The Oklahoma City Thunder haven't been without opportunities over the past few games, but the Miami Heat have been able to close games and take a 3-1 advantage in the seven-game series. The odds of beating the Heat aren't good with that deficit according to history, either -- especially in the NBA Finals.
There are obviously quite a few factors that need to be weighed when deciding the exact odds of a Thunder comeback and, luckily, there are smarter people out there than yours truly that have already done that research. The always excellent Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference.com wrote on the topic for ESPN earlier this year, concluding that it's at best going to be an uphill battle.
In situations like this, the coaching cliché is to take things "one game at a time," and that's actually pretty good advice. Historically, teams in a 3-1 hole have come back to win the series just eight times in 186 chances, a rate of 4.3 percent. In fact, just battling valiantly and forcing a sixth game is a big step -- teams down 3-1 have made it to Game 6 just 38.5 percent of the time since 1956. And there's certainly pride in merely living to fight another day.
Worse yet for the Thunder is that, thanks to the Finals 2-3-2 format, they'll have to attempt to force a sixth game away from the friendly confines of home. The odds of that happening historically, according to Paine, are even worse.
Historically, teams facing a 3-1 hole on the road have forced a sixth game just 29 times in 125 chances (23 percent). The simple knowledge that they must play Game 5 away from home implies just a 5-6 percent chance that both teams' seasons survive another night.
Oklahoma City's already beat the odds once when they showed enough resiliency to beat the San Antonio Spurs earlier this postseason, but can lightning really strike twice for the Thunder? We'll find out Thursday night!
For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For Thunder news and notes, visit Welcome To Loud City. And for news, analysis and everything else revolving around the NBA Playoffs, be sure to visit SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.