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Lebron's Unprecedented Playoff Run, The Mistreatment of Russell Westbrook, and Everything Else About the NBA Finals

Posted on June 19, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Top 5 reasons why Lebron James is putting on one of the ten greatest playoff performances in the history of the NBA

1) When you add up his points, assists, and rebounds per game from these playoffs, you get 45.4. That number ranks behind only Michael Jordan (’89, ’90, ’91, ’92, ’93), Shaquille O’Neal (’00, ’01), Hakeem Olajuwon (’95), Tim Duncan (’03), Kareem Abdul Jabbar (’80), and Lebron James himself (’09) for all players who have played at least 13 games in a single postseason since the NBA-ABA merger back in 1977. So, the only players who have had more impressive playoff campaigns than Lebron in 2012 were Michael Jordan (the greatest player to ever live, in his prime), Shaq (when he outweighed every player in the league by 100 pounds and got away with fifteen offensive fouls per game), Hakeem, Duncan, and Kareem (all top 15 players of all-time, each in his best all-around season).

2) In the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston, Lebron became the only player except for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain to average 33 points per game, 11 rebounds per game, and 50% field goal shooting for an entire 7-game series.

3) In games 6 and 7 versus Boston, Lebron became the only player besides Bob Pettit, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal to have 30 points and 10 rebounds in both game 6 and game 7 victories in a single series.

4) In the three games so far this year in which the Miami Heat have been behind in a series with their backs against the wall (game 4 versus Indiana, game 6 versus Boston, game 2 versus Oklahoma City), Lebron James has dropped 40, 45, and 32 points, respectively!


Take a few minutes to delete any posts you’ve written on Facebook about Lebron not being clutch…

I’ll give you 30 more seconds…

Good! Let’s continue.


5) Lebron hasn’t had more than five assists in a game this entire month, and he hasn’t had a 10-assist game this whole postseason. He’s no longer in “facilitate the game and get everyone their shots” mode; he’s in “when we need a bucket, I’m getting it” mode, which is why it’s been over 30 days since he scored less than 28 points in a game. This is the first time we’ve seen this mode from James in his whole career… and it’s scary.

Top 5 remarkable facts about the first three games of the 2012 Finals


1) Shane Battier is shooting 73.3% on 3-pointers. The entire Thunder team has only seven more threes than Battier… on 46 more attempts!

2) Russell Westbrook is getting picked apart by the media for averaging 24.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 7 rebounds per game and having the best plus-minus of all five Thunder starters (plus-minus is the amount of points a players’ team wins or loses by, only counting the time when that player is in the game).

3) Russell Westbrook is getting picked apart by the media for “shooting too much” when, in fact, Oklahoma City is 29-8 this season when Westbrook takes the most shots on the team.


4) For the first year since 1990, neither a team from Texas nor Phil Jackson made it to the NBA Finals!

5) Someone needs to officially measure which is longer – James Harden’s beard or Chris Bosh’s neck

Top 5 things that bug me about the 2012 Finals

1) The poor officiating… more specifically, everyone knows Kevin Durant was fouled by Lebron James on his potential game-tying shot in game 2.

2) Every time Derek Fisher chucks up a three pointer, I want to throw something into my TV. The so-called “smart veteran” and “three point specialist” is 2/8 on threes in the series and swung the whole momentum of game 3 by fouling James Jones’ three point attempt, letting the Heat get back in the game with three free throws.

3) As exciting as Oklahoma City is to watch, they’re not going to have the salary cap space to keep Durant, Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka after next season.


4) The series features the two biggest floppers in the league – Lebron James and Derek Fisher. By the way, the way to stop flopping in the NBA is to have league officials should review tapes of all games and hand out a $10,000 fine for every flop, and a one-game suspension for every player who commits eight flops in a season. When there’s something that simple to fix, it has to be fixed.

5) ABC’s awkward camera angles from the right above the rim

Honorable Mention: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is on the court 90% of the game.


Top 5 reasons why the Oklahoma City Thunder are struggling

1) Their coach, Scott Brooks, made decisions in game 3 that made absolutely no sense.

(a) He had Derek Fisher in the game for nearly 12 consecutive minutes in the second half, instead of Thabo Sefolosha.

(b) He benched Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook together for five minutes, a period during which Miami went from a six point deficit to a two point lead.

(c) For no apparent reason, he only played forward Serge Ibaka for 22 minutes. It’s not a fluke that Miami got more offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, and points in the paint than Oklahoma City in that game.

2) Russell Westbrook has more rebounds in this series than forwards Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant. Center Kendrick Perkins has the worst plus-minus on the team. In other words, Oklahoma City’s big men need to do a better job.

