In an attempt to wrap our minds around the possibility of the Celtics pulling a Bruins-like choke, we asked the gurus at ESPN Stats and Information what the odds were against BOTH teams blowing 3-0 series leads.
Not counting the Bruins’ collapse against the Flyers in the Eastern conference semifinals or the Celtics' series against the Magic, there had been a combined 286 instances in which a team faced a 3-0 hole in best-of-7 series (162 NHL, 31 MLB, 93 NBA). Exactly three of those teams came back to take the series. That translates to about 1 percent of teams facing that deficit rallying to win.
The Red Sox famously beat those odds against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, as did the Flyers against the Bruins (sorry for the reminder). The Magic, with two straight victories over the Celtics in Games 6 and 7, would do the same, a feat that has never been accomplished in NBA history. All 93 teams with a 3-0 lead have won the series, and only three teams have even forced a Game 7.
Pegging the odds of the Bruins collapse at around 1 percent and the odds of a Celtics collapse at something less than 1 percent, having the both happen in the same season is like correctly guessing a number between 1 to 100 ... and then doing it again.
We’ve made attempts to get in touch with a few Bruins players over the last few days to get their take on a potential Celtics collapse but have been unsuccessful in reaching them. Chances are they’re busy enjoying some R&R, playing golf, etc., a fate the Celtics hope to put out of their minds by closing down the Magic in tonight’s Game 6 at the Garden (On ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET).
For their part, players and coaches of both the Celtics and Magic have brushed aside the Bruins comparisons. Kevin Garnett dismissed it as "apples and oranges," while Boston coach Doc Rivers didn't even bring it up to his team because he knew the media would take care of that. For the past week, Rivers has stressed that the biggest challenge of playing in Boston is dealing with the history, both good and bad.
"We've been in this position before, but we've also played in Boston a while, so we understand that panic," said Rivers. "Like I said a while ago a, the best part about playing in Boston is the worst part as well. There's great history. It's a great city, a great sports city. Probably as good as you can get.
"The good part about that is they can recount all the historical things that have happened in sports are the good ones. The bad part is they can recount all the historical things that happened in sports, all the bad ones. I don't think our guys get caught up in it much, to be honest. But it's definitely here and that is just this city. It's always been that way, and there is something good about that. They cheer, they're involved, that's good."
Added Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: "I would doubt that players would get affected by what happened in another sport, but I would have a hard time believing that. I don't think most of our guys on any of our teams follow hockey very much."