WhoWins(tm) Best-of-7



The master list: Winner and loser of each and every best-of-7 MLB, NBA, and NHL playoff series from 1905 (the year of the first best-of-7 series).

leading, 1-game-nil
leading, 2-games-nil
leading, 3-games-nil
leading, 2-games-1
leading, 3-games-1
leading, 3-games-2

Surmounting the 3-games-nil deficit.

The ultimate ignominy: Sweeps during which the swept team never, ever leads.

Irrespective of Game 1 site
Game 1 played at home
Game 1 played on road
Irrespective of Game 1 site
Game 1 played at home
Game 1 played on road
Irrespective of Game 1 site
Game 1 played at home
Game 1 played on road
Irrespective of Game 1 site
Game 1 played at home
Game 1 played on road
Irrespective of Game 1 site
Game 1 played at home
Game 1 played on road

All | Home Games | Road Games
All | Home Games | Road Games
All | Home Games | Road Games
All | Home Games | Road Games
All | Home Games | Road Games

MLB: all runs for/against
NBA: all points for/against
NHL: all goals for/against

BEST-OF-7 MLB, NBA, NHL Series and Game Scoring Records

Societies, books, and other resources.

Articles on best-of-7 series phenomena.

Frequently-asked questions.

Related search terms from popular search engines.

Mathematical formulae for best-of-7 probability computations.

Powered by EarthLink®.
Feedback welcomed at feedback@whowins.com.
Copyright © 2012 WhoWins™.
All rights reserved.
Terms of usage.


The MLB, NBA, and NHL best-of-7 playoff series in 2002 were such that the paths to the respective championships were fraught with mettle-testing. The 2002 NHL champion Detroit Red Wings, the 2002 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, and the 2002 MLB champion Anaheim Angels each had to surmount adversity to claim their respective titles. Other teams involved in these 2002 playoff series also fought noteworthy battles to win games that were generally considered lost. WhoWins™ is pleased to be able to recognize those teams that proved their mettle during the twenty-five MLB, NBA, and NHL best-of-7 playoff series of 2002.


The 2001 recognition of tested mettle featured the comeback of the Los Angeles Kings, which surmounted a 2-games-nil series deficit and a 3-goals-nil deficit late in Game 4 to win MLB/NBA/NHL best-of-7 series 828 (a 2001 NHL Preliminary-round series). The Kings' victims in that series were the Detroit Red Wings, and it is perhaps ironic that just as the Kings trailed the Red Wings 2-games-nil in series 828, so it was that the Red Wings trailed the Vancouver Canucks 2-games-nil in best-of-7 series 852 (a 2002 NHL Preliminary-round series). In the 441 NHL best-of-7 playoff series from 1939 through 2001, when a team had lost both Games 1 and 2 at home, its series record was 13-38 (.255) and its historical probability of winning the series in six games was 7 out of 51 (.137). Yet win series 852 in six games the Red Wings did, taking Games 3-6 and then winning best-of-7 series 858 (2002 NHL Quarterfinals) and 861 (Semifinals) to meet the Carolina Hurricanes in best-of-7 series 862 -- the 2002 NHL Stanley Cup Finals. Of the 25 MLB, NBA, and NHL best-of-7 playoff series in 2002, series 852 was the only series in which a team rebounded from a two-game deficit to emerge victorious. Carolina surprised Detroit 3-goals-2 in overtime to take Game 1 of the 2002 Finals, and in the waning minutes of Game 3 in Carolina, the favored Red Wings trailed the Hurricanes 2-goals-1 and were headed for a 2-games-1 series deficit. In the 2455 NHL best-of-7 playoff games from 1939 through 2001, when the road team (Detroit) trailed by one goal with only 1:15 left in regulation, its game record was 10-378 (.026). Detroit tied the game with 1:14 left in regulation, and 14:47 into the third overtime won the game 3-goals-2 to take a 2-games-1 lead in a series it would win 4-games-1 to take the 2002 NHL championship.

