Is there anything better than a game 7 in a highly competitive, no-holds-barred playoff series between two teams with contrasting styles? Well maybe if it’s a conference finals finale, and the teams played each other tough last year and have developed a real chemistry with each other. Thank the basketball Jesus for nights like tonight! Or at least the anticipation for night’s like tonight.
I’ve been doing some research on LeBron James in elimination games, knockout games, and game 7s. Here’s the basics:
He’s been in 8 games in which his team faced elimination with a 2-6 record, both wins coming last year against Boston in games 6 and 7, games in which LeBron was unbelievably spectacular. LeBron’s basic stats in elimination games for his career are:
45Min, 30.6Pts 55.6%TS, 9.5Rbd, 6Ast, 1Stl, 0.5Blk, 4.5Tov
LeBron has been in 23 knock-out games with a 16-7 record, i.e. games in which his team had the opportunity to eliminate the opponent, Cleveland and Miami have won nearly 70% of the time. LeBron’s basic stats in knock-out games for his career are:
44Min, 28.2Pts 58.2%TS, 9Rbd, 6.6Ast, 1.7Stl, 0.8Blk, 3.3Tov
Not surprisingly, LeBron is more efficient in knock-out games and maybe trying to do too much in games when his team faces elimination (probably because he has to do too much). I ran the same number for Michael Jordan and found the same trend.
Strictly speaking of game 7s, LeBron has played in 3 total, and he has a 1-2 record, losing in Cleveland against Detroit in 2006 and to Boston in 2008 and winning in Boston in 2012. Interestingly, he avenged both losses. He crushed Detroit in game 6 in 2007 to advance to the Finals. Boston on the other hand defeated James’s Cavaliers again in 2010 before LeBron extracted revenge as a member of the Heat in 2011 and 2012. Basic game 7 stats are:
47Min, 34.3Pts 56.2%TS, 8.3Rbd, 3.3Ast, 1.3Stl, 0.3Blk, 2.7Tov
In game 7s, LeBron’s shooting and assists are not great by his usual outstanding standards, but his low turnovers and high point totals are a very good thing, a Jordan-esque, Nowitzki-esque thing.
Overall, I’d predict a Miami win tonight. This Pacers team has never been in a game 7 before (that I can recall); the Heat have home court advantage; James has a history of performing at a very high level in knock-out games in general and game 7s in particular, and for the Heat a 7 game elimination in the conference finals is a horrendous failure, whereas a 7 game elimination in the conference finals is a successful season to build upon for the younger Pacers who had not previously advanced beyond round two.
Then again, you never know. If the Heat go cold from the outside again, Indiana’s defense may be too much for them to overcome.
Either way, one more great game between these two teams is all we can ask for as fans. Go game 7!
Tags: 2013 NBA Playoffs, cleveland cavaliers, Eastern Conference Finals, elimination games, game 7, Indiana Pacers, knock out games, knockout games, lebron james, Miami Heat, Michael Jordan, NBA, playoff series, sports