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How many teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals?

Here’s a look back at teams which went on to win the Finals despite going down 3-1.

2023 NBA Finals - Game Four Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets put its foot down in Game 4 of the 2023 NBA Finals on Friday, running the Miami Heat off their own home floor in a 108-95 victory. Down 3-1 in the series, the Heat are on the brink of elimination and will now have to pull off one of the most improbable comebacks in sports to win the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

Out of 36 times where there has been a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals history, only one team has successfully orchestrated a comeback to win the title. That team, of course, was the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers, who rattled off three straight victories against the 73-win Golden State Warriors to capture the city’s first major pro sports championship in over half a century. Game 7 of that series has since been regarded as one of the greatest NBA Finals games in history and has been immortalized by LeBron James’ chase down block on Andre Iguodala.

Beyond the NBA Finals, there have only been 13 instances in NBA postseason history where a team has overcome a 3-1 deficit to win the series. Prior to the 2016 Finals, that same Warriors team came back on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, bringing an end to the Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook era in OKC. Four years later during the bubble playoffs of 2020, the Nuggets pulled off not one, but two 3-1 comebacks, defeating the Utah Jazz in the first round and the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round. Ironically, those comebacks put the Nikola Jokic-led Nuggets on the map as serious contenders in the Western Conference and put them on the path to where they stand at this moment up 3-1.