994 West semifinals; and the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2003 West first round. The latter two were double-digit victories for the home team.

“Mainly because the other team is a lot better,” Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said when asked why teams down 3-0 typically bow out in Game 4 as his injury-depleted club did against the San Antonio Spurs.

And truth be told, if Westbrook doesn’t tear the meniscus in his right knee, the Thunder are likely sitting back waiting to see if the Memphis Grizzlies close out the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 6 or if those two are headed back to L.A. for one final bludgeoning.

But Westbrook’s absence has changed everything. The Rockets, the youngest team in the playoffs as the Thunder once were, are feeling confident. They have to believe that if they continue to run-and-gun and don’t allow anyone not named Kevin Durant to go crazy that they have a great chance to force a Game 7 back at Oklahoma City on Sunday.

The Celtics, logic insists, don’t have as good a chance as Houston because they don’t have a built-in opening like the Rockets with the catastrophic injury to the all-important Westbrook. The Knicks aren’t missing a star player. They possess the league’s scoring champion in Carmelo Anthony (18-for-59 from the field in Games 4 and 5), the Sixth Man in Smith (suspended for Game 4, 3-for-14 in Game 5), last season’s Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler, a more threatening offense and they’re deeper at just about every position, if not at every position.

But, as long as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are wearing green — and add cold-blooded Jason Terry, a champ himself in 2011 with Dallas — the Celtics just don’t die. A raucous TD Garden on Friday will put the Knicks’ veteran poise to the test.

The Knicks must dig down to avoid the No. 1 derogatory label in all of sports — chokers. And the Thunder must figure out how to pick themselves up without Westbrook.

The odds remain steep for the Celtics and Rockets. Then again, as Jason Collins proved this week, there’s always a first for everything.


  1. IdealtheReal says:

    Knicks will wrap it up in Boston. Not only do they have a great coach, the veteran leadership will shine through and we will return the favor with a win on their floor.

  2. allen says:

    i hope Celtics can make this history… don’t underestimate the heart of the champion… Let’s Go C E L T I C S…

  3. celtic pride says:

    For Boston to win 2 more games, Paul pierce can’t be cold from the field.

  4. Abdillahi Elmi says:

    Houston is gonna beat Thunder, just wait and see, because this is when AMAZING HAPPENS!!

  5. The Celtics probably will not beat the Knicks. But can the baby Rockets upset the mighty Thunder?? All depends on game 6. If houston wills themselves to a third consecutive victory and forces a game 7 in OKC then I like their chances for 3 reasons. 1) momentum and confidence from a 3 game win streak 2) the home crowd didn’t matter in game 5, nor did hack-ASIK work nor did Brooks coaching moved 3) two words- JAMES HARDEN!

  6. Inevitable says:

    Playoff-level defence has shaken Melo for the moment but the numbers tell us the Knicks are poised for a return to form. It would be a fairy tale end for the Celtics to advance to the next round, but very unlikely. Knicks will eventually face the Heat in what will probably be the best contest in the playoffs.
    Likewise for OKC, Martin cannot continue to shoot so poorly, even if he plays an average game OKC will close out the round. He has had more than enough good looks, but hasn’t converted. Fisher, Collison, and Reggie Jackson need to up their contribution and it’s lights out for Houston. I still think they look good for a return to the finals. Grizzlies will not have the same success trying to bang down low against Perkins and Ibaka. Spurs will run out of gas. Bring on the Heat!

  7. @ momo-sorry but your wrong-the Celtics were the first to come back from 0-2 back in 1969 w/ the great Bill Russel as player/coach-granted they weren’t an 8th seed-but 1st to come back from 0-2 in playoffs-not sure if finals or semis.

  8. Davro83 says:

    I was always worried for whoever faced the celtics in the first round. But with this series It comes down to Knicks shooting. Knicks played reasonable well the last game, they just couldnt make any shots. If their shooting percentage was like it was in the season they would have easily won. Too much emphasis on the celtics playing great, when all it came down to was Knicks poor shooting. They are a 3point team and unfortunatley, if you live by the 3 you also die by the 3. If knicks can make the buckets next game or even game 7 then they will easily win.

  9. Remember that history gets made everyday!
    ONE GAME @ A TIME!!!

  10. dgt2 says:

    If DOC can get (add) one + from either randolf or wilcox series will be theirs

  11. Joniel Suezo says:

    I think the celtics has all to defeat the Knicks rather than the houston rockets. What if Harden will go cold? Who will step up for the Rockets?

    For me, the Celtics has a better chance to make an upset because of course they are a defensive minded team and mostly defense wins.

  12. RocketsThunderFan says:

    I think the Rockets have a better chance of making history than the Celtics if the Thunder keep playing like they are lost. I wonder what is wrong with Martin lately. Durant can’t do everything. Even Lebron has a strong supporting cast.

