The Spurs claimed a 2-1 Finals lead behind a barrage of trifectas last night. If history is any indication, the series may well be over.
Since Gregg Popovich became coach in 1996 the Spurs have held 2-0 or 2-1 leads in 31 playoff series. In those situations, San Antonio is 29-2.
The two series losses followed the same trend: the Spurs went up 2-0 with home wins before going on the road and losing four straight games. The Oklahoma City Thunder pulled that comeback in last season’s Western Conference Finals and the Shaq-Kobe-Karl Malone-Gary Payton Lakers did the same in the 2004 Conference semifinals.
Both times, teams won two home games to spark a comeback. The Miami Heat will not enjoy that luxury: Games 4 and 5 will be played in San Antonio.
Which leads to another ominous statistic for Heat fans: Gregg Popovich is 79-28 at home in the playoffs, a 74 per cent winning percentage. The odds say the Spurs will finish this series in five.
It is hard to overstate the importance of the Spurs winning Game 1. Ask the Pacers how important it is to take a early series lead over the Heat. Had Indiana not blown Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals there is a good chance it would be a Pacers-Spurs Finals right now (that’s the sound of NBA executives taking a collective sigh of relief).
A lot will deservedly be made over adjustments leading up to Game 4, but the numbers suggest the Spurs are commanding favourites to win the title. But, hey, they play the games for a reason.
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