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Will there be a buzzer-beater in the NBA Playoffs?

Milwaukee Bucks Damian Lillard - The Canadian Press

Every year, the NBA Playoffs give players a chance to build their legacy. 

Championships are always the first thought that comes to mind. But only one team gets to lift the trophy at the end of each season, and legacy goes beyond wins and loses. 

It’s often a moment in time that can help define the way you think of a player. 

Think of Damian Lillard.

History will tell Lillard’s story in Portland as a failure, as least as far as titles go. Eleven seasons with the Trail Blazers, zero appearances in the NBA Finals. 

But those who watched and followed along on social media know that Dame made his mark on postseason history with an iconic moment on April 29, 2019. 

In Game 6 of the first round, Portland led the series 3-1 over Paul George and Oklahoma City Thunder. And that’s when Lillard pulled off one of the best buzzer-beaters in the sport’s history, drilling a stepback from way, way behind the three point line to send OKC home.

That buzzer-beater by Lillard was the first of two during the 2019 postseason, with Kawhi Leonard adding the second a few weeks later to send the Toronto Raptors past the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the second round.

And that’s what we’re here to speak about today. Buzzer-beaters. 

Our friends at FanDuel have priced up a market on how many we’ll see in the playoffs this year. 

But first, let’s look at how many buzzer-beaters we’ve seen in NBA postseason history. 



Since 1946, there have been 51 buzzer-beaters in the NBA Playoffs, according to Basketball Reference. 

While that number comes in well below one buzzer-beater yearly, 28 of the 51 have come since 2000.  

It's important to note that a buzzer-beater must be a game-winning shot that leaves the losing team no time to in bound a pass. 

Using the Kawhi example from earlier, if the shot fell with 0.1 left on the clock, that wouldn't count in this market, but since the clock was at 0:00 when the ball went through the  hoop it makes it an official buzzer-beater. 

Here is a look at the last 10 years. 


NBA Postseason Buzzer-Beaters since 2014

Year Total
2023 1
2022 1
2021 0
2020 4
2019 2
2018 2
2017 1
2016 0
2015 4
2014 2

The most buzzer-beaters in a single postseason is four which has happened just twice in 2020 and 2015. 

Here is a breakdown of how many times a buzzer-beater has happened in the NBA Playoffs.


Buzzer-Beaters in NBA Playoff History 

Amount  Total
0 42
1 24
2 8
3 1
4 2



While zero has more than doubled the other four combined, it’s worth noting that there has been a buzzer-beater in nine of the last 11 postseasons, and 36 of the 42 postseasons without a buzzer-beater came before 2002.



Now that we’ve reviewed the history of buzzer-beaters let’s examine FanDuel’s market for this year. 



Amount Odds
Zero +410
One: 164
Two:  245
Three:  570
Four : +980  

In the last 23 years, there have been eight postseasons with exactly one buzzer-beater. 

The same can also be said for the amount of playoffs with zero buzzer-beaters. 

Meanwhile, two has the second shortest odds and has cashed in six of the last 23. 

You have to go all the way back to 1997 to find a playoff that had exactly three. 

Finally, four comes in at +980, which has only happened twice in league history, both times in the last decade.