Number crunch: How big is Game 1?

May, 1, 2011
5/01/11
9:42
AM ET
It'd be foolish to dub Game 1 a "must win" for any team. But history suggests the Miami Heat would be well served to prevent the Boston Celtics from stealing Sunday's opening tilt of an Eastern Conference semifinal series.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Celtics have won 51 of the 56 best-of-seven series they have taken Game 1 of, an astounding 91.1 percent success rate that is the highest such percentage for any franchise in NBA history with more than one such series.

Zoom in on the Big Three era and Boston is a spotless 7-0 in series in which they've won the first game, compared to a mere 2-2 when they've dropped Game 1 (though one of those series victories came last season after a Game 1 loss to LeBron James and the Cavaliers).

How much will home-court advantage aid the Heat, a perk they received in large part because of a late-season victory that allowed Miami to snag the No. 2 seed. According to Elias, it's not much of a benefit. Since the current playoff format began with the 1984 playoffs, the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds in the same conference have clashed 35 times in the conference semifinals and 20 times (57 percent) the No. 3 seed won the series.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9