The Cleveland Cavaliers have done the nearly impossible. They have raised themselves from a 2-0 Finals hole, something rarely done. Even rarer, they’ve now forced a Game 7 after being down 3-1. Three teams won the title after being down 2-0 in a series, but none have secured the championship after falling into a 1-3 hole.

The only two teams to even force a Game 7 in that latter circumstance are the 1951 New York Knicks and the 1966 Los Angeles Lakers.

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Here, we’ll take a look at those two comebacks and particularly the Game 7s that broke hearts.

1951 NBA Finals

The Knicks were were actually down 3-0 in this series against the Rochester Royals. Led by Bob Davies, Bob Wanzer and especially Arnie Risen, the Royals manhandled the Knicks to start the series. The scores were grim, but they also got progressively closer: 92-65, 99-84, 78-71.

Then the comeback began. Harry Gallatin proved nearly Risen’s equal in Game 4, scoring 22 points to his fellow Hall of Famer’s 26. The Knicks won 79-73. Game 5 was Connie Simmons and Max Zaslofsky’s show for the Knicks, as they combined for 50 points on 17-for-30 shooting in a 92-89 victory. Zaslofsky then dropped 23 in Game 6, an 80-73 victory. The Knicks had staved off elimination three times.

Now it was time for Game 7 in Rochester. Having blown a 3-0 series lead, the Royals were on the verge of the most embarrassing collapse possible in sports. Luckily for Rochester, Risen came out to ball, as did unheralded jack-of-all-trades forward Jack Coleman. Risen drubbed the Knicks for 24 points and 13 rebounds while Coleman had nine points, nine assists, and seven rebounds.

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New York, despite 16 points from Zaslofsky, couldn’t quite overcome the Rochester attack and lost the Game 7 by a final score of 79-75. You can imagine how happy small-town Rochester was in beating in-state big-city rival New York.

For the Royals franchise that would become the Cincinnati Royals, Kansas City-Omaha Kings and now Sacramento Kings, it would be their second and final championship (their first coming in 1946 in the old National Basketball League). Indeed, this would be their last Finals appearance as of this writing in franchise history, as the Minneapolis Lakers resumed dominance of pro basketball the next year. For the Knicks, this would be their first of three consecutive Finals losses. Their 1952 and 1953 heartbreaks would come at the hands of the Lakers.

George Mikan was out there ruining hopes and dreams, man.

1966 NBA Finals

Speaking of ruining hopes and dreams, we have Bill Russell’s Celtics. Previously, I’ve written about Boston’s great escapes, but this series wasn’t included. Well let me tell you, it was perhaps Boston’s greatest escape as far embarrassment was concerned. The Celtics not only lost a 3-1 series lead, but in the Game 7, they almost blew a double-digit fourth quarter led on their home court.

The dramatic series started off right with a classic Game 1. Jerry West had 41 points, Elgin Baylor added 36 and 20 rebounds and the Lakers still needed overtime to win 133-129. But Boston handily dismissed the Lakers in Games 2 and 3 with double-digit wins in both games — 129-109, then 120-106.

Game 4 brought a little competitiveness back into the series as West plastered Boston with 45 points and 10 assists and Baylor contributed 24 points and 12 rebounds. In the end, though, the Celtics were not to be denied behind John Havlicek’s 32 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, as they won the game 122-117.

In Games 5 and 6, Baylor and West would not be eliminated. Baylor, who had broken his kneecap in the previous year’s playoffs, had 41 points and 16 rebounds in a 121-1

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17 Game 5 victory — despite Russell’s 32 and 28 — while West’s 32 points led a balanced 123-115 Game 6 win.

With the series back in Boston, the Lakers yet to beat the Celtics in a series and the previous seven NBA championships in their back pocket, the Celtics seemed to be headed toward a mere formality in Game 7. Indeed, the Celtics smoked LA and were up by 16 points entering the fourth quarter. Even in the game’s final minute, Boston was up 95-85.

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But the Lakers stormed back behind Mr. Clutch and made Red Auerbach nearly gag on his victory cigar.

West nailed a jumper. Stole the ball from Russell and then hit another jumper. K.C. Jones charged into Mahdi Abdul-Rahman (then Walt Hazzard) for another turnover. Laker guard Jim King hit a reverse layup. And then Jerry West forced yet another turnover on Sam Jones. And just like that with, about 6 seconds left the Lakers were down four. On the next inbounds play LeRoy Ellis quickly hit a jumper. Lakers down two.

With four seconds left, no three-point line, and Boston’s stunningly sloppy play, the Lakers gambled for yet another steal, but couldn’t get their hands on the ball. The Celtics were able to hold on for the ragged win, 95-93. But a win’s a win and Boston had their eighth straight title.

If history is any indication, the Cavaliers will make a furious and hard-fought Game 7, but ultimately lose in the end. But if history were the only indication, Cleveland coming back from 2-0 and 3-1 in the series is already an extreme outlier that shouldn't have happened. Perhaps this is finally the time for a team to win the title after being down 3-1 in the series.