The New York Knicks face elimination tonight. And although they need to take one game at a time, Knicks fans remain hopeful that Melo and crew will defend their homecourt to force a Game 6 on Saturday. But let’s be honest, hard to please Knicks fans won’t be satisfied unless the team goes on a three-game winning streak to eliminate the Indiana Pacers in seven games.
Last night, the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder fell short of pushing their series to six games, but will the Knicks be more prosperous tonight? Well, according to history, it’s not an impossibility. In the league’s history, eight teams have successfully bounced back from being down 3-1 to ultimately win the series, 4-3. Also, six out of the eight teams benefited from homecourt advantage, something the Knicks secured after beating the Indiana Pacers during the last week of the regular season.
In the spirit of #ThrowbackThursday and encouraging Knicks fans to keep hope alive, here’s a summary of the elite club that the Knicks aim to join, courtesy of Cleveland.com:
• 2006: The Phoenix Suns started the 2006 playoffs by falling behind, 3-1, to the Los Angeles Lakers before winning the series. They won the next round against the Los Angeles Clippers before losing in the conference finals to the Dallas Mavericks. Phoenix (54-28 during the regular season) had the homecourt advantage over the Lakers (45-37). Phoenix star: league MVP Steve Nash.
• 2003: The Detroit Pistons trailed the Orlando Magic, 3-1, but came back to win the Eastern Conference first-round matchup. The Pistons also won in the next round before losing in the conference finals. The Pistons (50-32) enjoyed the homecourt advantage over Orlando (42-40). Detroit defender: NBA defensive player of the year Ben Wallace.
• 1997: The Miami Heat came back to defeat the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but lost in the next round despite a 61-win regular season. Miami (61-21) had the homecourt advantage over New York (57-25). Miami scoring leader: Tim Hardaway.
• 1995: The underdog Houston Rockets rallied to defeat the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals, and then went on the win the NBA championship. During the regular season, Phoenix (59-23) was 12 games better than Houston (47-35). Houston starting lineup included current TNT analyst Kenny Smith.
• 1981: The Boston Celtics stormed back to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals en route to the NBA title. Boston and Philadelphia had tied for the best record in the East that year at 62-20, but Boston had the homecourt for Game 7. Boston star: Larry Bird.
• 1979: The Washington Bullets rallied to defeat the San Antonio Spurs in the Eastern Conference finals, before losing to the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA finals. Washington (54-28) had the homecourt advantage over San Antonio (48-34). Washington star: Elvin Hayes.
• 1970: The Los Angeles Lakers came back to defeat the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals and then advanced to the NBA finals before losing to the New York Knicks. During the regular season, the Lakers (46-36) had a better record than Phoenix (39-43). Laker stars: Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.
• 1968: The Boston Celtics rallied to defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers to win the Eastern Conference finals and then went on to win the NBA championship. The Celtics did this despite having to win Game 7 in Philadelphia. The 76ers (62-20) had a better record than Boston (54-28) during the regular season. Boston stars: Bill Russell and John Havlicek.
As you see, homecourt advantage wasn’t the only benefit. A few of the teams that made history also had bonafide superstars: Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, and Steve Nash, to name a few. Message being, if the Knicks plan to get it done, Carmelo must dial into Melo Mode and play like his life depends on it. That Syracuse dominance from ’03 and unstoppable flow that helped him seal the scoring champ title toward the end of the season. Yep, we need that Melo. It’ll also help if Coach Woodson stops sleepwalking during the playoffs and wakes the hell up!