Throughout its history, the NBA has provided no shortage of thrilling games where teams have overcome huge deficits to pull off improbable comebacks. The intensity and drama reaches a fever pitch when a team rallies from far behind for an unforgettable victory. Let’s relive some of the greatest comebacks ever in the NBA.

Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers, Game 4, 2008 NBA Finals

The Scene: 2008 marked a renewal of the iconic Celtics-Lakers rivalry. Boston entered Game 4 with a 2-1 Finals lead. But L.A. dominated the first half to go up by 24 points early in the 3rd quarter.

The Comeback: Fueled by the home crowd, the Celtics began to chip away at the lead. Key baskets from Eddie House and James Posey helped the comeback. Paul Pierce battled through injury to lead the charge. Boston pulled within 2 points to start the 4th quarter. With under a minute left, P.J. Brown hit a clutch jumper to give the Celtics their first lead since the opening minutes. Boston stunned LA to win 97-91 and take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Key Stats: Largest Finals comeback at the time in over 40 years. Pierce finished with 20 points in the second half after scoring just 2 in the first.

Utah Jazz vs Portland Trail Blazers, Game 6, 1999 Western Conference Semifinals

The Scene: The Jazz led 3-2 in this series, but Portland aimed to force Game 7. The Blazers dominated the first three quarters, leading by as much as 18 points late in the 3rd period.

The Comeback: Utah opened the 4th quarter on a 17-4 scoring run, capped by a go-ahead layup by John Stockton with just 41 seconds left. Portland missed their final shots as the Jazz completed the miraculous turnaround to clinch the series.

Key Stats: Utah outscored Portland 33-13 in the 4th quarter. Karl Malone hit the boards hard with 12 of his 23 rebounds in the final period.

Miami Heat vs New Orleans Hornets, 4th Quarter, March 2009 Regular Season

The Scene: During the 2008-09 season, the Heat visited the Hornets in a relatively unremarkable regular season contest between non-playoff teams. But the script flipped in wild fashion in the final period.

The Comeback: The underdog Heat found themselves down 17 points entering the 4th quarter. Then Miami shocked New Orleans by unleashing a 25-4 run, stealing the lead in under four minutes. Dwyane Wade scored 18 of his season-high 50 points in the 4th, willing Miami to an improbable comeback win.

Key Stats: The Heat scored 47 points in the 4th quarter alone, more than their totals for the 2nd and 3rd quarters combined.


Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings, Game 7, 2002 Western Conference Finals

The Scene: The top-seeded Kings were up 3-2 in the series and hosted Game 7, as they sought their first Finals berth since 1951. Sacramento controlled most of the contest and led by 24 points in the early 3rd quarter.

The Comeback: The Lakers answered with a 15-2 run to end the 3rd period, cutting the deficit to 14. Shaq and Kobe completely took over in the 4th, outscoring the Kings 29-13 to somehow force overtime. In OT, LA finally claimed the lead and held on for the epic comeback win.

Key Stats: Kobe finished with 30 points, 10 boards, and 7 assists. Shaq put up 35 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers Game 3, 2017 First Round

The Scene: The Cavs led 2-0 in this first round series during LeBron James’ second stint in Cleveland. In Game 3, Indy aimed to get back in the series and dominated from the opening tip. By halftime, they led by 26 points.

The Comeback: LeBron put the Cavs on his back, scoring 41 points to power an epic second half surge. James hit pull-up threes, soaring dunks and floaters during a 41-point half to erase the massive deficit. Cleveland outscored Indiana 40-23 in the final period for a wild 119-114 comeback win.

Key Stats: James scored or assisted on 73 points, the most in a playoff game in 20 years. The 26-point halftime deficit was the largest ever overcome in playoffs.

Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs, Game 6, 2017 Western Conference Semifinals

The Scene: The Rockets led 3-2 in this series and looked to close out Gregg Popovich’s Spurs on the road. But San Antonio raced out to a huge lead that ballooned to 25 points by the 3rd quarter.

The Comeback: Led by MVP-to-be James Harden, Houston suddenly caught fire late in the 3rd. The Rockets ripped off a 30-4 scoring avalanche, flipping the script to build their own double-digit lead in the 4th. Harden and Houston held on for the shocking comeback win.

Key Stats: Harden scored 12 points during the decisive 30-4 run on his way to 33 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Dallas Mavericks vs Portland Trail Blazers Game 4, 2002 Western Quarterfinals

The Scene: Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs trailed the Blazers 0-3 in this playoff series and faced elimination in Game 4. Portland looked to sweep Dallas after building a commanding lead.

The Comeback: Led by Dirk’s heroics, Dallas engineered a frantic late rally. Nowitzki scored 17 of his 31 points in the 4th quarter. The Mavs also ramped up the defensive pressure to erase the big deficit. Dirk hit clutch free throws with seconds left to shock Portland in overtime.

Key Stats: Dallas outscored Portland 35-10 in the final period, marking the biggest 4th quarter comeback in playoff history at the time.

Chicago Bulls vs New York Knicks Game 5, 1993 Eastern Conference Finals

The Scene: MJ’s Bulls led the series 3-1, but the Knicks aimed to stave off elimination on their home floor. New York dominated from the opening tip and led by 21 in the 2nd quarter.

The Comeback: The Bulls ripped off a 17-2 scoring run spanning the 2nd and 3rd quarters to cut the deficit to 6 points. Jordan took over in the 4th quarter with 15 points. Chicago pulled ahead midway through the final period and Scottie Pippen shut down the Knicks for the epic win.

Key Stats: Jordan finished with a game-high 29 points, while Pippen had 27 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz Game 5, 2018 First Round

The Scene: Led by Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the Thunder entered this game tied 2-2 with the Jazz. But OKC started ice-cold from the field, missing 15 three-pointers in a row at one point. Utah capitalized to take a 25-point lead.

The Comeback: Shockingly, OKC suddenly caught fire coming out of halftime. The Thunder hit seven three-pointers in a three-minute stretch, capped by Westbrook’s half-court three-pointer to end the 3rd. OKC kept up the barrage in the 4th, completing the epic comeback to seize control of the series.

Key Stats: The Thunder outscored the Jazz 58-30 in the second half. Westbrook’s halfcourt missile was just one of his six made threes in the game.

Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers, Game 4, 1981 Eastern Conference Finals

The Scene: In Game 4 of this series tied 1-1, the 76ers decimated the Celtics in the first half to build a commanding lead. Philadelphia entered the 4th quarter still up 18 points.

The Comeback: But Boston wasn’t done yet. The Celtics went on a rampage in the final period, outscoring Philly 42-17 for a series-shifting comeback win. Cedric Maxwell led the way with 28 points and 14 rebounds.

Key Stats: The Celtics’ 42 points in the 4th quarter marked the NBA playoff record at the time.Over 3,200 games are played each NBA season. On any given night, an exhilarating comeback can captivate fans. But only the most unbelievable rallies earn eternal legend status.