clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

LeBron James is still really, really, really goddamn good in elimination games

New, comments

James has now been in this 23 times. Never doubt him.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Five Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

LeBron James has played in 23 career elimination game, according to Basketball-Reference, with a win against the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ conference finals series as his most recent. On Friday night, he’ll play No. 24 against Golden State.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, LeBron’s really good in these situations.

James has now won 14 of the 23 elimination games he’s played, most famously mounting a comeback down 3-1 in the finals against the Golden State Warriors and their unanimous MVP Stephen Curry in 2016. His efficiency has been up-and-down, but what we know is that Possible Elimination James is a much different beast than the already explosive Playoff James.

Celtics fans were right to be worried heading into Game 7, because The King took every opportunity he wants to dismantle his opponent. It’s been eight years since LeBron’s missed the finals, and he’s clearly not ready to concede now.

He’s been here before.

Here’s how LeBron’s team’s elimination games have ended (wins in italics)

  • 2006, Pistons beat Cavs in Game 7, Conference semis
  • 2007, Spurs beat Cavs in Game 7, Finals
  • 2008, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 6, Conference semis
  • 2008, Celtics beat Cavs in Game 7, Conference semis
  • 2009, Cavs beat Magic in Game 6, Conference finals
  • 2009, Magic beat Cavs in Game 7, Conference finals
  • 2010, Celtics beat Cavs in Game 6, Conference semis
  • 2011, Mavs beat Heat in Game 6, Finals
  • 2012, Heat beat Celtics in Game 6, Conference finals
  • 2012, Heat beat Celtics in Game 7, Conference finals
  • 2013, Heat beat Pacers in Game 7, Conference finals
  • 2013, Heat beat Spurs in Game 6, Finals
  • 2013, Heat beat Spurs in Game 6, Finals
  • 2014, Spurs beat Heat in Game 5, Finals
  • 2015, Warriors beat Cavs in Game 6, Finals
  • 2016, Cavs beat Warriors in Game 5, Finals
  • 2016, Cavs beat Warriors in Game 6, Finals
  • 2016, Cavs beat Warriors in Game 7, Finals
  • 2017, Cavs beat Warriors in Game 4, Finals
  • 2017, Warriors beat Cavs in Game 5, Finals
  • 2018, Cavs beat Pacers in Game 7, First Round
  • 2018, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 6, Conference Finals
  • 2018, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 7, Conference Finals

Here’s a look at each of LeBron’s stats in elimination games

LeBron averages 34.1 points, 11 rebounds, seven and assists, two steals and a block in elimination games. This is his production in each individual game.

LeBron’s elimination games

Date Tm Opp MP FG FGA PTS REB AST STL BLK
Date Tm Opp MP FG FGA PTS REB AST STL BLK
2006-05-21 CLE DET 47 11 24 27 8 2 1 0
2007-06-14 CLE SAS 46 10 30 24 6 10 0 0
2008-05-16 CLE BOS 47 9 23 32 12 6 2 1
2008-05-18 CLE BOS 47 14 29 45 5 6 2 0
2009-05-28 CLE ORL 46 11 24 37 14 12 1 1
2009-05-30 CLE ORL 45 8 20 25 7 7 0 1
2010-05-13 CLE BOS 46 8 21 27 19 10 3 1
2011-06-12 MIA DAL 40 9 15 21 4 6 1 1
2012-06-07 MIA BOS 45 19 26 45 15 5 0 0
2012-06-09 MIA BOS 48 9 21 31 12 2 1 1
2013-06-03 MIA IND 41 8 17 32 8 4 2 1
2013-06-18 MIA SAS 50 11 26 32 10 11 3 1
2013-06-20 MIA SAS 45 12 23 37 12 4 2 0
2014-06-15 MIA SAS 41 10 21 31 10 5 0 2
2015-06-16 CLE GSW 47 13 33 32 18 9 2 0
2016-06-13 CLE GSW 43 16 30 41 16 7 3 3
2016-06-16 CLE GSW 43 16 27 41 8 11 4 3
2016-06-19 CLE GSW 47 9 24 27 11 11 2 3
2017-06-09 CLE GSW 41 11 22 31 10 11 1 0
2017-06-12 CLE GSW 46 19 30 41 13 8 2 1
2018-04-29 CLE IND 43 16 25 45 9 7 4 0
2018-05-25 CLE BOS 46 17 33 46 11 9 3 1
2018-05-27 CLE BOS 48 12 24 35 15 9 0 2
Totals W-L: 14-9 45.1 12.1 24.7 34.1 11.0 7.5 1.7 1.0
Source: Basketball-Reference

If LeBron goes down, he goes down swinging

For his entire career, James averages 21 shots per game in the postseason, which is of course the lion’s share that any superstar of his caliber should be taking. With the season on the line, he’s known to take over, averaging nearly 25.

James has taken more than his average number of shots in 18 of 23 elimination games, firing 30 or more in five. Teams should be terrified when James’ back is against the wall, because that’s when he’s his most aggressive self.

That doesn’t mean LeBron steps away from his role as an elite passer. He still averages slightly more than his career benchmark seven assists per game at 7.5. He posted double-digit numbers in seven games.

The ball is always in LeBron’s hands when a year’s work is at stake.

LeBron hardly leaves the court, either

James averages 45 minutes on the court in his 21 elimination games, and has logged that or more in 14 of them.

If he can go all 48, he will. He proved that in a Game 7 Heat win over the Celtics in 2012, and again in leading the Cavaliers to victory over the Celtics in Game 7 in 2018.

LeBron’s body has show over the years that it has few limits.