The Los Angeles Lakers dominated the first two games of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, winning Game 1 by 18 points and Game 2 by 10. Carried by Jimmy Butler’s 40-point triple-double on Sunday, the Heat managed to escape a 3-0 deficit.
Can the Heat continue to turn the series around?
Although it’s rare for teams to not go on to be crowned champions after entering Game 4 of the Finals with a 2-1 lead – like the Lakers have – it is not impossible.
In the last 20 NBA seasons, there have been 11 teams to claim victory after taking a 2-1 lead in the Finals. Only five teams have been able to overcome a 2-1 series deficit to win the championship.
LAKERS VS. HEAT:Can Jimmy Butler do it again, or will L.A. regain control?
Here’s a look at how 2-1 series leads have played out in recent years in the NBA Finals:
In 2000, the Los Angeles Lakers led the series against the Indiana Pacers 2-1 and went on to win the title in six games. L.A. also secured titles after jumping out to 2-1 Finals leads in 2001 against the Philadelphia 76ers (won in five); in 2009 against the Orlando Magic (another five-game victory); and once more in 2010 against the Boston Celtics (a seven-game classic).
In 2003, the San Antonio Spurs took a 2-1 Finals lead against the New Jersey Nets and turned it into a championship after six games. They replicated the formula in title wins in 2005 against the Detroit Pistons (seven games) and again in 2014 against the Heat (five games).
Others who sealed the deal up 2-1
The Pistons have one title in the 21st century, which they captured after jumping out to a 2-1 lead against the Lakers in the 2004 Finals. They would win Game 4 and close out L.A. in five games.