  13. KaplanLBJsGF says:

    Aw, c’mon Kaplan. after 3 games in the series, you guys are into counting out Boston. Now, 2 games after, you’re all into licking their balls.

    I’m a Boston fan, but all this drama due to media hype is just too much. Just let my team play.

  14. bu says:

    Rockets in 7 a 65/35 bet.

    Celtics in 7 a 50/50 bet – if JR’s wild shots go in while Melo gets 13/26, & Felton gets 20 & 8, Knicks win. So it comes down to Celtics’ D, & trusting the ball, go inside, & hope JR keeps taking low % shots & miss.

  15. momo says:

    The Nuggets did it 1994 against the Utah Jazz, not 2004. This was in the second round after they were the first 8th seed to upset the 1st seed. This was also after they were the first team to come from 2-0 down to win the next 3 in the first round of the playoffs. So history was made once and can be made again.

  16. jack says:

    Can somebody tell me if Harden negotiated his transfer to the Rockets or he was forced to? He was so important for OK. A bad decision to deal such a talented player

  17. Jay says:

    Rockets in 7, now that westbrick is out and no one else on the OKC roster other than Durant wants to step up.

  18. Juan Kevin says:

    Celtic should win one more championship before KG retired..

  19. Kjames says:

    It will go game 7 folks. but knicks and thunder will prevail becoz simply they have kevin durant and carmel anthony in desperation mode. too hot to stop!

    • celtics forever says:

      Melo has been desperate to make shots since game 4 and look whats happening to him right now. Desperation will kill you.

  20. HNIC says:

    Boston will force game 7…and lose
    OKC will finish Rockets next game
    Chicago and BK will go 7 and Chicago will close out
    GS and Denver will go 7 and Denver will close out
    Pacers will beat ATL next game
    Memphis will finish Clips in 6

  21. nekbeth says:

    Two facts:

    1: Boston has 5 strongs minds that already won a championships. (and they were all key players or coaches).
    2: Boston has nothing to lose, society already discarded them 3 years ago. (and that is a fact).

  22. many says:

    We were already counting the Boston Celtics out but somehow flip the switch on the deffence and offence providing the second most interesting series following the Bull-Nets series
    Celtics -Knicks
    Bull- Nets
    OKC – Rockets
    Clippers- Grizzles
    are making up for the other first round series that were boring
    Miami- Bucks
    Spurs – Lakes
    Hawks- Pacers

  23. TT says:

    The Celtics need to go because the Jet needs to shut up.

  24. kingk says:

    This is great for the game of basketball!

  25. I just hope that when this era is over people realize just how much Paul Pierce did for this franchise. It feels like he’s been here forever and he never complained during the hard times early in his career. Paul Pierce is the only one who has ever struck fear into LeBron James and is a true champion who has always been underrated and will be truly missed by Celtics fans when they don’t have him to rely on and send chills down your spine in the playoffs with his clutch shots.

    • celtics forever says:

      stop being emotional this is not the time for that. They WILL Advance to ECF and face the Heat. just trust the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett there’s nothing they can’t overcome

  26. cailean says:

    2004 west semis? denver and utah?

  27. derf says:

    I think the Cs has a great chance of forcing a game 7. Now in game 7 it will be an intense basketball. The Celtics have to stop Melo and JR while Doc Rivers has to do the same thing they did on game 5, defense is their key in winning the series. As for the Knicks they have to sink those 3 pointers because that’s were they are known for this season, Chandler and Martin has to tighten the defense inside the paint and control KGs jumpers and force the others to take jumpers from the outside. Its possible to win a series down 0-3… just believe…. and it will happen….

  28. theslyguys says:

    Have faith in the Rockets, they’ve proved they can beat OKC both at home and away! Who’s to say they can’t do it again? As long as they keep draining them 3’s, they’ll pull through!

    • OKCKD35 says:

      and as long as OKc keeps missing wide open shots. That’s what is killing us, Thabo, martin, even ibaka, are just missing open shots, one of them shoots their average and this series is over.

  29. Juno says:

    The ’04 West Semis featured Wolves-Kings, Spurs-Lakers series. What the hell is the author saying about the Nuggets-Jazz???

  30. Juno says:

    The 2004 West Semis was Wolves-Kings, Spurs-Lakers. What the hell is this author saying about Jazz-Nuggets in ’04???

  31. Memo says:

    So you are basing this article on only history. Instead of looking at the talent on both teams, the fact that they are going to their home court, etc. Still you give it a very low chance, doesn’t make much sense.

