The Denver Nuggets somehow came back from a 3-1 deficit in the first round and the second round of the 2020 playoffs! When people think of the term up or down 3-1, they generally think of the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, in 2016. However, there have been a handful of times where a team came back from down 3-1. So here they are:
1968 Eastern Division Finals:
The Boston Celtics overcame a 3-1 deficit from the Philadelphia 76ers, and went on to win the championship.
1970 Western Divison Semi-Finals:
The Los Angeles Lakers overcame a 3-1 deficit from the Phoenix Suns.
1979 Eastern Conference Finals:
The Washington Bullets (now the Wizards) overcame a 3-1 deficit from the San Antonio Spurs, and then lost in the NBA Finals. Yes I know that the Spurs are in the Western Conference, but they were in the East at one point in time.
1981 Eastern Conference Finals:
The Boston Celtics overcame a 3-1 deficit from the Philadelphia 76ers, and went on to win the championship. I know it looks like I copied and pasted this from 1968, but I promise you this actually happened; again. And with the 76ers getting swept by the Celtics in the first round; I feel really bad for Philadelphia.
1995 Western Conference Semi-Finals:
The Houston Rockets overcame a 3-1 series deficit against the Phoenix Suns. This was the first time that anyone won two away games while coming back from a 3-1 deficit, and Houston went on to win the NBA championship. This was Hakeem’s (Olajuwon) team.
1997 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals:
The Miami Heat overcame a 3-1 deficit against the New York Knicks. One reason they might have pulled this off is that several key Knicks players, such as Patrick Ewing, were suspended for certain games due to a fight. By the way, did you know that Patrick Ewing briefly played on the Seattle Supersonics after his time with the New York Knicks? I didn’t.
2003 Eastern Conference First Round:
The Detroit Pistons overcame a 3-1 deficit against the Orlando Magic. This Orlando Magic team had a healthy Tracy McGrady, and after Game 4 was quoted as saying, “It feels good to get into the 2nd round,” as he previously had not made it that far in the playoffs in his young career. The thing is, not counting his years on the Spurs, Tracy McGrady never made the 2nd round of the playoffs, and this series was what started his playoff “curse.” This was also the first year that the first round of the playoffs became a best-of-7 series.
2006 Western Conference First Round:
The Phoenix Suns overcame a 3-1 deficit against the Los Angeles Lakers. This was the Phoenix Suns that had the 7 seconds or less offense, and the Lakers had Kobe Bryant, as they always had from 1996-2016.
2015 Western Conference Semi-Finals:
The Houston Rockets overcame a 3-1 deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers.
2016 Western Conference Finals:
The Golden State Warriors overcame a 3-1 deficit against the Oklahoma City Thunder. And this was a very memorable series because it may have just been the turning point for Kevin Durant to sign with the Warriors and win two championships. It was also memorable because of what happened the very next series:
2016 NBA Finals:
The most memorable on this list, the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit against the Warriors in the finals after the Warriors had overcame a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals.
And most recently, the Denver Nuggets overcame 3-1 deficits in back-to-back playoff series in 2020, making it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time this decade.
Comment below which playoff series, don’t forget to drop a like, and as always, have an awesome day!