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How often does winner of Game 3 win NBA Finals in a 1-1 series?

Here’s how the Finals tend to turn out for the winner of Game 3 in a 1-1 series.

The Miami Heat were able to rally late in Game 2 of the 2023 NBA Finals, downing the Denver Nuggets in a 111-108 victory. As heavy underdogs entering the matchup on Sunday, the Heat were able to pick up a crucial victory in Denver and the series is now tied 1-1 heading to south Florida. This marks the 41st time in NBA Finals history where both teams have split the first two games and historically in this scenario, Game 3 has mostly determined who will ultimately hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

When the NBA Finals have been tied 1-1, the winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the series 32 out of 40 times (80%). Game 3 effectively serves as the bridge to the rest of the series and the winner gains a boost by reclaiming homecourt advantage for the time being.

Even though its’s rare, there have been a few instances in the last decade where the Game 3 winner went on to lose the series. In 2013, the San Antonio Spurs blew the Heat off the court in a 113-77 Game 3 victory, only to eventually lose the series in seven. In 2015, the Cleveland Cavaliers went up 2-1 on the Golden State Warriors with 96-91 victory, only to drop the next three games and lose the series. And just last year, the Boston Celtics downed the Warriors in a 116-100 victory in Game 3, only to lose the next three games and drop the series.

Denver will enter Game 3 on Wednesday as a slight 2.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.