Game 7 of the 2023 NBA Eastern Conference Finals will tip off tonight at 8:30 p.m ET as the Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat. After going down 0-3, the Celtics have miraculously won three straight games to tie the series and now sit just one win away fro meeting the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals. They are also just one win away from pulling off one of the rarest feats in all of sports...the reverse sweep.
The NBA, NHL, and MLB all have best-of-seven series as part of their respective postseason formats. Combining the histories of all three leagues, there have been only five times where a team has overcome an 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series.
The most famous instance of this happening occurred in the MLB during the 2004 ALCS, where the Boston Red Sox rallied from an 0-3 deficit to defeat their arch rival New York Yankees in seven games. In one of the most dramatic playoff series in baseball history, the Sox managed to secure a pair of extra-inning walkoff victories in Game’s 4 and 5 before starting pitcher Curt Schilling carried them through Game 6 in what has become known as the “Bloody Sock” game. Boston then hammered New York 10-3 in Game 7 to advance to the 2004 World Series, where the team swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win the franchise’s first title in 86 years.
The other four instances of a “reverse sweep” have taken place in the NHL. The first occurrence took place in the 1942 Stanley Cup Finals, where the Toronto Maple Leafs came back on the Detroit Red Wings to hoist the cup. The second time it happened was in 1975, where the New York Islanders rallied in the quarterfinal round to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven. The next two cases have taken place in recent years as in 2010, the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Philadelphia Flyers pulled it off against the Boston Bruins. And in 2014, the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings reverse swept their Pacific Division rival San Jose Sharks in round one.
No team in NBA history has ever successfully come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a series and the Celtics have a chance to become the first tonight. Boston is just the fourth team in league history to force a Game 7 after being down 0-3.