“Do-or-go home” Game Seven allures


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The 2020 NBA playoffs had been filled with tight series that were played to the last game. This playoffs featured four of such series, namely Denver-Utah, West first round; Houston-Oklahoma City, West first round; Boston-Toronto, East semis, Denver-Los Angeles Clippers, West semis.

Here are some of the allures that Game Seven NBA playoffs provided this year and in the past:

(1) The four game sevens this year are second most in playoff history. The most game sevens were played during the 1994, 2014, 2016 playoffs at five each.

(2) The Nuggets became the first team in NBA history to force multiple Game 7s and win them after being down 1-3 in a single playoff run. That occurred in the First Round when they came back against the Utah Jazz and in the Semis when they overcame the Los Angeles Clippers.

The series against the Clippers is the fourth straight Nuggets playoff series to go to 7 games.

The 2016 Golden State Warriors were in a somewhat opposite predicament. They forced a West Finals Game 7 against the Oklahoma City Thunder and overcame a 1-3 deficit to advance but lost a Game 7 forced by eventual champion Cleveland after leading 3-1 in the NBA finals.

(3) 1988 LA Lakers played in the most game 7s in one season and is the most successful by winning all three series. (They beat the Utah Jazz in the West Semifinals,  Dallas Mavericks in the West Finals and winning in the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons).

The 1994 Knicks also played in three game sevens but fell short of winning the title. They won in the East Semifinals against the Chicago Bulls, the East Finals against the Indiana Pacers but couldn’t solve the Rockets in the NBA Finals.

Incidentally, 1994 Rockets (winning in the Conference Finals against the Suns and winning in the NBA Finals against the Knicks) and 1994 Knicks were involve in all but one of the game sevens played during that year. The Utah Jazz defeated the Denver Nuggets in the West semifinals in the only other series that went to game seven.

(4) The Boston Celtics have played in 33 game sevens, the most by any team. They won 24 of them for a 72.7% success rate, the best by any team who has played more than one game. The Minneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers are a distant second with 24, winning 16 of them.

The Milwaukee Bucks got involved in 10 game sevens and won just two of them, the lowest for all teams with at least 10 games.

(5) The Rockets hit 17 three point shots in Game 7 of their first round series. That ties the Golden State Warriors for the most ever in a Game 7. The Warriors also hit 17 during the 2016 Western Conference finals where they came back from a 1-3 deficit to advance to the finals.

(6) Nikola Jokic recorded 16 points, 22 rebounds, 13 assists in Game 7 against the Clippers. According to NBA.com, that made him the first player in NBA playoff history to record a triple-double that featured over 20 rebounds in a Game 7. ESPN also said only Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan had a 20-rebound triple-double in a playoff game since the NBA-ABA merger.

According to StatMuse, Jokic also has two career Game 7 triple-doubles. No other player has more in NBA history.

(7) According to talkbasketball.net, Jamal Murray is the second youngest player in NBA history to score over 40 points in a Game 7, trailing only LeBron James. The record holders are: LeBron James, 2008 (23 years and 140 days); Murray, 2020 (23-205); Oscar Robertson, 1963 (24-137); Allen Iverson, 2001 (25-361).

(8) Former Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers own the unpleasant record of having the most Game 7 losses, now ballooning to eight. Each of the other NBA coaches in playoff history that coached a game seven have not lost more than five.

By: Armando M. Bolislis