Celtics Heat Basketball

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) and forward Jimmy Butler (22) defend Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon (13) during the second half of Game 3 of the NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals, Sunday, May 21, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

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Both conference finals series in the NBA playoffs have teams out to 3-0 leads — by the favored Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference and underdog Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.

It's an advantage that's been insurmountable in the history of the association: Teams are 0 for 149 all-time after falling behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven NBA playoff series.

But for the Los Angeles Lakers, who play Game 4 at home Monday night against the Nuggets, and the Boston Celtics, on the road at Miami on Tuesday night, there's nothing to do but keep fighting.

Even if the odds are zero historically, the sportsbooks say there's a sliver of hope, particularly for the Celtics. Boston, which has been favored in each of the first three games, is +750 to rally and win the Eastern Conference at Caesars Sportsbook, official odds partner of Bet.NOLA.com. That implies an 11.76% chance, certainly something more than zero.

The Lakers' odds are longer, coming in at +1300 at Caesars. That implies a 7.14% probability.

Of course, betting the other way yields very little value. Miami is -1200 to advance (92.3%) and Denver is -3000 (96.8%).

Interestingly, in the series' respective Game 4s, the Lakers are more likely to extend the series, being favored by 3 points at home Monday night, while Boston is an underdog for the first time in the series, getting 1½ points in Miami on Tuesday.

But if the Celtics could win that game and return to Boston for Game 5, the thus-far impossible would become merely improbable. In the meantime, even the odds say it's a huge long shot.

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