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Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Probability & statistics: Game 5

By Chris Forsberg

Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesCan the Magic keep their season alive again in Game 5?
A quick glance at the historical numbers and patterns before the Boston visit the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night at Amway Arena:

* In NBA history, teams with a 3-1 lead in best-of-seven series have gone on to win that series 95.8 percent of the time. Only eight teams have come back from a 3-1 hole, but none (0-93) have come back from the 3-0 hole the Magic previously faced.

* The Celtics are a mere 2-7 in first-chance closeout games during the the Big Three era. The more encouraging news is that Boston is 5-1 in second-chance closeout games, the lone loss coming in Game 7 of last year’s conference semifinal against the Magic.

* The Magic became only the third team in NBA history to win Game 4 on the road after trailing 3-0 in a best-of-seven series. The two previous teams -- the 2005 Suns and 1969 76ers -- both got eliminated on their home turf in Game 5.

* If Orlando prevails in Game 5, it would become only the 10th team in NBA history to force a Game 6 after dropping the first three games of a best-of-seven series (out of the 94 teams that have faced that situation). The Magic would be the first team since the 2007 Bulls forced a Game 6 against the Pistons in that year’s conference semifinals.

* History suggests the Celtics are primed to win Game 5. After leading a best-of-seven series 3-0, the Celtics have swept four times and won in five games seven other times. No series has ever advanced to a Game 6.