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NBA Playoffs: Golden State Warriors and Teams with 3-1 Comebacks

Stephen Curry and the 2016 Golden State Warriors are the First to Come Back From 3-1 Down in the Western Conference Finals

Stephen Curry and the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors are the First Ever to Come Back From 3-1 Down in the Western Conference Finals

It’s been a while since Sports List of the Day has hit the presses but the 2016 Golden State Warriors and Western Conference Finals have re-inspired some old writing and statistical passions.


Well, the Warriors just became only the 10th team in NBA postseason history to come back from a 3-1 deficit (and the first ever in the Western Conference Finals, in fact – now how about that). It has happened three times in the Eastern Conference Finals, but still never in the NBA Finals.

And just to note, no NBA team has ever come back from three down (3-0) to win four straight. It’s happened in other sports, though.

Back in 2013, when Sports List of the Day first took a look at 3-1 NBA postseason comebacks, only eight teams had achieved the feat. Since then, the 2015 Houston Rockets and this season’s Warriors have joined the list.

Let’s take another look at all 10 comebacks, and add a dose of statistical fruit to feed your head…

10. Golden State Warriors (1) Oklahoma City Thunder (3) 2016 Western Finals
9. Houston Rockets (2) Los Angeles Clippers (3) 2006 Western Semis
8. Phoenix Suns (2) Los Angeles Lakers (7) 2006 Eastern Round 1 121-90
7. Detroit Pistons (1) Orlando Magic (8) 2003 Eastern Round 1 108-93
6. Miami Heat (2) New York Knicks (3) 1997 Eastern Semis 101-90
5. Houston Rockets (6) Phoenix Suns (3) 1995 Western Semis 115-114*
4. Boston Celtics (1) Philadelphia 76ers (2) 1981 Eastern Finals 91-90
3. Washington Bullets (1) San Antonio Spurs (2) 1979 Eastern Finals 107-105
2. Los Angeles Lakers (2) Phoenix Suns (3) 1970 Western Semis 129-94
1. Boston Celtics (2) Philadelphia 76ers (1) 1968 Eastern Finals 100-96*

* Underdog (by seeding) and so won Game 7 on the road: the 1968 Boston Celtics and 1995 Houston Rockets

There have now been

Photos: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images,


NHL: Teams That Have Come Back from 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals

The 2010-11 Boston Bruins Were The Last Team To Come Back From Down Three Games To Two In The Stanley Cup Playoffs Finals

The 2010-11 Boston Bruins Were The Last Team To Come Back From Being Down Three Games To Two In The Stanley Cup Playoffs Finals

Well, someone’s going to be in this position after tomorrow night. Either the Chicago Blackhawks or the Tampa Bay Lightning will be down three games to two in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The loser will have to take the series to seven games and win the final two in order to hoist the Cup.

In the history of the NHL, since the first official Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1918, the Finals have gone to seven games just 16 times. That’s 16 out of 95*  Finals (16.8 percent).

Exactly half of those series (eight) saw the team down 3-2 win it all. They are listed below, including the **1942 Toronto Maple Leafs who came back from 3-0.

The upshot? According to history, no matter who wins tomorrow night, it’s a coin flip (50-50) to call the winner.

1. 1942** Toronto Maple Leafs Detroit Red Wings
2. 1950 Detroit Red Wings New York Rangers
3. 1964 Toronto Maple Leafs Detroit Red Wings
4. 1971 Montreal Canadiens Chicago Black Hawks
5. 2001 Colorado Avalanche New Jersey Devils
6. 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning Calgary Flames
7. 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins Detroit Red Wings
8. 2011 Boston Bruins Vancouver Canucks

* 1919 was cancelled due to the global flu epidemic and 2005 was never played thanks to a lockout.


MLB World Series: Teams that Have Come Back From Down 2-0

The 1996 New York Yankees Were The Last Team To Come Back From 2-0 To Win The World Series

The 1996 New York Yankees Were The Last Team To Come Back From 2-0 To Win The World Series

Out of 109 completed World Series, about half – 53 – started out with one team going up two games to none over the other.

Of those, only 11 times has the team down 2-0 come back to win the championship. And of those, four – that is only four times (!) – has the team with home field advantage come back to win it all.

Let’s check the percentages on all this. Down 2-0? Then, actually not too bad considering the circumstances – you’ve got a 21 percent chance of winning the World Series.

However, if you lose those first two games at home, things dwindle to a 5.7 percent chance (three of 53). I’m not including 1921, because back then teams alternated playing at home with the home field advantage team getting Game 7.

The upshot is, if the Kansas City Royals (who gained home field advantage thanks to the American League winning the All-Star Game) lose again tonight, things won’t be looking good at all for a title. Then again, they didn’t look good in 1985, either. The Royals happened to be one of those home teams.

1. 1921 New York Giants* New York Yankees 5-3
2. 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers New York Yankees 4-3
3. 1956 New York Yankees Brooklyn Dodgers 4-3
4. 1958 New York Yankees Milwaukee Braves 4-3
5. 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers Minnesota Twins 4-3
6. 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates Baltimore Orioles 4-3
7. 1978 New York Yankees Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2
8. 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers New York Yankees 4-2
9. 1985 Kansas City Royals* St. Louis Cardinals 4-3
10. 1986 New York Mets* Boston Red Sox 4-3
11. 1996 New York Yankees* Atlanta Braves 4-2

* home field advantage

Photo: Susan Walsh, AP via

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