Greatest NBA playoffs comebacks: Warriors join teams to have overcome 3-1 deficit

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors celebrates with the Western Conference Championship Trophy. Photo / Getty
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors celebrates with the Western Conference Championship Trophy. Photo / Getty

Golden State became just the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win a post-season series as they booked a second successive NBA Finals berth against Cleveland.

Despite completing the greatest NBA regular-season in history (73-9), the Warriors looked in grave danger of missing the finals after a 24-point away defeat last week put them 3-1 down.

However big guns Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson stepped up when it mattered to help secure the Warriors yet another slice of history. Here are the teams they matched.

TEAMS TO HAVE OVERCOME A 3-1 DEFICIT IN NBA POST-SEASON

Boston Celtics - 1968 Eastern Conference finals

The '68 Celtics did it the hard way, winning two of the final three games away from home. They survived 40 points from Hal Greer to win Game 6 and got double-digit scoring from six players to take Game 7.

Boston went on to win the championship, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2.

Los Angeles Lakers - 1970 Western Conference semi-finals

Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West scored 36 points each in Game 5 as the Lakers pulled away late. Game 6 followed a similar pattern while Game 7 was a rout. The Lakers swept the next round against Atlanta to extend their winning streak to seven, but fell in the NBA Finals to the New York Knicks 4-3.

Washington Bullets - 1979 Eastern Conference finals

George Gervin led a huge Spurs comeback try in Game 5 that fell just short, and the Bullets broke a tie with a 21-10 run late in Game 6. And in Game 7, Bobby Dandridge scored 37 points - the last of those a 12-footer from the baseline in the final seconds - as the Bullets moved on to the NBA Finals. There, they lost to the Seattle SuperSonics 4-1.

Boston Celtics - 1981 Eastern Conference finals

This was a series for the ages. Boston erased a six-point deficit in the final 1:51 of Game 5 to stay alive, scoring the final eight points. In Game 6, Boston was down by 17 in the second quarter and 15 in the third before rallying again. And one more comeback awaited in Game 7, the Celtics finding a way back from a seven-point hole midway through the fourth quarter. Boston then beat Houston 4-2 for the title.

Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler led the Houston Rockets to the 1995 NBA title. Photo / Getty
Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler led the Houston Rockets to the 1995 NBA title. Photo / Getty

Houston Rockets - 1995 Western Conference semi-finals

Hakeem Olajuwon scored late to send Game 5 to overtime, where Houston escaped. In Game 6, Olajuwon scored 30 and the Rockets pulled away in the fourth quarter. And then in Game 7, Mario Elie's corner 3-pointer in the final seconds was the decider as Houston went to the West finals. There, the Rockets ousted San Antonio 4-2, then swept Orlando in the NBA Finals.

Miami Heat - 1997 Eastern Conference semi-finals

Some probably remember this series for "The Fight." The Knicks and Heat battled in Game 5 and the penalties were fierce - New York played without Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston and Charlie Ward for Game 6, then were without Larry Johnson and John Starks for Game 7. Tim Hardaway scored 38 points for Miami in the deciding game to oust the Knicks, but the Heat would lose to Chicago 4-1 in the East finals.

Detroit Pistons - 2003 Eastern Conference first round

The top-seeded Pistons lost home court because they couldn't contain Orlando's Tracy McGrady in Game 1, but they figured out a solution in time to advance. A 14-0 run in the third quarter sparked a blowout, Chauncey Billups scored 40 points in Game 6 and followed that with 37 more in Game 7. The Pistons beat Philadelphia 4-2 in the East semis, then got swept by New Jersey in the East finals.

Phoenix Suns - 2006 Western Conference first round

Kobe Bryant's jumper at the buzzer of Game 4 gave the Lakers a 3-1 series lead, but the second-seeded Suns fended off the upset bid. Boris Diaw scored 25 points in Game 5 for Phoenix, Tim Thomas hit a long 3 late in regulation of Game 6 to force overtime and Game 7 was decided quickly. Phoenix went seven games again in the West semi-finals to beat the Los Angeles Clippers, then lost 4-2 in the West finals to Dallas.

Houston Rockets - 2015 Western Conference semi-finals

The Clippers won Game 3 by 25, then won Game 4 by 33 for a 3-1 series lead. James Harden had 26 points in Game 5 to lead Houston's win, and then the Rockets outscored the Clippers 40-15 in the fourth quarter on the road in Game 6 to make a 13-point deficit with 12 minutes left more than disappear. Harden added 31 more points in Game 7, and the Rockets moved to the West finals, where they lost 4-1 to Golden State.

Golden State Warriors - 2016 Western Conference Finals

The series was locked at 1-1 before heading to Oklahoma City where the Thunder made home advantage count to take a 3-1 lead. Curry steered the Warriors home in Game 5, despite an off shooting night by his standards, before Thompson's record-breaking three-point blitz helped Golden State square up the series. Game 7 was a tense affair but Curry stepped up when it mattered, scoring 36 points in the lowest-scoring game of the series.

* No team has ever come from 3-0 down to win a post-season series.

- news.com.au

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