With history’s good angel perched comfortably on their shoulders, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have to feel pretty good about their chances of advancing to the conference finals as they enjoy 3-2 series leads.
The Celtics can close out their series tonight in Orlando against the Magic (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), while the Lakers look to advance in the second game as they visit the Houston Rockets (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
All time in best-of-sevens, the team with a 3-2 series lead is 122-102 (.545) in Game 6. Overall, the team with a 3-2 lead is 192-32 (.857) in those series.
The last team to advance after trailing a series 3-2 was the San Antonio Spurs in last year’s Playoffs. The Spurs were down to the New Orleans Hornets 3-2 in the Western Conference Semifinals before winning Game 6 at home and clinching on the road.
The Celtics are a perfect 32-0 in series in which they’ve led 3-2. Since the assemblage of the Big Three in Boston, the Celtics have posted a 2-3 record in Game 6s, going 2-2 in last season’s run to banner No. 17. Both Game 6 setbacks, however, came on the road: at Atlanta, 103-100, in the first round; and at Cleveland, 74-69, in the conference semis.
The Lakers, for their part, have had recent success in these types of situations, winning their last four “close-out” games in the playoffs, and 15 times in their last 17 opportunities dating back to 2001. Overall, under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are now 20-10 in close-out games. The Lakers have won 25 of their last 26 series when holding the opportunity to close out at any point. Their last series loss when having a close-out game came in 2006 when the Lakers squandered a 3-1 series lead against the Phoenix Suns. Prior to that, the Lakers had not lost a series when having a close-out game since the 1993 First Round vs. Phoenix in which they led 2-0 before losing the next three.