In the history of the NBA Playoffs, only eight out of 210 teams have won a best-of-7 playoff series in which they trailed 3-1.
That's a success rate of 3.8 percent.
If that weren't depressing enough for OKC Thunder fans, only twice has a No. 5 seed eliminated a No. 1 seed since the playoff format expanded in 1984 — Phoenix over the Los Angeles Lakers in 1990; Indiana over Atlanta in 1994. The No. 1-seeded Thunder trails the No. 5-seeded Memphis Grizzlies 3-1 heading into Game 5 on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
As you can see, history is not in OKC's favor.
“This is obviously not the greatest position to be in, but we still have a chance to be a part of history,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Tuesday. “There's not a lot of teams that have come back from 3-1, but we have the talent, we have the teamwork, we have the effort and the energy to do it.”
Six of the eight teams to successfully come back from a 3-1 deficit owned the homecourt advantage. OKC can't recapture homecourt until it wins Game 6 at FedExForum in Memphis — if there is a Game 6. Understandably, none of these eight success stories was missing a three-time All-Star while making their notable comeback.
The Thunder is missing a significant someone in dynamic point guard Russell Westbrook, an All-NBA first-team candidate who underwent season-ending knee surgery on April 27.
The closest anyone ever was to Thunder's current predicament? The Lakers, when Hall of Fame center Wilt Chamberlain suffered a knee injury in the ninth game of the 1969-70 regular season, but returned in time for the playoffs to average 22.1 points, 22.2 rebounds and 47.3 minutes per game.
“We're going to fight. We're going to keep fighting, keep competing,” Brooks said. “All we're worrying about is winning one game. It (The Peake) is a great place to play. Hopefully the energy in our crowd can get us over that hump.” If OKC wins Game 5, there will be a Game 6 on Friday night in Memphis at either 6 or 7 p.m.
If the Thunder wins Game 6, there will be a Game 7 on Sunday at The Peake at a time to be determined.
But Game 7 is a million miles away for OKC, which has lost three straight to Memphis after winning Game 1.
Lose to the Grizzlies one more time and the Thunder's once-promising encore as Western Conference champion will come to an abrupt halt.
“Two things I've always known about our team is that it's never easy and we never quit,” Brooks said, “and I expect that same effort that we've had all four (previous) games to be the same (Wednesday) night.”