  32. I hate to say it but honestly this series is all about what the Knicks do, not the Celtics. If the Knicks man up and mature and play their best basketball they are clearly the more talented team (even though if the Celtics had Rondo and the Paul Pierce of old they would clearly be more talented). But yet they continue to find ways to shoot themselves in the foot and the Celtics are just taking advantage of it like poised veterans are supposed to do. That’s the REAL reason this is still a series, not because J.R. choke wasn’t playing in Game 4 (LOL). But now that the Celtics have confidence I can see them rallying around their home crowd in Boston and then Paul Pierce could put the ultimate dagger in the heart of the Knicks by making clutch after clutch shot on Sunday in New York. I think the C’s will run out of gas on Sunday after what will be another hard-fought win on Friday. It will look much like it did last year in Miami. It’s also worth mentioning that K.G. deserves a shoutout for that inspiring performance last night. People have no clue how much pain he endures just to play one game. I’m pulling for my C”s to make history and put together one last memory together as their core, but it won’t matter even if they do win this series because nobody’s beating Miami.

  33. hillel7 says:

    Making the comparison between a 3-0 series deficit and Jason Collins coming out as the first active professional sports player to come out as gay is a bad way to end a good article. Somehow, this logic leaves me wondering why that even had to be brought up.

    • Jeff Caplan says:

      Woah! I was thinking the EXACT same thing. It didn’t offend me or anything but it was a weird and unnecessary (or relevant really..) to tie those two things together.

    • thanks says:

      I completely agree with you. It is so obnoxious when people bring up random things just to advertise it.

    • Bob says:

      I completely agree with you. I thought the exact same thing reading the end. What a horrible way to end an article. It’s no where near insulting or anything, it’s just… I don’t know, unprofessional? I don’t know.. just doesn’t fit.

  34. travis fee says:

    come on celtics u can smash knicks, all they need to do is shut down melo and JR

  35. JYMNE says:

    I Believe Celtics have great chance winning the series if they are play 4 quarters basketball like last nite!!!

  36. newyorksteelo says:

    Not a chance. Save it for a future younger team in a similar situation with enough endurance to break this never before broken record. Too old and too many injuries. Sorry.

    • Yup says:

      The problem is that younger teams don’t have the experience to pull of a feat like that. IMO if it does happen it will be done by a team with a mix of old (experience) and young (endurance). That being said, I don’t think the Celtics have enough left in the tank to pull of the feat but the Rockets have a good shot.

  37. Patty says:



    • celtics forever says:

      JR smith and surprisingly Kenyon Martin are immatures. instead of talking trash while your team is starting to pull off an epic fail, why not focus on playing?

  38. rondo says:

    I hope the celtics will beat the knicks because I honestly think they have better chance. They beat the hawks, pacers brooklyn, miami. I also really like Terrence Williams. He is a good all around player and he deserves more minutes.

    • Patty says:




    • Simba says:

      Knicks beat Hawks all 3 times this season, split the series with the Pacers and Brooklyn and beat Miami 3 out of the 4 times. Pretty sure if anyone has a good chance of going through from the East other than Miami it would be the Knicks.

      • steagle says:

        Good logic, but regular season results really don’t matter in the playoffs.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah so true steagle (I was being sarcastic) Just ask the Bobcats they’ll tell you exactly that won’t they (more sarcasm).

      • dan says:

        steagle is so right (sarcasm) we shouldn’t even have a regular season OR pre-season for that matter (sarcasm) just the playoffs.. look out for the pistons (sarcasm)

  39. Bstarr says:

    As a Celtics fan I thought this one was over after 3-0. But Doc Rivers did exactly what I was thinking all 3 losses long:

    BENCH CLOWNS LIKE C. LEE, J. CRAWFORD AND C. WILCOX AND DON’T EVEN LET THEM PLAY !!! Those guys did mess up our a first 3 games big time! Give the Jet more playtime so he can make shots like R. Allen did once for us.

    And yes it works! But I’m not sure if they can do this again 2 games in a row.

    I hope for a game 7 and with God’s help we might reach the CF to battle Miami (very optimistic I know). And if not then let it be the Knicks in the CF against those Miami whiners.

    And for the Rockets……no way that they will win the series, I say OKC in 6.

  40. W/E says:

    Ok so they got momentum going But, another 2 wins in a row? I dont think its gunna happen, even if both teams get game 6 which i doubt it am pretty sure that both Knicks and OKC will get past the first round in game 7, in the most crazy scenario either celtics or ROckets might make the miracle and get the game 7, eventually that will happen at some point in NBA history but both teams doing it right now i dont think so.

  41. Wally says:

    Celtics in 7. Just watch.

    • LeBronBoss says:

      That was my guess since before the start of the playoffs

      • celtics forever says:

        we still have some business with the heat and that traitor

      • TT says:

        A bunch of has-beens. No pity for them. The Jet can go and fly a kite. The Big Ticket just got pounded, torn and discarded into a carton of ‘used’ tickets. The Truth learnt the truth that he is not the Truth, but a toothless old man.

  42. johnny dawson says:

    May the best team win!