Could either the Knicks or Thunder be first NBA team to surrender 3-0 series lead?
The pressure is slowly shifting in two of the NBA Playoffs opening round series, with the New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder in danger of surrendering 3-0 leads against the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets respectively.
Although still in control considering their one game advantages, both have lost the last two clashes and are on the road for Game 6 which could conceivably force a deciding game at home in both scenarios.
The Knicks appeared to have been coasting against a Celtics team struggling to get their offensive game going, and offering no threat in the second half of games.
Critics had suggested that this Celtics team were reaching the end, and that they would be sent crashing out with the futures of the likes of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in jeopardy. However, if this is to be the last stand from two legends in the city, they aren’t going without a fight.
The imminent threat of suffering an early elimination has spurred Doc Rivers’ men into action and they have rallied to secure back-to-back victories which has partially put some of the pressure on opposite number Mike Woodson.
Even the return of Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith, who missed Game 4 through suspension, wasn’t enough to seal the series-clinching win in the Big Apple on Thursday night, and now the Knicks must face a hostile reception at the TD Garden again.
Over in the West, the Thunder have struggled to stop the Houston Rockets who appear to be finding their range from beyond the arc and are scoring heavily in each game.
Despite the best efforts of Kevin Durant, who has taken further control of the team in the absence of the injured Russell Westbrook, coach Scott Brooks is all too aware of the need to improve on the defensive end.
James Harden continues to haunt his old team, and the Rockets have both the belief and momentum ahead of Game 6 of being able to take this series the distance.
Even their losses in this series have been close, with just three points separating the pair on two occasions. Without the services of their starting point guard, the Thunder have failed to provide a consistent second scoring option. Regardless of the fact that Durant has the ability to take on any team, to single handedly lead them all the way may be asking too much of the star.
No team has ever overturned a 3-0 series deficit in the NBA Playoffs, but both the Celtics and Rockets are just starting to believe in the impossible, with the next instalments of the potential comebacks taking place on Friday night.