There are two ways to look at the Warriors-Clippers series that resumes tonight at Oracle Arena. Actually, there are countless ways to look at it (3D goggles! Reflected in a mirror!), but here are two:
- The series is tied at one game apiece, and the Warriors have home-field advantage over the potential remaining five games.
- Golden State just got crushed by 40 points. Forty! Mark Jackson does not have a sermon that can bring his team back from that.
Has any NBA team ever come back from a 40-point loss to win a postseason series? Why, yes indeed. But it happened in 1956, when non-final series went just three games and knickered newspaper boys took to the streets to yell, “Read all about it!”
On March 19, 1956, the Minneapolis Lakers dismantled the St. Louis Hawks 133-75 in a Western Division semifinal game, a remarkable occurrence when you consider that no Laker scored more than 19 pointsCan (though all 10 of them were in double figures). That’s a 58-point difference, the greatest in NBA postseason history.
And yet it was the Hawks who advanced to play the Fort Wayne Pistons in the Western Finals, young center Bob Pettit getting the best of star George Mikan. They did so by bracketing the bloodbath with twin 116-115 victories over Minneapolis. In other words, St. Louis won a series while being outscored by a cumulative 56 points. Try re-creating that one.
I’m not sure any other NBA team has recovered from a 40-point playoff loss to win a series, though. The 10 most lopsided NBA postseason games include results with margins of 43 or more points. Did a team even bounce back from a 40-, 41- or 42-point drubbing? Alas, I can’t tell you. I started going back in time via basketball-reference.com records, but realized I’d still be scrolling through the fifties by the time the Warriors flew to L.A. for Game 5. Sorry.
Perhaps there is a recent precedent, though, and you don’t need a Wayback Machine to find it. In last year’s NBA Finals, the Spurs murdered the Heat 113-77 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead. It couldn’t save them from the stalking menace of LeBron James, who led Miami back to a championship over seven games.
If the Heat can put a 36-point loss behind them, maybe the Warriors can survive a 40-pointer. And maybe Steph Curry will one day be equated with LeBron.