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1999 NBA Playoffs

Uphill battle

Knicks fighting history, not to mention Spurs

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Posted: Tuesday June 22, 1999 08:07 PM

 

By Ryan Hunt, CNN/SI

After Wednesday night's Game 1 loss, the New York Knicks undoubtedly are in a hole. If history shows anything, however, it may be deeper than they imagine.

In the last 15 NBA Finals, or more specifically since the Finals adopted the 2-3-2 format in 1985, the home team has won Game 1 11 times, including San Antonio's 89-77 win Wednesday.

Of those previous 10 wins, the home team went on to win the NBA championship eight times. In all, 71 percent of the teams that won Game 1 in the Finals went on to win the title.

That doesn't bode well for New York's chances. Then again, coming into the series, the Knicks already were at a historical disadvantage.

Home cooking
Teams with home-court advantage
in the NBA Finals since 1985
Year Team Game 1 Series
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
1990
1989
1988
1987
1986
1985
San Antonio
Utah
Chicago
Chicago
Orlando
Houston
Phoenix
Chicago
Chicago
Detroit
Detroit
L.A. Lakers
L.A. Lakers
Boston
Boston
W
W
W
W
L
W
L
W
L
W
W
L
W
W
W
??
L
W
W
L
W
L
W
W
W
W
W
W
W
L
Since adoption of 2-3-2 format
 

Since the Finals format was changed to the current 2-3-2, the team with home-court advantage has won 10 of the 14 series -- twice by Chicago (1993 and 1998) and once each by Houston (1995) and the L.A. Lakers (1985).

If the Knicks can steal Game 2, they would look to have gained the advantage. However, history says that isn't so, either.

In the 14 years of the 2-3-2 format, no team has won the three middle games of the series at home. But two road teams have gone 3-0 in its opponent's arena en route to the championship -- the Bulls in 1991 and the Pistons in 1990.

That means a Knicks comeback would likely have to return to San Antonio.

However, if the series is extended past Game 5, no team has won the final two games on the road. And only two series have been extended to the full seven games since 1985 -- the Knicks' loss to Houston in 1994 and the Lakers' win over Detroit in 1988.

So after Wednesday's Game 1 loss, the Knicks aren't only battling the Spurs, they're fighting history as well.

 
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