By The Numbers: Where I'm Tellin You There's A Chance.

Above is a picture of me standing in the "I think they've still got a shot" room.

There is a famous scene from the American cult classic "Dumb and Dumber" that inspired this piece.

Llyod, played by Jim Carrey, is talking to Mary, played by Lauren Holly about his chances of dating her:

Lloyd: The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?
Mary: Not good.
Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
Mary: I'd say more like one out of a million.
[pause]
Lloyd: So you're telling me there's a chance... *YEAH!*

When I started thinking about the odds of the Celtics finishing this series winning four games out of the next five, this quote just popped randomly into my head, and it's really the way I've always felt about this Celtics team, ever since Kevin Garnett was injured in 08-09, I've thought to myself, as everyone told me the Celtics won't win, "Yeah, they probably won't...but they might."

And nothing personifies that kind of irrationality more than hopefulness right now. I've said since these playoffs started that I had no idea how they would go, that I was just along for the ride, wherever it goes. Well, the ride hasn't stopped .

But then I starting wondering, 'How often does it actually happen? How often does a team come back from starting out down 0-2 to win a playoff series?'

Well if you've been wondering the same thing, have no fear because I've got answers. I went to basketball-reference.com and went back through all 75 playoff series from 2006-2010 to find those that started out 2-0 on one side or the other, and I found out just what the odds are that the Celtics will win each of the next 5 possible games, and the odds that they'll take the series.

For a breakdown and direct link to the Dumb & Dumber video, click the jump.


Question 1: If the Celtics were any other NBA team that started out 0-2, what are the chances they win Game 3? The Series?

Game 3: 63%, The Series: 9%

Over the past five NBA Playoffs, 63% of the time the team down 0-2 wins game 3. Now, 63% is pretty good odds. That much at least, is encouraging, because no NBA team has EVER come back from being down 0-3 to win a seven game series.

Question 2: If the Celtics were any NBA home team that started out 0-2, what are the chances they win Game 3? The Series?

Game: 62%, Series: 5.3% - from WhoWins.com

This number is a little surprising. Since it would be a TON more work to figure out how the home team did in Game 3's while down 2-0, I luckily was referred to just such a database by Truehoop.com. This database looks at the entirety of the NBA's history with 7 game series, and since the NBA has a lot more parity now than they have had previous, I'm not shocked to see that number (62%) mostly the same, but a little different. Still, 62% is a pretty solid win % for Game 3, so I'll take it.

Question 3: How have past Celtics teams done when down 0-2?

Game 3: 57%, Series: 12.5%

The Celtics have only started out down 0-2 in a 7 game series just eight times in the team's history, and it's a bit of a mixed bag. The Celtics have had a few times in team history (3 exactly) where they were swept out of a 7 game series, but they've have more time where they managed at least 1 win. However, the Celtics have managed to turn that 0-2 frown upside down just once, in 1969, in the NBA Finals against the Lakers (SCHWING!). That gives the Green a 1 in 8 rate of success when being down 0-2, and them's better than House Odds.

Question 4: IF the Celtics can win Game 3, do their odds improve? By how much? What IF they take both home games?

Yes, IF the Celtics can win Game 3, their odds improve considerably, but not to a point where one can really get too excited in public or start talking trash (but that wouldn't stop the forums). IF the Celtics can win Game 3, based on the last 5 years of Playoff Series,

If a team loses Game 3 after being down 0-2, not only is there a 100% chance (based on past NBA Playoff Series) that they will lose a 4th game in the next 4 tries, there is also an 50% chance that they will not make it past Game 4.

If a team wins in Game 3, there is a 48% chance that they will also win Game 4, and a 63% chance that they will win one of Game 4 or 5. On top of that, the odds of winning the series jumps up from 9% to 14.8%.

IF the Celtics can take both home games coming up, than the odds jump even more. IF they can win Games 3 and 4, than there is a 61.5% chance (based on the NBA's last 5 years, again) that they will be able to win a 3rd game and force a Game 7, or even win a 4th game and the series.

So there you have it. Them's be the odds. 9%, 12.5%, 14.8%...take whatever kind of solace you can from them. And if you find those odds depressing, than I invited you to pay some attention to this guy:

Sure, he's just a limo driver. But, aren't we all 'just' limo drivers, in our hearts? Killer boots, man.

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