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What history says about Celtics' 2-0 lead over Mavericks in NBA Finals

Did Mavericks miss their best shot to beat Celtics in NBA Finals? Leon Powe breaks down Game 2
Did Mavericks miss their best shot to beat Celtics in NBA Finals? Leon Powe breaks down Game 2 06:45

BOSTON -- The Celtics are sitting pretty in the NBA Finals, up 2-0 on the Mavericks and just two wins away from a championship. History is very much on Boston's side as the series shifts to Dallas.

Of course, the series is far from over. The Celtics took care of business at home, but the saying goes that it isn't really a series until a road team wins a game. The Celtics will look to do just that -- and improve to 7-0 away from the TD Garden this postseason -- when Game 3 tips off in Dallas on Wednesday night.

The Celtics have history on their side, and it's fairly overwhelming in their favor. Of the 36 previous teams to go up 2-0 in the NBA Finals, 31 of them went on to win a title. The Celtics and the Mavericks have been on both sides that NBA history, with the 1968-69 Celtics coming back from down 0-2 beat the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games and the 2005-06 Mavericks blowing a 2-0 Finals lead to the Miami Heat to lose the series.

Two players involved in this NBA Finals series have been part of teams that overcame an 0-2 Finals hole: Boston's Jrue Holiday and Dallas' Kyrie Irving. 

Holiday's Milwaukee Bucks came back from being down 0-2 to the Phoenix Suns in the 2020-21 NBA Finals and won the series in six games. Irving's Cleveland Cavaliers did it to the Golden State Warriors during the 2015-16 season, with Irving hitting a clutch three in the final minute of Game 7 to lift the Cavaliers to a title and stun the 73-win Warriors.

Irving has struggled against the Celtics this series, averaging just 14 points off 13-for-37 shooting (including 0-for-8 from three-point range) over the first two games in Boston. But he struggled to start the NBA Finals in 2016 before finishing strong, and will be drawing off that experience going forward.

"I have a little experience in this. Didn't play particularly well in the first two games in that series [in 2016], too," Irving said after Dallas' Game 2 loss at TD Garden. "So now I'm just really leaning in on what I've experienced, what I've learned and some of the lessons I've been able to make sense of in how to come back in this series. Because it is going to be a possession-by-possession thing, and it's going to be the hardest thing that we've ever done."

Holiday said that he's feeling a lot more comfortable in his second NBA Finals, especially with his team being up 2-0. But the veteran guard knows that just getting the first two wins of the series doesn't mean anything.

"I think being on this team, the journey to this point has been great, but we still know being up 2-0 means nothing," he said. "Job's not done. We have to do whatever it takes."

The Celtics historically are 43-1 when taking a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series. The only time the Celtics lost after winning the first two games came back in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals, when Jayson Tatum was a rookie and Jaylen Brown was in his second NBA season.

But the Celtics still cannot take their 2-0 lead for granted. Boston was up 2-1 in the NBA Finals two years ago, before the Warriors ripped off three straight wins. This team is a lot different from the Celtics squad that lost in the Finals in 2022, but they should still treat Wednesday night's Game 3 as a must-win. 

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