Over the nearly three full days of hype leading to Game 3 of an Eastern Conference first-round series between the Celtics and Knicks, you’ll be reminded often about the perils of the 0-2 deficit.
By now you know the daunting data: Only 15 teams in NBA history have come back to win a series after being down 2-0 and that 94.4 percent of home teams that win Games 1 and 2 go on to advance. You’ll be told the Celtics are, appropriately, 0-2 after losing the first two games of a series in the Kevin Garnett era (Miami eliminated Boston both times -- in seven games in the 2012 conference finals and five games in the 2011 conference semifinals).
And yet when Jeff Green was asked after Tuesday's Game 2 about the long odds facing his team and whether he was worried, he offered, "Not concerned at all."
What else would a player whose team is in an 0-2 hole say? Yes, the Celtics have put themselves in position to win twice in New York before cringeworthy second-half efforts helped the Knicks emerge. But Celtics coach Doc Rivers was a bit more blunt on the topic.
“I guess they say the series hasn’t started -- and I’ve heard this corny line a million times -- until the road team wins,” said Rivers. “I am positive the series has started because we are down 2-0.”
If Rivers is looking for a confidence boost, he can ask Jason Terry to regale his teammates with tales of the 2005 Dallas Mavericks, who rallied from an 0-2 hole to top the Houston Rockets during the first round of the playoffs that year despite losing two home games to open the series.
“We lost those first two at home and went in their building and beat them pretty good twice and ended up winning in seven games,” recalled Terry. “Again, it's a long series. You can't get too high or too low. You've just got to keep grinding and watch the film and understand what you have to do to be successful. And right now, it's playing a full 48 minutes of basketball. We haven't done that yet."
Will Terry impart lessons from that experience?
“No question,” he said. “Our veterans have been through a lot. But the young guys must understand that them winning two games at home -- good for them. Now we're going to do our job."
Boston has no choice. No team has ever rallied from a 0-3 deficit.