After scoring an NBA record 123 points in his first three games of the 2015 NBA finals, LeBron James and his underdog Cleveland Cavaliers team came back to earth in a must-win Game 4 for the Golden State Warriors. LBJ dropped just 20 points on 7-of-22 shooting and Cleveland got ripped 103-82 to set up tonight’s thrilling Game 5.
LeBron’s Game 4 performance won’t be remembered when it’s all said and done and he’s sure to redeem himself before this series is a wrap. His first three games, however, are the stuff of legends as he’s been a one-man wrecking crew, dominating the ball for Cleveland whether it be defensively, distributing or taking a high volume of shots.
This isn’t the first time LeBron has willed an undermanned squad to playoff victory. Even in his early playoff failures and past Finals losses, he’s had his share of mythical moments and unforgettable games, earning him the “King James” moniker. We could put every one of his first three games against Golden State on this list.
Putting those current gems aside, here is The Shadow League’s Top playoff performances of LeBron’s decorated career.
No. 1: Game 6 (2012 Eastern Conference Finals vs. Celtics)
LeBron averaged 33.5 PPG, 11.0 RPG and shot 52.7 percent from the field in this series. Without Chris Bosh for the first four games, the Heat almost squandered a 2-0 series lead against The Celtics’ Big Three (KG, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen) who were on the downside of a great Green Machine renaissance
Down 3-2, Game 6 was the biggest of LeBron’s intensely magnified, criticized and opinion-provoking career. He responded to the critics and the haters, dropping a wavy 45 points on 19 of 26 field goals. He also tossed in 15 rebounds, five assists and a late rainbow trey for the dagger. He played like a man possessed, dropping 30 in the first half.
Nobody even remembers Game 7 because after eradicating the embarrassing possibility of being closed out in six games, the basketball gods made the series clincher a mere formality. As was the Finals against a young OKC squad featuring Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
No. 2: Game 5 (2007 Eastern Conference Finals vs. Pistons)
Silencing the haters was once again LBJ’s theme in this series (27.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6.0 APG). After scoring just 10 points in the series opener, his team fell in Game 2 and then LeBron had one of those legacy defining moments. He became a triple-double monster and then had his finest scoring playoff game to date against the Pistons on their home floor. LBJ racked up 48 points, including the team’s last 25. He sent the game into OT with a monster flush and won it with a layup.propelling Cleveland to its first NBA finals of the “LeBron James Era Part 1.”
No. 3: Game 5 (2010 Eastern Conference first round vs. Chicago Bulls)
LeBron’s series stats were Oscar Robertson-esque (31.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 8.2 APG) and against a sophomore point guard in Derrick Rose, LBJ shook off a banged up right elbow to beast the Bulls defense for 40 points in Game 2. And he had a 37-12-11 triple-double in Game 4.
The series-clinching Game 5, however, was one of his finest moments. When LBJ shot his final free throw left-handed because of irritation in his shooting elbow, it was an indication that he played with great pain and he even had to give daps with his left hand after a gutsy game in which he recorded a near-triple double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. The Game 5 clincher was also his final series win in his first stint with the Cavs before taking his talents to South Beach and becoming a two-time World Champion and the NBA’s public enemy No.1.