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History Shows 3-1 Hole Is Difficult But Possible To Overcome

The Heat are in a dire position by trailing 3-1 in the NBA Finals but the series is not over yet

By Larry Walansky
|  Friday, Jun 13, 2014  |  Updated 1:52 PM EDT
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The Heat are down but history shows they are not out

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Make no mistake, the Miami Heat are in trouble. They are down 3-1 in the NBA Finals and on the brink of elimination, but it is a surmountable deficit.

No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals but several teams have done it in earlier rounds, including the conference finals. To be exact, eight teams have pulled off the feat, including the 1997 version of the Heat.

The 1979 San Antonio Spurs were the other end of the feat when the Washington Bullets came back from 3-1 down against them.

The 2006 Phoenix Suns were the last team to come back in the NBA when trailing 3-1. They had home-court advantage however, something that the Heat are without. It would take going back to the 1995 Houston Rockets to find a similar situation to the Heat.

Coming back from a 3-1 deficit has also happened in the other major professional leagues, though it is a rare accomplishment in those as well. It's happened 12 times in Major League Baseball including five in the World Series. In the NHL, there have been 25 occurrences where a team fought back from a 3-1 hole.

One of the more recent MLB comebacks was actually a local one; the Florida Marlins as they were known at the time trailed the Chicago Cubs 3-1 in the 2003 NLCS with the last two games in Wrigley Field. The Marlins would famously go on to win three games in a row and then take home the World Championship in the next round.

Some will point out that the Marlins had a little help from a fan in Chicago during game six. While true, the team still strung together hits and ultimately had to win game seven as well. The fan interference was undoubtedly a turning point however.

To their credit, the Heat said the right things after their second straight blowout loss on Thursday.

"We put ourselves in a position where it is about making history," LeBron James said.

"I don't care about the odds. Odds are for people that can't do it," Chris Bosh added.

"When we're right, we can beat anybody anywhere. That's the only focus," head coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Fighting out of a 3-1 hole is not an easy task. It takes a little luck and it also takes consistent greatness but it is possible.

The Heat will need to play better than they did in their last two games however to have any hope of joining the short list of teams to accomplish the feat.

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