Are eventual NBA champs ever routed in Finals?

RrsRe.St.56A great friend and loyal Heat fan texted me the following after the Spurs crushed the Heat [PG version]:

Shameful day for Heat fans … impossible to win by 20ish and then lose by 30ish … real champions would never lose like this … need to use my time more wisely than following sports

That last line hit me in my David Allen / GTD / soul.  So while I share the dismay–23 minutes after I had been assuring all in range that we were going to make it a game in the 4th–I’m keeping my mouth shut and doom in check given my abysmal track record of predictions about teams I’m rooting for or against.

So once again I turn to the NBA Basketball-Reference web site for a sliver of hope.  Considering a rout a loss by 20 or more; How often are eventual NBA champions routed in the same Finals?  Gulp, not often.

magic-mcgee-rileyAs would be expected, all the teams which suffered routs experienced them on the road.  You have to back to 1984 & 1985 for a series in which the eventual champion was down in the series after the rout, as Miami is now.

Bizarrely, Pat Riley was involved on both sides of the rout scenarios in 4 out of the 7 years between 1982 and 1988.

Examples of NBA champions who were routed in the same Finals:

  • 2005 – San Antonio lost game 4 to Detroit by 31, which tied the series 2-2. They won the series in 7.
    2000 – Los Angeles lost game 5 to Indiana by 23. They were still up 3-2 and won the series the next game.
    1996 – Chicago lost game 4 to Seattle by 21, however that still left them up 3-1. They won the series in game 6.
    1988 – Los Angeles [Pat Riley] lost game 4 to Detroit by 25 which tied the series 2-2. They won the series in game 7.
    1985 – Los Angeles [Pat Riley] lost game 1 to Boston by 34.  This game was referred to at the time as the ‘Memorial Day Massacre.’ The Lakers won the series in game 7. Only 1 game in that series was decided by less than 7 points.
    1985 – The 1st year of the 2-3-2 format.
    1984 – Boston lost game 3 to Los Angeles [Pat Riley] by 33, which put them down 2-1. They won the series in 7.
    1982 – Los Angeles [Pat Riley asst coach] lost game 5 to Philadelphia by 33, which left them up 3-2. They won the series in game 6.

Close but no cigars:

2010 – Boston came close. After losing a potential close-out game 6 by 22, they lost game 7 by 4.
1998 – Utah sorta came close. After losing game 3 to Chicago by 42, they eventually lost in 6. However, game 6 was a 1 point loss [Jordan push-off] at home with a potential game 7 awaiting at home.

About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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1 Response to Are eventual NBA champs ever routed in Finals?

  1. Thanks for the hope. Still hopeful, despite the Heat’s uninspiring losses. I think with their backs on the wall, they’ll scratch out a win tonight and despite not exactly dominating in the post season at home, as they had in the regular season, they will be inspired to win game 7…

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