Three overtime outcomes in four playoff games puts the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors on a pretty crazy pace, but it’s not the record for bonus time in an NBA postseason series.
In 2009 the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls met in a first-round series that should have left both teams unwilling and unable to advance to the next round due to the beginning symptoms of rigor mortis.
Seven games. Four made it to overtime, including a double session and a triple OT. That’s an average of one overtime period per game.
Strangest of all, Boston won Game 7 without much drama at all, 109-99. The Bulls, seeded seventh in the Eastern Conference after a 41-41 regular season, simply ran out of gas. They scored 11 points in the second quarter. Can’t blame them. At that point lacing up sneakers was a chore.
Asked immediately afterward if it was the greatest playoff series ever, Boston coach Doc Rivers said “I didn’t see great. I just saw hard.”
In 2014 Oklahoma City and Memphis matched the record of four overtime games in an NBA series. That series gets bonus points, too, for having four OT games in a row, though none of them went more than one extra period. The Bulls and Celtics of 2009 have the edge in total bonus time.
It would be fun if Miami’s Luol Deng had played in that 2009 series for the Bulls but a broken tibia had him down for the count. There are some other intriguing ties, however, between Miami’s ongoing struggle with Toronto and the events of even postseasons ago.
Zooming in on the Celtics and Bulls, each team earned a split on the road to open the series 2-2. (Boston had home-court advantage, as Toronto does now, and the Bulls couldn’t get another win at TD Garden).
Zooming out to view the rest of the East, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were on an intimidating roll in 2009. They swept Detroit and Atlanta, just like this year, and had more than a week to rest before the conference finals, again familiar. (Orlando wound up knocking off the Cavs just the same, which proves once more that anything can still happen).
No real conclusions to draw from any of this, except that the Heat and Raptors seem bound for a second consecutive seven-game playoff series each. The sloppiness in play reflects that, with only one example of a team reaching 100 points so far in the series in spite of all the overtimes. That was the Heat’s 102-96 win in Game 1.
One more example. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Miami’s 1-for-15 success rate from three-point range is so rare for a winning team that it’s only happened one other time in the last four postseasons. Memphis also hit just one three-pointer in a first-round closeout win over Portland last year.
Dwyane Wade may be fit enough to handle all this physical and psychological stress, but the rest of us are flagging, and there’s still a best 2-out-of-3 finale to go.
At this point, I’m rooting for a record number of overtime games. At this point, nothing less can draw America’s attention away from Steph Curry for more than a few seconds.