Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.
It appeared that the Boston Celtics had the Miami Heat right where they wanted them in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Finals series… a 15-point lead in the second quarter, and a seven-point lead at halftime.
But the Heat overcame the largest deficit in their playoff history and took the Celtics into overtime to secure a victory in Game Two and take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Finals series.
Since 2003, there have been 106 conference finals games played. In 76 of those games the team that won either led at halftime or was tied for the lead at half, a .717 winning percentage. In the last three postseasons (2010-2012), there have been 26 conference finals games (through games of May 30, 2012). The winning team has led at half or were tied for the lead in 20 of those 26 games, a .769 winning percentage.
Miami overcoming a seven-point deficit in yesterday’s game ranks as one of the best 11 halftime comebacks in the last 10 years in conference finals play. Topping the list are the Orlando Magic which overcame a 15-point halftime deficit in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Final series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Following are the teams that overcame the largest halftime deficits to win a Conference Final playoff game since 2003.
Halftime Deficit, Team, Playoff Year, Game, Opponent
15: Orlando, 2009, Game 1 vs. Cleveland
12: Detroit, 2007, Game 2 vs. Cleveland
12: Dallas, 2006, Game 6 vs. Phoenix
11: Dallas, 2003, Game 5 vs. San Antonio
9: Dallas, 2003, Game 1 vs. San Antonio
8: Orlando, 2009, Game 4 vs. Cleveland
8: L.A. Lakers, 2008, Game 1 vs. San Antonio
8: San Antonio, 2003, Game 3 vs. Dallas
7: Miami, 2011, Game 5 vs. Chicago
7: Phoenix, 2005, Game 4 vs. San Antonio
7: Miami, 2012, Game 2 vs. Boston
Note: Thirty teams have lost conference finals games since 2003 after leading at halftime. Of the teams that lost those halftime leads in the conference finals, the San Antonio Spurs lost six games when they were leading at halftime. Following are the teams that lost the most conference finals games since 2003 when they had the lead at halftime.
Games Lost When They Had Halftime Lead in Conference Finals (since 2003), Teams
6: San Antonio
3: Oklahoma City, Dallas
2: Chicago, Detroit, Indiana
1: Boston, L.A. Lakers, Denver
Did you know? In the 2010 conference finals (Boston vs. Orlando and the Lakers vs. Phoenix) the team that led at halftime won all six games in both series.
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The Celtics have been a very weird team this playoff season. For a veteran team, they’ve forgotten how to close teams out. In almost every game this year in the playoffs, they have been ahead at halftime. And they’ve gone on to loose a lot of those games. Weird and frustrating.