The NHL introduced the best-of-7 Preliminary round (Conference Quaterfinals) for the 1987 playoffs. For each NHL champion since that introduction, the following table illustrates how many times during its four best-of-7 playoff rounds that the eventual champion faced series deficits of 1-games-nil, 2-games-nil, 3-games-nil, 2-games-1, 3-games-1, and 3-games-2. It is evident from this table that the 2002 Detroit Red Wings had to surmount more series deficits than any NHL champion since the two-year reign of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 1990s.

NHL Champion 0-1 0-2 0-3 1-2 1-3 2-3 Total
1991-Pittsburgh 4 1 0 2 0 1 8
1992-Pittsburgh 1 1 0 2 1 1 6
2002-Detroit 2 1 0 1 0 1 5
1990-Edmonton 1 0 0 2 1 1 5
2000-New Jersey 1 0 0 1 1 1 4
1993-Montreal 2 1 0 1 0 0 4
1999-Dallas 2 0 0 0 0 1 3
1994-N.Y. Rangers 2 0 0 0 0 1 3
2001-Colorado 1 0 0 0 0 1 2
1998-Detroit 1 0 0 1 0 0 2
1997-Detroit 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
1996-Colorado 1 0 0 1 0 0 2
1989-Calgary 1 0 0 1 0 0 2
1987-Edmonton 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
1995-New Jersey 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
1988-Edmonton 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

But for all of the mettle shown by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2002 NHL playoffs, those Carolina Hurricanes also endured a significant mettle-testing en route to the 2002 NHL Stanley Cup Finals. Entering the 2002 playoffs, the Hurricanes (and their predecessor franchise, the old Hartford Whalers) owned a woeful 0-9 series record in best-of-7 NHL playoff competition, and not much was expected from them in best-of-7 series 850 against the 2000 NHL champion and 2001 NHL finalist New Jersey Devils. With an inferior regular-season record to that of the Devils, but with home-ice advantage courtesy of their division championship, the Hurricanes took a 2-games-nil lead in Carolina, but the Devils evened the series 2-games-all with two wins in New Jersey. Late in Game 5, the Devils led 2-goals-1, and it looked as though the Devils would return to New Jersey with a 3-games-2 lead and a chance to end the series 4-games-2 on home ice. In the 2455 NHL best-of-7 playoff games from 1939 through 2001, when a team such as the Hurricanes trailed by a goal with only 1:30 left in regulation, its game record was 27-697 (.037). But Carolina tied the game with 1:29 left, and won it 8:16 into the first overtime 3-goals-2 to capture the 3-games-2 series lead -- Carolina then won Game 6 in New Jersey to win series 850 by a 4-games-2 tally.

Having topped the Devils in series 850, Carolina advanced to the 2002 NHL Quarterfinals (Eastern Conference Semifinals) to face the Montreal Canadiens, which after a considerable playoff absence had just defeated Boston to win the 70th best-of-7 series for that venerable franchise. Carolina and Montreal met in best-of-7 series 856, and in Game 4, the Canadiens held both a 2-games-1 series lead and a 3-goals-nil lead in the third period on the hallowed Montreal ice. In the 2455 best-of-7 NHL playoff games from 1939 through 2001, when the road team (Carolina) trailed by three goals with 16:04 left in regulation, its game record was 1-208 (.005) -- only the St. Louis Blues had won a best-of-7 playoff game on the road in such a situation, over Los Angeles in Game 3 of series 755 (in the 1998 NHL Preliminary round). Carolina trailed 3-goals-1 after getting on the scoreboard with 16:03 left in regulation. In those 2455 games, when the road team (Carolina) trailed by two with 7:18 left in regulation, its game record was 2-335 (.006). Carolina narrowed the Canadiens' lead to 3-goals-2 upon scoring with 7:17 left in regulation. In the aforementioned 2455 games, when the road team (Carolina) trailed by one with 42 seconds left in regulation, its game record was 5-363 (.014). Once again, Carolina scored to tie the game 3-goals-all with 41 seconds left in regulation, and tied the series 2-games-all with a goal 3:14 into the first overtime for a 4-goals-3 victory in Game 4. Clearly heartened by this come-from-behind victory, Carolina posted convincing 5-goals-1 Game 5 and 8-goals-2 Game 6 wins to oust Montreal 4-games-2, en route to their 2002 NHL Finals berth vs. Detroit.


