What percentage of NBA teams win a series after falling behind 2-0?

Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Five
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Five / Jason Miller/GettyImages

NBA seasons are always full of surprises. The young Orlando Magic already provided one when they secured the fifth seed in the East and made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2020. 

This team is well ahead of schedule, considering that almost all of its rotational players are 25 or younger, and Paolo Banchero is just in his second NBA season. Just making the playoffs was already a huge success, but now the Magic actually have the chance to win their first-round matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Cleveland seemingly lost the last game of the season on purpose to draw the Magic as their first matchup. After last season’s rough series against the New York Knicks, they needed a win, and Orlando apparently seemed like an easy target. The Magic are young, inexperienced, and often struggle offensively, so the Cavaliers’ thought process was not entirely flawed. 

Donovan Mitchell and company managed to win the first two games, in which neither team eclipsed the 100-point mark but then failed to take care of business. Back in Orlando, the Magic got rolling and embarrassed the Cavaliers twice in a row, fighting their way back from a 0-2 deficit to tie the series. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers responded with a close win back at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

What percentage of NBA teams win a series after falling behind 2-0?

While the Magic clearly looked like the better team in two of the last three games games, winning both by a huge margin, history is not in their favor. So far, in 425 total playoff series one team had at one point a 2-0 advantage. The percentage of teams on the wrong side of that equation coming back to win the series is only 7.3 percent. 

33 teams have done it to this point, most recently the 2023 Warriors, who beat the Sacramento Kings after suffering two losses to start the series. 

The Magic are in a good position to add their team to that list, however, as they already tied the series and are now only down 3-2. 

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

This may not apply to this season’s Orlando Magic team, but it is still an interesting question to answer. 

So far, only 13 teams have managed to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA playoffs. Most recently, the Denver Nuggets did it twice in 2020, coming back from 3-1 against the Utah Jazz and the LA Clippers. 

Has an NBA team ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs?

Coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the playoffs is already difficult enough, but teams have done it before. No team has, however, come back to win a series after falling down to 3-0.