NBA Teams down 3-0 to force game 7 are Boston Celtics in 2023, New York Knicks (1951 Finals), Denver Nuggets (1994) and Portland Trail Blazers in 2003.

Throughout NBA history, there have been remarkable instances where teams facing a daunting 3-0 deficit in a playoff series have managed to defy the odds and force a decisive Game 7.

Similarly, there have been 13 instances where a team has returned from a 3-1 deficit to prevail in a playoff series. One notable example of such a comeback occurred in the 1968 Eastern Division Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers.

After finding themselves down 3-1, the Celtics rallied back and won two crucial games on the road. They managed to force a Game 7 and clinch the NBA Finals that year, solidifying their place in basketball history.

Celtics have pulled off heroics in the 2023 conference finals following the buzzer-beater from Derrick White in the rebound. Before them, 3 teams have done the same; let's have a look.

Rochester Royals vs New York Knick

Winner: Rochester Royals

Game: 1951 NBA Finals

Series: 4-3

The 1951 NBA Finals between the Rochester Royals and the New York Knicks was an unforgettable series that climaxed in a thrilling final game. The Royals won the first three games, but the Knicks rallied to force a Game 7.

It was a close match, but the Royals won 79-75, making it the first time in the NBA history that a team who went down 0-3 had forced a Game 7. It was also the first NBA Finals to go the full distance.

This particular Finals series is notable for being one of the rare instances in NBA history where a team managed to overcome a daunting 3-0 deficit to force a decisive seventh game.

The highly anticipated Game 7 occurred on April 21, 1951, at New York City's Madison Square Garden. The atmosphere was charged with excitement as fans eagerly awaited the unfolding of history.

The Rochester Royals battle for the rebound with the New York Knicks during an NBA game on December 6, 1955 at the Madison Square Garden in New York
Source : com

The Rochester Royals, who had experienced three consecutive losses after a strong start in the series, were determined to recapture their early dominance.

Ultimately, the Rochester Royals emerged victorious, prevailing over the Knicks in Game 7 with a final score of 79-75. Bob Davies, a standout player for the Royals, delivered an outstanding performance, contributing 20 points while orchestrating the team's offense.

This triumph marked a historic moment for the Rochester Royals, as they secured their first and only NBA championship, clinching the series with a final score of 4-3.

The valiant effort of the New York Knicks who managed to force a Game 7 after being down 3-0, remains a significant event in NBA history, highlighting the unpredictability and resilience of teams in the face of adversity.

Denver Nuggets vs Utah Jazz

Winner: Utah Jazz

Date: 1994 Western Conference Second Round

Series: 4-3

In the 1994 Western Conference Second Round, the Denver Nuggets faced off against the Utah Jazz in a highly competitive series that extended to seven games, ultimately resulting in a 4-3 victory for the Jazz.

The Nuggets accomplished a remarkable feat by becoming the second team in NBA history to rally from a 3-0 deficit and force a seventh game. They defeated the Jazz 94-91 in Denver, leveling the Western Conference semifinal at 3-3.

The seventh and deciding game occurred in Salt Lake City, where the Nuggets aimed to become the first team to triumph in a playoff series after falling behind 3-0. However, the Jazz emerged victorious with a 91-81 score, ending the Nuggets' improbable playoff run.

Throughout the series, both teams exhibited great performances. The Jazz had an undefeated regular-season record against the Nuggets, winning all five encounters. 

Denver vs. Jazz match in 1994 Western Conference Semifinals Game 5
Source : legendsofsport

The Nuggets entered the playoffs as the 8th seed in the Western Conference, while Utah held the 5th seed. Key players for the Nuggets included Dikembe Mutombo and Bryant Stith, while Karl Malone and Jeff Hornacek played significant roles for the Jazz.

The series spanned from May 10 to May 21, 1994, and featured several memorable games. The Nuggets secured a thrilling double-overtime victory in Game 5, prevailing over the Jazz with a score of 109-101. 

However, the Jazz responded strongly in Game 6, with Reggie Williams sinking the game-winning shot with 1.9 seconds remaining, resulting in an 82-83 victory. Ultimately, the Jazz sealed their triumph by defeating the Nuggets 91-81 in Game 7.

Here's a breakdown of the games:

  • Game 1: Denver Nuggets 91, Utah Jazz 100
  • Game 2: Denver Nuggets 94, Utah Jazz 104
  • Game 3: Utah Jazz 111, Denver Nuggets 109
  • Game 4: Utah Jazz 82, Denver Nuggets 83
  • Game 5: Denver Nuggets 109, Utah Jazz 101
  • Game 6: Utah Jazz 91, Denver Nuggets 94
  • Game 7: Denver Nuggets 81, Utah Jazz 91

The Utah Jazz's extraordinary turnaround remains one of the most unforgettable moments in NBA playoff history. This victory propelled the Jazz to the Western Conference Finals, facing the Houston Rockets.

Dallas Mavericks vs Portland Trail Blazers

Winner: Dallas Mavericks

Date: 2003 NBA Playoffs

Series: 4-3

In the 2003 NBA Playoffs Western Conference First Round, the Dallas Mavericks squared off against the Portland Trail Blazers in a highly contested series that extended to seven games. Ultimately, the Mavericks emerged victorious with a 4-3 series win.

The Blazzers have come closest to winning a series after being down 3-0 in the NBA playoffs. As the 3rd seed in the Western Conference, the Mavericks faced the 6th-seeded Trail Blazers.

The crucial Game 7 occurred in Portland, where the Mavericks sealed their advancement with a 107-95 triumph, securing their spot in the second round of the playoffs.

Key players for the Mavericks included Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash while Rasheed Wallace and Scottie Pippen played significant roles for the Trail Blazers. During the regular season, the Dallas Mavericks had the upper hand, winning the series against the Trail Blazers with a 3-1 record.

The Portland Trail Blazers during Game 7 of the first round of the 2003 NBA Playoffs on May 4, 2003 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas (Photo by Glenn James)
Source : gettyimages

The series unfolded between April 19 and May 4, 2003, featuring several thrilling encounters. The Mavericks claimed victories in Game 1 (96-86) and Game 2 (103-99), both played in Dallas. The Trail Blazers responded strongly, winning Game 3 (115-103) and Game 4 (98-79), both played in Portland.

In Game 5, played in Dallas, the Mavericks secured a 103-99 victory. However, the Trail Blazers bounced back in Game 6, also played in Portland, winning by the same score of 103-99, thereby forcing a decisive Game 7.

With their Game 7 triumph in Portland, the Mavericks advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals. Unfortunately, their journey ended as they faced defeat against the San Antonio Spurs in the subsequent round.