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What Happens When George Karl Goes Down 0-1

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm •  Published: April 18, 2011

This is George Karl’s 20th appearance as a coach in the NBA playoffs.

He’s taken five teams this far.

But the Denver skipper isn’t so successful when staring at an 0-1 hole.

Karl-coached teams are 2-13 when losing the first game of a series.

The Thunder currently has a 1-0 lead on Karl’s Denver Nuggets. Game 2 is Wednesday night inside Oklahoma City Arena.

Karl hasn’t coached a team out of an 0-1 hole since the 1997 playoffs, when his Seattle SuperSonics defeated Phoenix in three of the next four games to take the best-of-five series. Karl’s only other climb out of an 0-1 deficit came in 1987, when his Golden State squad staved off elimination against Utah by winning three straight after falling down 0-2.

Karl teams are 0-4 in their attempts to recover from an 0-1 deficit since the NBA went to a best-of-seven series in the first round in 2003.

What does this all mean? Nothing if you aren’t a believer in history repeating itself. But there are some who believe Karl simply isn’t a great playoff coach. And the numbers appear to certainly back their claims.

SEASON                TEAM                    OPPONENT                  ROUND                        RESULT
1984-85                  Cleveland                Boston                               First round                   Lost, 3-1
1986-87                  Golden State          Utah                                   First round                   Won, 3-2
1986-87                  Golden State         L.A. Lakers                      Conference Semis       Lost, 4-1
1991-92                  Seattle                      Utah                                   Conference Semis       Lost, 4-1
1992-93                  Seattle                     Phoenix                             Conference Finals      Lost, 4-3
1995-96                  Seattle                     Chicago                              NBA Finals                    Lost, 4-2
1996-97                  Seattle                     Phoenix                             First round                   Won, 3-2
1996-97                  Seattle                     Houston                            Conference Semis       Lost, 4-3
1998-99                  Milwaukee             Indiana                              First round                    Lost, 0-3
1999-00                 Milwaukee             Indiana                              First round                     Lost, 3-2
2000-01                Milwaukee              Philadelphia                    Conference Finals       Lost, 4-3
2002-03                Milwaukee              New Jersey                      First round                     Lost, 4-2
2005-06                Denver                     L.A. Clippers                   First round                     Lost, 4-1
2007-08                Denver                    L.A. Lakers                       First round                     Lost, 4-0
2008-09                Denver                     L.A. Lakers                      Conference Finals        Lost, 4-2
2010-11                 Denver                     Oklahoma City First round                     ??????????


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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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