Throughout the history of the NBA playoffs, seven-game playoff series can see momentum shifts and swings that can be hard to anticipate. Whether it’s a revised game plan from the coaching staff or a critical injury, the game-to-game drama is what makes the postseason exciting, unless your team is down 2-0 in a playoff series.
The success rate for an NBA team to come back and win a series after dropping the first two games is staggeringly bad. Only 33 teams in 447 seven-game playoff series have ever come back to win. Yeah, that’s just above a cool seven percent.
We will update this article throughout the NBA playoffs, but in the meantime, here’s a look at the NBA clubs that came back after going down 2-0 in a best-of-seven series:
|Year||Series Winner||Series Loser||Round|
|1969||Boston||L.A. Lakers||NBA Finals|
|1969||L.A. Lakers||San Francisco||Western Division semifinal|
|1971||Baltimore||New York||Eastern Conference final|
|1993||Chicago||New York||Eastern Conference final|
|1994||Houston||Phoenix||Western Conference semifinal|
|1995||Houston||Phoenix||Western Conference semifinal|
|2004||L.A. Lakers||San Antonio||Western Conference semifinal|
|2005||Dallas||Houston||Western Conference first round|
|2005||Washington||Chicago||Eastern Conference first round|
|2007||Utah||Houston||Western Conference first round|
|2007||Cleveland||Detroit||Eastern Conference final|
|2008||San Antonio||New Orleans||Western Conference semifinal|
|2012||Oklahoma City||San Antonio||Western Conference final|
|2013||Memphis||L.A. Clippers||Western Conference first round|
|2016||Portland||L.A. Clippers||Western Conference first round|
|2016||Cleveland||Golden State||NBA Finals|
|2017||Boston||Chicago||Eastern Conference first round|
|2018||Cleveland||Boston||Eastern Conference final|
|2019||Raptors||Bucks||Eastern Conference final|
|2021||Clippers||Mavericks||Western Conference first round|
|2021||Bucks||Nets||Eastern Conference semifinal|
|2021||Clippers||Jazz||Western Conference semifinal|
|2022||Mavericks||Suns||Western Conference semifinal|
|2023||Warriors||Kings||Western Conference first round|
NBA teams that have won the series after trailing 2-0: Recent Examples
Shockingly, six teams have stormed back from a 2-0 deficit in the last three years.
2021 Milwaukee Bucks
As we've established, returning from a two-game deficit is a supremely rare feat. Yet, somehow, the Bucks did it twice in one playoff. First, Milwaukee knocked off the Nets in the East semis, then raged back to snuff the Suns and secure an NBA championship victory. Golly, what a run that was.
2021 Los Angeles Clippers
At the same time the Bucks were wilding out, the Clippers had a sizzling stretch of their own. That was L.A.'s peak during a brief time when Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were both healthy and playing at near-MVP levels. Eventually, injuries dragged Kawhi down, but not before that '21 Clippers squad secured 2-0 comebacks over the Mavericks and Jazz.
2023 Golden State Warriors
There were serious alarm bells sounding when the Dubs fell behind the Kings 2-0 in the first round of the 2023 playoffs. Sacramento stormed out of the gates, swarming Golden State with offensive firepower. However, the Warriors eventually bounced back, winning three straight games before taking Game 7 by a score of 120-100 thanks to Steph Curry's 50-point effort.
NBA Teams Down 3-0: A Sad, Sad History
One order of pain and despair, please, shaken, not stirred.
There's nothing more dreadful than watching your favorite team fall behind a series 3-0. That sucks. But then the ecstasy that follows when they even it up 3-3? That's sweet. In the NBA, though, that joy disappears quickly, as no team has ever successfully won a series after trailing 3-0. Four teams have forced a Game 7.
Here are a few squads that came close.
2023 Boston Celtics
This wound is still fresh in Beantown. The Celtics were the NBA championship chalk for most of the regular season, and after two sound series victories, they crumbled in the Eastern Finals. But first, the C's put their fans through a real rigamarole.
JIMMY AND THE HEAT GET THEIR REVENGE ON THE CELTICS 😤 pic.twitter.com/WPxpiwAs0O— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 30, 2023
Jaylen Brown swore his team needed just one win, and he was right. The Celtics, on the brink of elimination, rattled off three in a row but couldn't stop the buzzsaw Miami Heat. And, in the end, all Celtics fans got was a puddle of tears.
2003 Portland Trail Blazers
Who cares, right? Well, the Trail Blazers almost achieved history, and that would've counted for something, even in a menial first-round series.
The Dallas Mavericks were good that year, operating under a flawless pick-and-roll tandem of Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash. So when the Blazers fell behind, it looked like a sure thing. Damon Stoudamire, Zach Randolph and the boys clawed back, but they just couldn't squeeze out that elusive Game 7 win.