Odds and ends: Opportunity knocks


A quick look at what past playoff series tell us about the importance of Sunday's Game 4 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks, with help from our friends at ESPN Stats and Info:

* Teams with a 2-1 series advantage have won 82.1 percent (266-58) of those best-of-seven series since the playoffs went to 16-team format during the 1983-84 season.

* If Boston were to open a 3-1 series lead, past teams in that position have won 96 percent (194-8) of those series. Only twice has a team rallied from a 3-1 hole in the opening round of the playoffs (2003 Pistons vs. Magic, 2006 Suns vs. Lakers).

* If Atlanta were to tie the series at 2 games apiece, the winner of Game 5 has gone on to prevail in the series 83.3 percent (135-27) of the time. Atlanta would own a distinct advantage in hosting both Games 5 and 7. The home team in Game 5 of a tied series has won 76.5 percent (124-38) of those games.

The Celtics, of course, have rarely made their lives easy this season. A win in Sunday's Game 4 at TD Garden, however, would put them firmly in the driver's seat towards the conference semifinals.