Miami Heat Must Do Something That's Only Been Accomplished Four Times in NBA Finals History

The Miami Heat will have to join a very exclusive club if they are to erase a two-game deficit and win the NBA Finals. In the history of the Finals, only four teams have ever come back to win the title after losing the first two games of the series, as the Heat have done against the Los Angeles Lakers this year.

In the 73 NBA Finals that have been played up until this year, the same team has won the first two games of the series in 34 occasions, with 30 of those teams going on to win the NBA title. To put the figures into context, that means that on 88.2 percent of occasions, the team that has taken a 2-0 lead has gone on to win the NBA Finals.

It's an ominous statistic for the Heat, who arrived into the NBA Finals as the second-biggest underdog in almost two decades. The omen is even worse considering the way the Lakers have bounced back from each of the three losses they have suffered in the current postseason. The Purple and Gold are 3-0 after losing in the playoffs, winning each game by a margin of 12.3 points and scoring an average of 114 points per game in each of those wins, with Anthony Davis and LeBron James putting up an average of 33 points and 8.7 rebounds and 21.3 points and 8.7 rebounds respectively.

The good news for the Heat is that courtesy of Jimmy Butler's monumental performance in Game 3—Miami All-Star guard became only the third player to deliver a 40-point triple-double in the history of the Finals, finishing with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists in the Heat's 115-104 win—they have already halved the gap. Miami also has a significant precedent in the same scenario, as the Heat came back from 2-0 to win the NBA Finals in 2006 and the franchise maiden title.

Here's what happened in each of the four occasions a team has managed to come back from 2-0 down to win the NBA title.

Pat Riley, Miami Heat
Pat Riley (center) and the Miami Heat celebrate winning the 2006 NBA Finals after defeating the Dallas Mavericks 95-92 in Game 6 on June 20, 2006 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Dwyane Wade was named MVP leading the Heat to a 4-2 win. Miami is one of only four teams to have won the NBA Finals after losing the first two games. Robert Sullivan/AFP

1969—Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers

After 10 titles in 12 seasons, the Celtics team that had dominated the NBA for over a decade looked to bow out on a high. A final flourish looked to be beyond an ageing team, as the Los Angeles Lakers took a 2-0 lead after winning the first two games by a combined margin of just eight points. The margins remain similarly slim as the Celtics took the next two games, winning Game 3 and Game 4 at the Boston Garden 111-105 and 89-88, thanks to John Havlicek's 34 points in the former and Sam Jones' buzzer-beater in the latter.

Inspired by Wilt Chamberlain, the Lakers took Game 5 but the Celtics hit back again, winning Game 6 with Bill Russell limiting Chamberlain to a mere eight points to force the Finals to a decider. Game 7 has gone down into NBA folklore after then Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke ordered thousands of balloons with "World Champion Lakers" printed on them. The balloons were suspended from the rafter of The Forum in preparation for what Kent Cooke thought would be an impending celebration. Unfortunately for him, the balloons were never used as the Celtics won 108-106, becoming the first team in history to win Game 7 of the NBA Finals on the road, while Lakers guard Jerry West became the first NBA Finals MVP in history and remains the only player to be named NBA Finals MVP despite being on the losing team.

1977—Portland Trail Blazers vs. Philadelphia 76ers

The Trail Blazers' first and so far only NBA title came against all odds. The franchise had been founded only seven years earlier and recorded its first winning season before making its playoffs debut and upsetting the bookmakers' favorite Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. The bubble appeared to have been well and truly bust after the Sixers won the first two games, thrashing Portland 107-89 in Game 2, but the Trail Blazers rebounded with two blowout wins of their own after the series moved back to Portland. Maurice Lucas finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds in Game 3 as Portland won 129-107, before the Trail Blazers leveled the series with a 130-98 win in Game 4. Having taken Game 5 in Philadelphia 110-104, the Blazers then secured their maiden NBA title by defeating Philadelphia 109-107 on home court with Bill Walton finishing with an incredible box score reading 20 points, 23 rebounds, seven assists and eight rebounds.

2006—Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks—who, incidentally, were the last team seeded fourth or lower to make it to the NBA Finals until No.5-seeded Miami reached the same stage this season—took the opening two games of the series by a double-digit margin, before Dwyane Wade erupted as the series moved to Florida. The Heat star finished with 42 points and 13 rebounds as his team rallied from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter of Game 3 to win 98-96, before adding 36 points in Game 4 as Miami leveled the series with a 98-74 win and then scoring a series-best 43 points as the Heat took Game 5 101-100 in overtime.

Wade top scored for Miami again in Game 6, finishing with 36 points as the Heat recovered from a 14-point first half deficit to clinch their first NBA title.

2016—Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

This year marks LeBron James' 10th NBA Finals appearance and it would take something monumental to overcome his efforts in 2016.

Cleveland was blown away in the first two games by a team that had won an NBA-record 73 regular season games, before James' 32 points helped the Cavs to cut their deficit down to 2-1 as they won Game 3 in Cleveland.

Hopes of a first title for the Cavs looked to be extinguished as the series moved back to Oakland with the Warriors leading 3-1, before LeBron bent the series to his will.

James finished with 41 points and 16 rebounds as the Cavs won Game 5 to keep the series alive, before James adding another 41 in Game 6 in Cleveland, becoming the first player since O'Neal in 2000 to score at least 40 points in back-to-back Finals game.

In Game 7, with the score tied at 89 and 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, LeBron blocked Andre Iguodala's attempted layup, delivering one of the most iconic moments in NBA Finals and swinging the momentum back towards the Cavs, who became the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit and win the title. James finished with 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game and was named NBA Finals MVP for a third time.