In 2004, Boston sports fans enjoyed the greatest playoff comeback in sports history, as the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 ALCS deficit to defeat the Yankees en route to their first World Series Championship since 1918.
It was hard not to root for the Sox back then. But since 2004, knowing Boston sports fans as I do, it’s been hard not to root against Boston and its insufferable, hipster-strewn “nation” of followers.
While I didn’t care enough earlier this month to actively root against the Boston Bruins as they somehow blew a 3-0 playoff series lead after frittering away a 3-0 Game 7 advantage against Philly, I must admit recent developments in the Orlando-Celtics NBA Eastern Conference Finals have me intrigued.
Consider these comparisons between the 2004 Yankees-Red Sox ALCS and the 2010 series between the Magic and Celtics.
In Game 3 of the Yankees-Red Sox 2004 ALCS, New York took a commanding 3-0 series lead after embarrassing the Red Sox 19-8 in Boston.
In Game 3 of the Magic-Celtics series, Boston took a commanding 3-0 series lead after embarrassing the Magic 94-71 in Boston.
In Game 4 of the Yankees-Red Sox 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox came from behind to stave off series elimination by winning in extra innings, 6-4.
In Game 4 of the Magic-Celtics series, the Magic came from behind to stave off series elimination by winning in overtime 96-92.
And of course, before the Yankees blew the 3-0 ALCS lead in 2004, an MLB team had never come back from such a deficit. Likewise, the NBA has never seen a similar postseason reversal in its history to this point.
As the collapse of the Yankees against Boston seemed impossible, so did the collapse of Boston against the Flyers. An Orlando comeback from 3-0 down in the series seems equally improbable, but if the Magic can win Game 5 tomorrow night at home, then whispers of a back-to-back Boston collapse will grow louder. By Friday, thanks to context provided by the lack of NBA playoff precedent, the Bruins and the 2004 ALCS, it’ll be full-blown sports radio talk show fodder.
Could that put more pressure on the Celtics? If virtually any other team, I would say no. But with Boston sports fans most often ruled by Murphy’s Law, I think the prospect of consecutive historical collapses might just be on the mind of the Celtics on Friday. You can bet Doc Rivers will be asked about it - at least in jest- if we get to Game 6.
A Friday loss by the C’s would set up Sunday’s Game 7 as having the distinct possibility of being the darkest day in Boston sports history.
Chances of that happening, based on Orlando’s shaky performance to this point in the series, are slim to none. Practically take a rabbit out of a hat for that to happen.