With their Game Six win over Houston, the Golden State Warriors forced a Game Seven in the Western Conference Finals. By doing so, for the first time in almost 40 years we have both conference finals series going to a decisive Game Seven.
The last time both conference finals series went to a seventh game was in 1979 when the Seattle Supersonics beat the Phoenix Suns in Game Seven to advance to the ’79 NBA Finals and the Washington Bullets won Game Seven over the San Antonio Spurs to reach the finals that same year. The only other time both conference finals went to a seventh game was in 1963.
For the Celtics and Rockets this year, they have history on their side when it comes to conference finals Game Seven; the home team has won Game Seven of the conference finals 26 of the 33 times. The good news for the Warriors and Cavs is that there have been seven times when an away team has won Game Seven of conference finals. Those seven times:
1973: New York Knicks
2002: Los Angeles Lakers
As you might expect, the Boston Celtics have had the most Game Seven wins in the conference finals (also called the division finals at one time). The Celts have won seven Game Sevens in conference/division finals. The Lakers are second in this category with five such wins.
On the flip side, the Indiana Pacers have lost the most conference/division finals Game Sevens with four. They are followed by the Celtics, Philadelphia76ers and St. Louis Hawks with three each.
One final stat: The 33 teams that have won a conference/division finals by winning Game Seven have only gone on to win the NBA Finals that year 16 times. Fatigue factor?
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The Boston Red Sox are one win away from winning the 2013 World Series. They won last night 3-1 and now go back home to try to end the series in front of their hometown fans. The series continues on Wednesday night.
So, can the Cardinals win two games on the road to steal the series from the BoSox? Or, are the Red Sox about ready to celebrate? Let’s try to put some numbers to the crystal ball. The Red Sox and Cardinals were tied at 2-2 after four games. It was the 21st time since 1960 that the World Series was tied at two games apiece. So how did the previous 20 series end after Game 5?
In the previous 20 series tied at 2-2, five ended with the team winning Game 5 and Game 6. In seven of the series, the team that won Game 5, lost Game 6, but won Game 7 to clinch the series. In eight of the series, the team that lost Game 5 went on to win Games 6 and 7 to win the World Series. Bottom line: The team that won Game 5 after the series was tied at 2-2 won the World Series 12 times and lost eight. While this bottom line stat favors the Red Sox, the most frequent scenario in the past 20 series tied at 2-2 was that the team that lost Game 5 won the next two games and the series (that happened eight times of the 20).
But let’s dig a little deeper and look at what has happened since 1990. There were seven World series since 1990 where the two teams were tied at two games apiece going into Game 5. Four times (1991, 2001, 2002 and 2011) the team that lost Game 5 went on to win the next two games and the series. Twice (1996 and 2003) the team that won Game 5 also won Game 6 and won the World Series. The only time since 1990 that the team that won Game 5, lost Game 6 and then came back to win Game 7 was in 1997.
The above stat seems to favor the possibility of the Cardinals coming back to win Games 6 and 7. One problem… In those four games above where the team that lost Game 5 went on to win Games 6 and 7 to clinch the world championship, the team that won Game 5 was the home team. The Cards were the home team last night and lost Game 5. In the two cases where the road team won Game 5 in a World Series tied 2-2 since 1990, both times the away team that won Game 5 (which the Red Sox were last night) went on to win the World Series (once the series went six games; the other time the road team won Game 6 but the home team rebounded with a Game 7 victory).
That’s a lot of numbers and scenarios. Is it possible for the Cardinals to win two games on the road to win the series? There is a glimmer of hope because it has been done before. The last time it happened was in 1979 when the Pittsburgh Pirates, down 3-2 in the World Series, had to win Games 6 and 7 in the Baltimore Orioles ballpark to win the championship. They won Game 6 by a score of 4-0 and won Game 7 and the World Series with a 4-1 win in the finale.
Can the Cardinals take a piece of history and repeat the Pirates 1979 World Series comeback?
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers will square off in Boston Saturday in Game Seven of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. This will be the seventh Game Seven the Celtics have played in the last eight years. This will be Philadelphia’s first Game Seven since the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals when they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks to advance to the NBA Finals. The 76ers did play a decisive Game Five in 2002 in a five-game first-round series against the Celtics. The Celtics won that contest.
Here’s a look at the last 21 Game Sevens (since 2005) and a handful of statistics that may determine who wins Saturday’s game.
1. Points: In the past 21 Game Sevens, the winning team has averaged 98.5 ppg while the losing team has averaged only 82.9 Teams that have scored 100 or more points have won eight and lost two. Teams that score 90 or more points are 15-7; teams that score 80 or more points are 20-11. The winning team has given up 90 or more points in only seven of the 21 Game Sevens.
2. Point Differential: None of the last 21 Game Seven have been decided by three or fewer points. Eight of the games were decided by four to nine points. Teams won by 10 or more points in seven of the games; teams won by 20 or more points in six of the Game Sevens.
3. Home Team: The home team won 14 of the last 21 Game Sevens, including seven of the last eight. The last away team to win a Game Seven: This year when the Clippers defeated Memphis in the first round of the playoffs.
4. Game Six: There doesn’t seem to be an advantage for the team that wins Game Six. The team that won Game Six only won eight of the last 21 Game Sevens.
5. Leads at the end of the quarter: The team that leads at the end of the first quarter won 18 of the 21 games. The team leading at halftime won 19 of 21. The team leading going into the fourth quarter won 17 of 20 (there was one tie at the end of the third quarter).
6. 20-Point Scorers: The team that won Game Seven had at least one player score 20 or more points in 20 of the 21 games. The losing team had a 20-point scorer in 14 of the 21 games. The Game Seven winning team had two 20-point scorers in 10 of the 21 games; the losing team had a pair of 20-point scorers in five games.
7. Turnovers: Committing fewer turnovers was not a significant stat in the last 21 Game Sevens. The winning team had fewer turnovers in only nine of the 21 games.
8. Shooting Percentage: The winning team had a higher field goal percentage in 16 of 20 games (in one game both teams had the same percentage). In 19 of the 21 games, the winning team made a higher percentage of three-point shots made than their opponents.
9. Rebounds: The Game Seven winning team had more rebounds than the losing team in 15 of 19 contests (in two games the teams had the same number of rebounds).
10. Game Seven Appearances: The Boston Celtics have played in six of the last 21 Game Sevens, tops in that category. The Celtics are 3-3 in those games. The Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets have each played in four Game Sevens since 2005. The Lakers won three of those four games; the Rockets lost all four of their Game Sevens since ’05. Detroit, San Antonio and Atlanta have each played in three Game Sevens since 2005.
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