3) Kevin Durant has scored 93 points in this series on only 61 shot attempts. There’s nobody else in the league with that kind of scoring efficiency, yet he’s only taken 61 shots. This is mainly Scott Brooks’ fault, but also to blame is the fact that…

4) Kevin Durant is constantly getting into foul trouble.

5) The Thunder are shooting just 70% from the free-throw line.

Please comment on this article and share your opinion.


Categories: Playoffs, Statistics

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Reply Lev to Seth
9:28 PM on June 21, 2012 
1) I looked at all the potential people before '77 to get 45.5 added stats, and here's what I found:

Pettit did it once, Russell did it 4 times, Kareem 2 times, West once, Rick Barry once, Chamberlain 3 times (including a 59.8!), Baylor 3 times (including a record 59.9!).

2) I see your point, but more than one player a year could have those stats; Barkley came very close the years Jordan did it, and Bird came close in some of his losing seasons.

3) None of the names pre-'77 or post-'77 aren't legends, so Lebron is in elite company no matter how you put it.
Reply Emani
1:31 PM on June 21, 2012 
Great Article. This is BIG time!

Three quick thoughts...
1) I'm a LeBron fan. I think he's the most athletic player to ever play in the league. Sure he's had some poor performances, and questionable "marketing" decisions, but I'm hoping the way he's played and handled himself in the playoffs is a sign of growth.

2) You didn't mention D.Wade's performance in the 2006 NBA Playoffs. He played out of his mind!

3) I get the same feeling when D. Fisher shoots...but I think I cringe even more when Haslem shoots.
Reply Seth
12:53 AM on June 21, 2012 
Great analysis, but you slightly overstate Lebron's playoff performance this year. Noone would deny that he's one of the greatest players of all time, and even Jordan didn't start his string of championships until he was almost Lebron's age, but your calculation of Lebron's points+rebounds+assists performance, looks great in the way you state it, but, in perspective, only one player per team per year could have those stats, and, while Lebron is def da man on his team, that perspective leaves 35 performances since 1977 to contend, meaning his performance this year is 12th out of 35 or somewhere around the bottom of the top third.
Reply Kyle Wilson
10:35 PM on June 19, 2012 
lebron is vastly overrated. watch his defense, and not just the results. he cant guard durant. his 'denial' is one long foul, that wont be called by officials cause he is a star.

also, lebron jumps in the air before half of his passes, and barely finds someone before he lands. he just isn't playing great defense, and if any of the fouls he has been committing were being called the series wouldnt even be close.
Reply Lev to Sacha
9:54 PM on June 19, 2012 
1. Absolutely!
2. Oh yeah
3. But he can do a little better than Fisher, Harden, Cook, Ibaka, Collison for five straight minutes. That's three shooting guards and two forwards with nobody to guard Wade or Lebron.
4. Agreed, he needs to drive and kick more to get some open threes for Harden and Sefolosha.
9:15 PM on June 19, 2012 
I haven't been watching enough of the playoffs (in fact hardly at all, I'm sorry to admit) to give an opinion on any of this, but your stats, observations and opinions are awesome - interesting and entertaining!
Reply Chris A.
8:33 PM on June 19, 2012 
The thunder win more when Russell shoots more than Kevin. This entire series is all about mid game adjustments in game 3 when the thunder got the 5 point lead they began to close out the inside which made Erik sub in James and Norris. I will say this though whole-heartedly... the Thunder can outscore everyone else in the NBA but until they stop playing school yard basketball and play more pick and rolls and not give up when they don't shoot well they wont win it all. Kevin has to learn to rely on smart shots not athletic ability or he will end up like Dwyane Wade who wont play past his mid 30s. Rambling is fun.
Reply Sacha
6:36 PM on June 19, 2012 
1. Give Lebron credit for the defense he was playing Sunday on Durant. That was some serious denial.

2. What happened to Manu and the Spurs being the league's biggest floppers?

3. It's not exactly easy for Scott Brooks to come up with a balanced lineup. When they go big, the Heat outrun them, and when they go small, the Heat out muscle them. Miami (especially Lebron) is too versatile to defend.

4. I'm fine with Westbrook taking more shots than Durant, but right now his shot is off, and he needs to recognize that. Westbrook is missing easy jumpers, while Durant is unstoppable. Westbrook needs to facilitate more-- that's when the scoring will come.
Reply Lev to Kyle
5:56 PM on June 19, 2012 
He has only six turnovers in the series!
Reply Kyle Cassara
5:19 PM on June 19, 2012 
Hey, the smart veteran made one nice defensive play. And even though Russell Westbrook doesn't deserve blame, he doesn't deserve credit either. Too reckless...