During the 2001 NBA playoffs, only in three of 37 total best-of-7 games did the team that was trailing after three quarters come back to win the game. During the 2002 NBA playoffs in a best-of-7 format -- and over the Memorial Day weekend in particular -- the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers helped to compensate for what was lacking in 2001. In the 2002 NBA Semifinals (Conference Finals), MLB/NBA/NHL best-of-7 series 867 pitted the Celtics against the New Jersey Nets in the Eastern Conference Finals, while series 868 pitted the Lakers against the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference Finals. In series 867, New Jersey scored home-court seven-point victories in Games 1 and 2 to take a 2-games-nil lead over Boston. In Game 3, the Nets led in Boston by 21 points after the third quarter, and considering that the largest previous end-3Q deficit overcome for an NBA best-of-7 playoff victory was 18 points (in the 1994 NBA Quarterfinals, by the Phoenix Suns in Game 2 of best-of-7 series 668 in Houston), some might have been thinking "sweep" for the Nets. But the Celtics outscored the Nets 41-16 in the fourth quarter to win the game 94-pts-90 and reduce their series deficit to 2-games-1. The Boston comeback was unprecedented in NBA best-of-7 playoff series action: In the 1614 best-of-7 NBA playoff games from 1947 through 2001, when a team trailed by 19 or more points after three quarters, its game record was 0-171 (.000). Unfortunately for the Celtics, New Jersey won series 867 by a 4-games-2 margin, but the series loss does not diminish the magnitude of the series 867 Game 3 comeback by the Boston Celtics. It should also be noted that, in series 867 Game 3, the Celtics also trailed by 20 points at halftime. In those 1614 NBA playoff games, teams down 20 at the half had an 0-15 game record through 2001, so the Celtics accomplished an unprecedented halftime comeback in the same game as their unprecedented 3Q comeback.

Best-of-7 series 868 was an electrifying battle between the Lakers and Kings. Swept by the Lakers in best-of-7 series 841 (the 2001 NBA Quarterfinals), the Kings owned home-court advantage for series 868 vs. the Lakers, and the teams split the first two games in Sacramento. In Game 3 in Los Angeles, Sacramento ran up a 23-point lead after three quarters, and won the game 103-pts-90 on the road to hand the Lakers their first 2-games-1 deficit in a best-of-7 playoff series since their NBA title reign had begun in 2000. The Kings' momentum on Los Angeles' court carried into Game 4, with Sacramento taking a 40-pts-20 lead after one quarter. But the Lakers whittled the Sacramento lead to 14 points after 2Q, 7 after 3Q, and, on a dramatic last-second shot, won the game 100-pts-99 to tie series 868 at 2-games-all. In the 1614 best-of-7 NBA playoff games from 1947 through 2001, when a team trailed by 20 or more points after one quarter, its game record was 1-7 (.125), with the sole victory having been recorded also by the Los Angeles Lakers (in series 544 Game 4, in Seattle during the 1989 NBA Quarterfinals). Sacramento would win series 868 Game 5 by one point at home to take a 3-games-2 series lead, but the Lakers would win Game 6 by four points at home to force a decisive Game 7 in Sacramento. In the 281 best-of-7 NBA playoff series from 1947 through 2001, the Game 7 road team record was only 14-67 (.173), yet the Lakers prevailed in overtime, 112-pts-106, to win series 868 and advance to the 2002 NBA Finals.

