May 22, 2023 - Sports

Down 3-0, Celtics and Lakers need miracles

Photos: Megan Briggs/Getty Images; Wally Skalij /L.A. Times via Getty Images

The National Basketball Association's two winningest franchises are technically still alive in the playoffs. But if history is any indication, they're already dead.

State of play: The Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 119-108, on Saturday to take a 3-0 lead in the West finals. The Miami Heat embarrassed the Boston Celtics, 128-102, on Sunday to go up 3-0 in the East finals.

By the numbers: NBA teams are 0-149 all-time when trailing a series 3-0.

Looking ahead: There have been 16 sweeps in conference finals history, but never two in the same postseason. If Denver wins tonight and Miami wins tomorrow, we'll have a whopping eight days off before the NBA Finals (June 1).

  • That's a nightmare scenario for the NBA and its TV partners, who would miss out on some of the most lucrative broadcasts of the season. (For reference: Disney and Turner raked in $842.4 million in sales revenue during the 2022 NBA postseason, per
  • Sweeps are also costly for teams, who make millions per home playoff game on tickets, concessions and parking. Perhaps that will serve as motivation for the lethargic-looking Celtics as they try to send the series back to Boston: Do it for the billionaire owners!

The bottom line: The two teams with the most NBA Finals appearances in history will need to pull off miracles to get back there.

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