NBA Teams That Erased an 0-2 Playoff Deficit In a 7-Game Series

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Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks handles the ball against Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns in Game Seven of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals at Footprint Center on May 15, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona.
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy May 20, 2024, 9:05 AM

Every year, it’s one of the most commonly searched questions of the NBA playoffs: How often does a team defy their own NBA odds and come back from an 0-2 playoff series deficit?

I was frustrated by the lack of comprehensive answers available, so I combed through 25 years of playoff box scores to make a complete and accurate modern list. 

The results – which I’ve assembled in the chart just below – are quite interesting. 

Many of us have committed to memory a handful of prominent examples of teams that went down 0-2, only to come back and win the series. However, what seems to happen quite a bit more often is that Team B falls behind 0-2, then evens the series with Team A at 2-2 – only to quickly lose the series in six games. 

Since the 2000 NBA postseason, a playoff team has blown a 2-0 series lead a total of 60 times. But in about two-thirds of those cases, the team that blew the lead still went on to win the series and advance to the next round.

This list includes every instance of a series in which one team trailed 0-2 but eventually erased the deficit— regardless of whether or not they ultimately won the series. 

To make this list as easy as possible to read and extract data from, I have placed an asterisk next to all the 0-2 trailing teams who successfully came back and won their series. 

NBA Teams That Erased 0-2 Playoff Deficits In a 7-Game Series

Year (Round)NBA Team Down 0-2OpponentEventual Winner (Series Score)
2024 (Second Round)NuggetsTimberwolvesTimberwolves (4-3)
2024 (Second Round)Pacers*KnicksPacers (4-3)
2024 (First Round)MagicCavaliersCavaliers (4-3)
2023 (First Round)Warriors*KingsWarriors (4-3)
2023 (Second Round)SunsNuggetsNuggets (4-2)
2023 (ECF)CelticsHeatHeat (4-3)
2022 (Second Round)76ersHeatHeat (4-2)
2022 (Second Round)Mavericks*SunsMavericks (4-3)
2021 (First Round)Clippers*MavericksClippers (4-3)
2021 (Second Round)Bucks*NetsBucks (4-3)
2021 (Second Round)Clippers*JazzClippers (4-2)
2021 (NBA Finals)Bucks*SunsBucks (4-2)
2020 (First Round)ThunderRocketsRockets (4-3)
2020 (Second Round)RaptorsCelticsCeltics (4-3)
2019 (Second Round)RocketsWarriorsWarriors (4-2)
2019 (ECF)Raptors*BucksRaptors (4-2)
2018 (First Round)WizardsRaptors Raptors (4-2)
2018 (First Round)BucksCelticsCeltics (4-3)
2018 (ECF)Cavaliers*CelticsCavaliers (4-3)
2017 (First Round)Celtics*BullsCeltics (4-2)
2017 (First Round)HawksWizardsWizards (4-2)
2017 (First Round)GrizzliesSpursSpurs (4-2)
2017 (Second Round)WizardsCelticsCeltics (4-3)
2016 (First Round)HornetsHeatHeat (4-3)
2016 (First Round)CelticsHawksHawks (4-2)
2016 (First Round)Trail Blazers*ClippersTrail Blazers (4-2)
2016 (ECF)RaptorsCavaliersCavaliers (4-2)
2016 (NBA Finals)Cavaliers*WarriorsCavaliers (4-3)
2015 (First Round)NetsHawksHawks (4-2)
2014 (WCF)ThunderSpursSpurs (4-2)
2013 (First Round)HawksPacersPacers (4-2)
2013 (First Round)Grizzlies*ClippersGrizzlies (4-2)
2012 (First Round)NuggetsLakersLakers (4-3)
2012 (ECF)CelticsHeatHeat (4-3)
2012 (WCF)Thunder*SpursThunder (4-2)
2011 (First Round)Trail BlazersMavericksMavericks (4-2)
2010 (First Round)BucksHawks Hawks (4-3)
2010 (First Round)ThunderLakersLakers (4-2)
2010 (WCF)SunsLakersLakers (4-2)
2008 (First Round)HawksCelticsCeltics (4-3)
2008 (Second Round)CavaliersCelticsCeltics (4-3)
2008 (Second Round)JazzLakersLakers (4-2)
2008 (Second Round)Spurs*PelicansSpurs (4-3)
2007 (First Round)Jazz*RocketsJazz (4-3)
2007 (ECF)Cavaliers*PistonsCavaliers (4-2)
2006 (First Round)BullsHeatHeat (4-2)
2006 (First Round)KingsSpursSpurs (4-2)
2006 (Second Round)CavaliersPistonsPistons (4-3)
2006 (NBA Finals)Heat*MavericksHeat (4-2)
2005 (First Round)Wizards*BullsWizards (4-2)
2005 (First Round)Mavericks*RocketsMavericks (4-3)
2005 (Second Round)SuperSonicsSpursSpurs (4-2)
2005 (NBA Finals)PistonsSpursSpurs (4-3)
2004 (First Round)HornetsHeat Heat (4-3)
2004 (Second Round)HeatPacersPacers (4-2)
2004 (Second Round)NetsPistonsPistons (4-3)
2004 (Second Round)Lakers*SpursLakers (4-2)
2003 (First Round)Trail BlazersMavericksMavericks (4-3)
2003 (Second Round)76ersPistonsPistons (4-2)
2003 (Second Round)LakersSpursSpurs (4-2)
2001 (Second Round)HornetsBucksBucks (4-3)
2000 (ECF)KnicksPacersPacers (4-2)

NBA Teams That Erased 0-3 Deficit

No NBA team has ever won a series after going down 0-3. 

However, three teams in the post-merger era have erased a 0-3 deficit and forced a Game 7. They are:

  • 2023 Boston Celtics (Eastern Conference finals)
  • 2003 Portland Trail Blazers (Western Conference first round)
  • 1994 Denver Nuggets (Western Conference semifinals)

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.