List of teams that have come back from 3-1 in NBA history

The Spurs sure do have some work ahead of them. So do the Orlando Magic, who got the first part of their assignment out of the way with an easy win last night.

There are even more but the reality is that the Philadelphia 76ers, who are down 3-1 to the Heat, and the Denver Nuggets, down 3-1 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, don't really belong on this list because they fell down 0-3 and no team in NBA history has rallied from a 0-3 deficit to win although three have tied.

Regardless, here are the eight teams in NBA history who were down 3-1 and lived to play another round in chronological order:

Team: Boston Celtics (2)
Opponent: Philadelphia 76ers (1)
Round: Eastern Conference Finals
Year: 1968

The first of two times, though the less famous of the two, Boston rallied from 3-1 down and won two games in Philadelphia to make NBA history as the first team to win the final three games of the best of seven after losing three of the first four.

Team: Los Angeles Lakers (2)
Opponent: Phoenix Suns (3)
Round: Western Semifinals

The Suns (39-43) had crashed the playoff party in only their second season and spiked the Lakers with a punch as they took a 3-1 lead. However, Jerry West and company made sure they would not exit too soon and came back to win, eventually advancing to the famous Willis Reed NBA Finals against the Knicks.

Team: Washington Bullets (1), now known as the Wizards
Opponent: San Antonio Spurs (2)
Round: Eastern Conference Finals
Year: 1979

Before they became one of the NBA's model franchises, "The Iceman" George Gervin and company were known for coming up short in big games during the postseason and this was one example as Elvin Hayes and the defending champion Bullets rallied to reach the NBA Finals for the second straight year.

Team: Boston Celtics (1)
Opponent: Philadelphia 76ers (2)
Round: Eastern Conference Finals
Year: 1981

Luckily, the Celtics had the home court advantage this time in their epic comeback against the Sixers in 1981 on the way their 14th NBA title and the first for Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and company.

Team: Houston Rockets (6)
Opponent: Phoenix Suns (3)
Round: Western Semifinals
Year: 1995

The Rockets did it the hard way and after being ransacked by revenge minded Phoenix in the first four games, the Rockets dug deep and won not one but two games in Phoenix, giving the Suns the "Kiss of Death" in the Valley of the Sun 115-114 in Game 7. Houston went on to win their second straight NBA championship.

Team: Miami Heat (2)
Opponent: New York Knicks (3)
Round: Eastern Semifinals
Year: 1997

In the beginning of the brutal rivalry (both to be involved in and to watch) between the Heat and the Knicks over the next few seasons, the Heat rallied from 3-1 down in part due to suspensions late in the series to Knicks and won Game 7 in Miami 101-90.

Team: Detroit Pistons (1)
Opponent: Orlando Magic (8)
Round: First
Year: 2003

"It feels good to get out of the first round," said Tracy McGrady(notes) after Game 4 of the series.

8 years later, and he still has yet to play (key emphasis on that last word) on the winning end of a playoff series since opening his mouth too soon in the Pistons comeback to win this seven game series in 2003.

Team: Phoenix Suns (2)
Opponent: Los Angeles Lakers (7)
Round: First

The Suns survived a scare from the retooling L.A. Lakers as Kobe Bryant(notes) nearly carried them to series win before Phoenix rallied to win the final three games in relative ease, save a scare in Game 6.

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Updated Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011