LeBron James's 3rd NBA Finals triple-double comes in Heat defeat to Spurs

USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James recorded his third career triple-double in the NBA Finals on Thursday night during Miami's Game 1 loss to the Spurs. Where does his performance rank?

LeBron James did something extraordinary in Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals, but he's been so dominant recently that his amazing performances are starting to feel a bit ordinary. He posted 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists and moved up the all-time NBA list for playoff triple-doubles, and yet the 92-88 comeback win by Tony Parker and the Spurs shifted the headlines away from his historic game. Here's a closer look at the context of James's accomplishment.

First and foremost, the reigning league MVP is writing his name into the history books for NBA Finals accomplishments. LeBron finished off the Oklahoma City Thunder last season with a triple-double performance (26 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists) in Game 5 of the 2012 Finals, and he joined Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson as the only players in NBA history to record a triple-double in consecutive NBA Finals games, per @NBAHistory on Twitter. He is now second on the list for triple-doubles in NBA Finals history, via ESPN Stats & Information:

Most Triple-Doubles - NBA Finals History
Magic Johnson 8
LeBron James 3
Walt Frazier 2
Bob Cousy 2
Bill Russell 2
Larry Bird 2
Wilt Chamberlain 2

If it feels like someone is missing from this list, it's because someone is:

Then again, MJ's clutch narrative is spotless, while LeBron's is not.

For more coverage of the Spurs and Heat, visit: Pounding the Rock Hot Hot Hoops

Lazy (and erroneous) clutch narratives aside, James is now 7-3 in NBA playoff games when he has posted a triple-double, according to Basketball-Reference. He moved past Chamberlain on the all-time list for playoff triple-doubles and is now tied for third with Rajon Rondo and Larry Bird with 10 such performances, behind only Jason Kidd (11) and Magic Johnson (30). If you don't believe LeBron belongs in the conversation of the best playoff performers in the history of the game, you're simply wrong (via ESPN Stats & Information):

Most Career Postseason Triple-Doubles - NBA History
Magic Johnson 30
Jason Kidd 11
LeBron James 10
Rajon Rondo 10
Larry Bird 10
Wilt Chamberlain 9
Oscar Robertson 8

The Game 1 showing by James was hardly his best work, despite the gaudy stats. His 18 points on 7-16 shooting on Thursday marked the second-worst scoring game among his 10 career playoff triple-doubles -- only his Game 5 triple-double in the Finals against the Mavericks (17 points on 8-19 shooting, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) came on worse efficiency.

For reference, LeBron leads all players with two triple-doubles in the 2013 postseason -- Paul George and Pau Gasol each recorded one -- and he has averaged 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game in the playoffs this year. Those averages are down from his career playoff numbers of 28.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 7.0 assists. There's no reason to think LeBron can't do something even more amazing during the remainder of the 2013 NBA Finals. Heck, he may have to if the Miami Heat want to knock off Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and the Spurs.

Regardless of how things turn out for the Heat, don't sleep on LeBron's dominance.

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