3-0 Comebacks Don't Happen Often in Pro Sports, but They Aren't Impossible

The Mavericks and Oilers are both down 3-0 in their respective finals. Could either team see a comeback?


Jun. 14 2024, Published 10:22 a.m. ET

Luka Doncic during the 2024 NBA Finals.
Source: Getty Images

If the Dallas Mavericks want to win the NBA Finals, they're going to have to do what no team has done before. The team is down 3-0 in a best of seven series, and no team has ever come back from that deficit to win any playoff series, let alone the finals.

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Given that history, many want to know whether coming back from a 3-0 deficit has been achieved in any major sport. Here's what we know about the history of 3-0 comebacks across professional sports.

The Edmonton Oilers during the 2024 Stanley Cup Finals.
Source: Getty Images
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Has a 3-0 comeback ever happened?

While it's exceedingly rare, 3-0 comebacks have happened in the past. In fact, the Boston Celtics team that's now on the verge of clinching the NBA title almost accomplished it last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, coming down from 3-0 to force a game seven that they ultimately lost. It was a stunning disappointment, but proof that a 3-0 comeback is tantalizingly possible.

Has an MLB team ever come back from down 3-0?

Only one team in the history of MLB has successfully come back from down 3-0. The Boston Red Sox were down by that mark to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. They went on to win four straight, won the World Series, and broke the team's almost century-long dry spell. The Houston Astros almost accomplished the same feat in 2020, but lost in game seven to the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Has an NHL team ever come back from down 3-0?

The Edmonton Oilers are in the same boat as the Mavericks, down 3-0 to the Florida Panthers. In hockey, though, a 3-0 comeback has been achieved on several occasions, although only once in the Stanley Cup Finals. Back in 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs won four straight to beat the Detroit Red Wings. It also happened in 1975 when the Islanders beat the Penguins in the quarterfinals, in 2010 when the Flyers beat the Bruins, and in 2014 when the Kings beat the Sharks.

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Has an NBA team ever come back from down 3-0?

The short answer is no. While the feat has been achieved at least once in baseball and hockey, it has yet to happen in the NBA. Several teams have come close before ultimately losing in game seven. So far, no team has been able to win four straight games after losing three in a row.

That makes sense on paper, given that basketball is a sport where the better team is usually able to win every individual game. Baseball is much flukier, and hockey is so wild that it's almost in a category by itself.

If you're rooting for the Mavericks or the Oilers, your best hope is a miracle. But if you're an Oilers fan, at least there's a little bit of established history to fall back on. For those who love the Mavericks, the only thing they can hope for is that this team is able to make history.

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