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

The Bucks are halfway there. They left Arizona with a 2-0 against that seemed an almost insurmountable slab In a Finals that started cold due to the knee problems of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the superiority evidenced by those of Monty Williams in the first two games. But the tables have been turning in Wisconsin: 2-2 after two games in which the Bucks defense has dictated their law and between Giannis and Khris Middleton (and Jrue Holiday’s stocks of Chris Paul) they have secured two victories that have neutralized the Suns’ lead (2-2) on the verge of a three-game miniseries.

There are a minimum of three games left (Saturday and Tuesday) and a maximum of three. At the latest, next Thursday there will be a champion, in a seventh game that would be played, like the fifth, in Phoenix. The Bucks seek be the fourth team that manages to turn a 2-0 against in the fight for the ring. If they succeed, they would have achieved a comeback that would be at the height of the most spectacular in the history of the playoffs. These are:

RETURNED IN THE FIGHT FOR THE RING

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. In addition, it was the first time since 1978 that the champion was crowned in a seventh away game. Kyrie Irving and especially a monstrous LeBron James led to an impossible comeback. LeBron, in fact, became the first player to lead an entire 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: He’s only come back 2-0 four times in the Finals: 2016 Cavaliers, 1969 Celtics, 1977 Blazers … and the big turnaround of 2006, when superlative Dwyane Wade led the Miami Heat to their first title against winning Mavericks. 2-0 and clearly commanded in the third. It was a harrowing and controversial 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 their 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 the sixth game, with 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 had 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 to 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 2-0 and 3-2 advantages 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), which had never played the playoffs or had a winning record until that 1976-77 season, the first since the NBA-ABA merger. 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 extra time, the red giant finished with 20 + 27 + 7 + 8. A fight in Game 2 sparked blazer pride… and anticipated the comeback with four straight wins for the Oregonians.

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 had a 15-point lead on their court with seven minutes remaining. But the Mavs came back in incredible fashion 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.

OTHER GREAT REMOVALS AT PLAYOFFS

DENVER NUGGETS 2020: You have to start with the Denver Nuggets in the 2020 playoffs, those of the Florida bubble. For the first time in history, a team came back from 3-1 twice in the same title ties. 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 games in a row against Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but they also came back in 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 final of the West, although there they could no longer with 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 that has done it 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 three remaining games in Arizona. They all won, the fifth in overtime 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 that is 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 at 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 in seven games before some very powerful 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 final 107-109. In Game 6, LeBron had three baskets and 20 points, but rookie Daniel Gibson scored 31 points and got Ohio’s team in their 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 the No. 1 in their Conference. 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 by Dikembe Mutombo) and prevailed in the fifth in Seattle, where the Sonics had only lost 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 be traced 3-1 in the Finals, the 73-9 Warriors achieved exactly the same thing (albeit with a home court factor and their 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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