The Miami Heat staved off elimination from the NBA Finals with an impressive effort against the Los Angles Lakers on Friday night.
In narrowing their series deficit to 3-2, the Heat took the first step in what is surely a difficult task of coming back from a 3-1 hole against the mighty Lakers, led by four-time league MVP LeBron James and superstar big man Anthony Davis.
But just how difficult is it?
The overall history isn't very encouraging for Miami -- though there are a few recent cases on which they could hang their hats.
Since 2015, only five teams have rallied to win a playoff series after dropping three of the first four games. Those teams are:
- 2015 Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers
- 2016 Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
- 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors
- 2020 Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz
- 2020 Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Among the countless surprises and upsets seen in the NBA bubble, the Nuggets' historic run and the ouster of the mighty Milwaukee Bucks at the hand of these very Heat rank among the most notable.
The Lakers ultimately quashed the Nuggets insurgency, so maybe the lesson of Denver's run is that lightening strikes twice but not three times.
The Lakers, for their part, endured two skids of three or more games in 2019-20. They dropped four in a row in the regular season in December, and lost three consecutive games in the bubble in August.
The Heat and superstar Jimmy Butler first put their stamp on the 2020 postseason by disposing of a Bucks team that at one point in the regular season was on pace to set a new mark for best record ever.
Could lightening strike twice against a juggernaut for the underdog Heat, this time against LeBron and AD?
The King is no stranger to postseason disappointment, not necessarily of his own doing.
He and Davis have looked overwhelming at times in the Lakers' victories, but they seem to struggle to get significant contributions from third and fourth options in tighter ballgames.
Davis faded down the stretch in the Game 5 nail-biter, apparently nursing a balky ankle. If he's hobbled for Game 6 and a potential finale, James will have to pick up some slack.
It'd be foolish to doubt James, the seemingly ageless living legend, but it'd be equally silly to discount a Heat team that is giving James and Davis all they can handle even without the services of injured starting point guard Goran Dragic.
Dragic warmed up with his teammates before sitting Game 5 with a bum knee. It remained unclear if he could partake in Game 6, and at what capacity if so. But any meaningful contribution from their floor general can only help the Heat's odds of forcing a Game 7 showdown, a scenario James and Davis surely want to avoid.