NBA Teams That Have Come Back from 3-1 to Win a Playoff Series

Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and the Houston Rockets Won the 1995 NBA Championship

Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and the Houston Rockets Won the 1995 NBA Title (the Rockets’ Second in a Row)

Only eight teams in NBA Playoff history have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win their series. It has never happened in the NBA Finals or Western Conference Finals.

Three times, though, a team has done this – the ultimate in NBA postseason comebacks, as no team has ever come back from 3-0 (see here) – in the Eastern Conference Finals.

In 2013, the Brooklyn Nets had a shot at becoming the ninth team, but fell to the undermanned and underdog Chicago Bulls in Round 1. The Oklahoma City Thunder are now down 3-1 to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Semis and the Bulls are themselves now down 3-1 to the Miami Heat i the Eastern Semis. Meanwhile, the New York Knicks are looking to avoid a 3-1 deficit. They are down 2-1 to the Indiana Pacers.

Of the eight teams to come back from 3-1, only two were underdogs according to seeding, and so won that seventh game on the road (noted with an asterisk).

The 1994-95 Houston Rockets, for example, who went on to win their second title in a row, had to get past the Suns in Phoenix in a 115-114 Game 7 first.

The 1967-68 Boston Celtics is the other team to win that Game 7 on the road. They went on to win their 10th title in 12 years.

The 1980-81 Boston Celtics are the third (and last) team on the list below that went on the win the NBA Finals.

The 1996-97 New York Knicks should have won their Semifinals series against the Miami Heat, but a melee in Game 5 led to five staggered suspensions for New York in Games 6 and 7. For the full story, check out the 15 Biggest Disappointments in NY Knicks History.

1. Phoenix Suns (2) Los Angeles Lakers (7) 2006 Eastern 1 121-90
2. Detroit Pistons (1) Orlando Magic (8) 2003 Eastern 1 108-93
3. Miami Heat (2) New York Knicks (3) 1997 Eastern Semis 101-90
4. Houston Rockets (6) Phoenix Suns (3) 1995 Western Semis 115-114*
5. Boston Celtics (1) Philadelphia 76ers (2) 1981 Eastern Finals 91-90
6. Washington Bullets (1) San Antonio Spurs (2) 1979 Eastern Finals 107-105
7. Los Angeles Lakers (2) Phoenix Suns (3) 1970 Western Semis 129-94
8. Boston Celtics (2) Philadelphia 76ers (1) 1968 Eastern Finals 100-96*

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Posted on May 14, 2013, in NBA Basketball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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