We all love a great comeback story and witnessing seemingly impossible sequences of events unfold before our eyes. In sports, nothing is more against the odds than coming back in a best of 7 series when trailing three games to none. The numbers don’t lie. In more than a century of pro sports in North America only 4 teams have ever accomplished the task – three in hockey, one in baseball, and none in the NBA. So yeah, it’s rare.
The 3-1 comeback is also a rare treat for sports fans. Hockey has seen the feat accomplished 23 times, baseball 10 times, and basketball just 8. What is interesting to note from the historical data is that although basketball has had the fewest comebacks, the teams who do so have had the most subsequent success in the following rounds. They seem to carry the momentum forward.
For NHL teams, the majority of 3-1 comeback wins in a series tend to leave the players emotionally and physically spent. The majority have gone on to lose in the next round. That said, a big comeback does sometimes give the team a kickstart (or in some cases a wake-up call) that carries them to the Stanley Cup Finals.
4 of 6 baseball teams who have recovered from 3-1 holes in League Championships used the momentum to win the World Series. The Red Sox, who find themselves in the record books 3 times (twice in the last decade) are the only team to pull off the 0-3 comeback.
In 1985 the Royals pulled off the impossible, coming back from 3-1 series deficits twice in the same playoffs on their way to the World Series victory.
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