Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking LeBron James’ Game 7s

by Rob Joyce

May 01, 2018 - 1:47 pm

Add another line to the ever-growing historic resume of LeBron James. On Sunday the future Hall of Famer continued his dominance in Game 7, lighting up the Pacers for 45 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals — while overcoming leg cramps in the second half – in a 105-101 victory to advance to the second round.

The victory improves James’ record to 5-2 all-time in Game 7s, where he averages an NBA-best 35 points per game, along with nine rebounds and five assists. For comparison’s sake, Michael Jordan averaged 33.7 points, 7.7 boards and 7.0 assists in his three career winner-take-all affairs, going 2-1. As LeBron and the Cavs get set for the Raptors, we’re here to rank his Game 7 performances from worst to best:

7) 2006 Eastern Conference semifinals:

His first Game 7, LeBron finished with 27 points on 11-of-24 shooting in a 79-61 loss to the Pistons. The second half was rough, as he went just 1-for-9 after halftime. It was an ugly night for Cleveland as a whole, with Larry Hughes (10 points) the only other double-figure scorer. The Cavs shot 31 percent for the game and went just 1-for-12 from three.

6) 2012 Eastern Conference finals:

Following up a 45-point, 15-rebound effort to stave off elimination in Game 6, James led the Heat to the Finals with a 31-point effort in Game 7 to upend the Celtics. It wasn’t his best shooting night, finishing 9-of-21 from the field, but he added 12 rebounds and a couple of assists in what ultimately became a championship season in Miami.

5) 2013 Eastern Conference finals:

Sunday wasn’t the first time the Pacers felt the wrath of “Game 7 LeBron”. The first game in 2013, when James was wildly efficient in a 99-76 Heat victory. LeBron finished with 32 points on just 8-of-17 shooting, making 15-of-16 free throws. Dwyane Wade’s 27 helped Miami overcome sub-40 percent shooting overall, as Miami advanced to the finals and ultimately won a second straight title.

4) 2018 Eastern Conference quarterfinals:

Most players by Year 15 are role players, or at least a shell of their former selves. Not so for James, whose stat-stuffer on Sunday capped a monstrous series for the Cavs: 34.4 points on 55 percent shooting, 10.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists in 41.1 minutes. Game 7 was merely par for the course.

3) 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals:

If Cleveland had found a way to win, this would likely top the list. Alas, James’ effort in Boston came in a 97-92 loss to the Celtics. It quickly became the LeBron vs. Paul Pierce showdown, with the two future Hall of Famers trading blows all afternoon. Pierce finished with 41 points to James’ 45, with Pierce hitting a pair of free throws late to ice the game. Afterwards, Celtics’ executive Danny Ainge called the game “an epic battle”, and LeBron said it would “go down in history”.

2) 2016 NBA Finals:

Statistically it wasn’t James’ best shooting night, making just 9-of-24 field goal attempts. History won’t remember that one bit, as the King’s 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists puts him with Jerry West and James Worthy as the only players with triple-doubles in an NBA Finals Game 7. Of course, his Cavaliers ended Cleveland’s championship drought, capping a 3-1 series comeback with a 93-89 victory. Not to mention, this game gave us the play of LeBron’s career, his block of Andre Iguodala with 1:50 to go that will live on forever.

1) 2013 NBA Finals:

Only five Heat players scored against the Spurs, but it didn’t matter. LeBron shot 12-of-23 from the field, made five of 10 threes, and went 8-for-8 from the free throw line, finishing with 37 points. He added 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals, helping Miami bounce San Antonio 95-88. With those 37 points, he tied Tommy Heinsohn’s record for most points in a Finals series, with 177.