NBA playoffs 2022: Why the NBA is still waiting for its first 3-0 comeback

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With his Toronto Raptors facing elimination and the daunting task of coming back from a 3-0 deficit in their first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers, coach Nick Nurse made the case for his team to accomplish something no team in NBA history has done.

"I think it's a heckuva challenge, and somebody's got to do it," Nurse told reporters last month. "If it gets to 3-1, it's not 3-0 anymore. And 3-1's been done."

The NBA is an outlier. Four NHL teams have rallied from down 3-0 to win, most recently the Los Angeles Kings en route to the 2014 Stanley Cup, while MLB's Boston Red Sox famously completed a comeback from down 3-0 to the rival New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series on the way to their first World Series title since 1918.

It turned out Nurse's Raptors wouldn't be the team to change that. After staving off elimination for two games, they were blown out in the second half of Game 6 at home. Now, the Dallas Mavericks are in the same position in the Western Conference finals after losing Game 3 to the Golden State Warriors at home.

Let's examine why no NBA team has overcome a 3-0 deficit and why it's bound to happen eventually.

The history of teams down 3-0

Before this season, 143 teams in NBA history had fallen behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series. Add the Raptors, Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets, who all lost in the first round, and teams facing this deficit are 0-146 all time.