After so much comeback drama in the two 2002 NBA Semifinals series, one might have expected the 2002 NBA Finals to be anticlimactic, and indeed, the Lakers not only swept the Nets in four straight games, but also led or were tied with them after fifteen of the sixteen quarters played in best-of-7 series 869. (The Nets' only lead was a seven-point lead after the first quarter of Game 4; this sole lead helped the Nets avoid suffering the first best-of-7 NBA pseudo-annihilation since the 1991 NBA Semifinals, when the Detroit Pistons not only lost four straight to the eventual NBA champion Chicago Bulls but also trailed the Bulls after all sixteen quarters of that MLB/NBA/NHL best-of-7 series 595.) But in contrast to the seven 2001 best-of-7 NBA playoff series, the 2002 edition offered considerably greater drama, especially during the NBA Semifinals (or Conference Finals) when few seemingly large end-quarter leads were actually safe.


In the 2002 MLB League Championship Series (Semifinals) and World Series (Finals), there were no multi-game deficits to overcome and no inordinate mismatches based on regular-season records. In MLB/NBA/NHL best-of-7 series 871 (the 2002 National League Championship Series) against the San Francisco Giants, the St. Louis Cardinals trailed during each and every Cardinal plate appearance in St. Louis, from the leadoff batter in the bottom of the first through the last batter in the bottom of the ninth -- the Cardinals have now failed to take a lead in (let alone win) five consecutive National League Championship Series games played in St. Louis, dating back to best-of-7 series 721 Game 5 in 1996. In best-of-7 series 870-872 (the American and National League Championship Series and World Series), home teams were 11-6, but in all six road-team victories, the latest that the road teams trailed was after two full innings. Home teams in 2002 best-of-7 playoffs enjoyed a game record of 4-0 when leading after 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 innings, 3-0 when ahead after 4.5 innings, 5-0 when leading after 5.0, 5.5, and 6.0 innings, 3-0 when ahead after 6.5 innings, 5-0 when up after 7.0 and 7.5 innings, and 10-0 when in the lead after 8.0 and 8.5 innings -- in series 870-872, once the fans in the ballpark were thrilled to a lead after 3.0 or more innings, they were never disappointed by a subsequent loss. Home leaders after 3.0 and subsequent innings became home winners; road winners were road leaders for most of those road victories.

But a dramatic exception to the general 2002 MLB trend was offered by the eventual champion Anaheim Angels, in Game 6 of best-of-7 series 872 -- the 2002 World Series. San Francisco led the series 3-games-2, and carried a daunting 5-runs-nil lead into the seventh-inning stretch of Game 6 in Anaheim. Responding with three runs in the bottom of both the seventh and eighth innings, Anaheim came back to achieve a mettle-forging 6-runs-5 home victory to tie series 872 at 3-games-all. The comeback was unprecedented in that, in 721 best-of-7 MLB playoff games from 1905 through 2001, home teams trailing by five runs after 6.5 innings had an 0-30 (.000) game record. In those 721 games, home or road teams trailing by five runs after 6.5 innings had a 1-49 (.020) record, with the eventual 1992 MLB champion Toronto Blue Jays accounting for the sole victory in best-of-7 series 623 Game 4 at Oakland, in the 1992 American League Championship Series. Anaheim won Game 7 to defeat San Francisco 4-games-3 in the 2002 World Series. There was, however, one precedent that was not broken in the 2002 World Series. Beginning with the 1982 MLB Finals and entering the 2002 MLB Finals, teams in a best-of-7 MLB/NBA/NHL Finals round that
1) played Game 1 on the road, and
2) trailed 2-games-1 after three games
had gone on to post an 0-28 series record. With the series 872 Games 6-7 losses by the San Francisco Giants, that record is now 0-29. It is almost as if the World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, and NBA Finals have been a best-of-3 affair over the past twenty years when the team lacking home court/field/ice advantage trails the series after Game 3 -- even by as little as one game. Little mettle, there.

01 April 2003