Top 10 NBA Game 7s
St. Louis at Boston, NBA Finals, April 13, 1957
It took two overtimes before the Celtics prevailed over the Hawks 125-123. There were 38 lead changes and 28 ties. Tommy Heinsohn scored 37 points and grabbed 23 rebounds. Bill Russell finished with 19 points and 32 rebounds in the first of his 10 Game 7 victories.
Los Angeles at Boston, NBA Finals, April 18, 1962
With 74 seconds remaining Boston led 100-96. But guard Frank Selvy hit two shots for the Lakers to tie the game and send it to overtime. Sam Jones scored 5 points in the extra period, Bill Russell contributed 4. The Celtics won their fourth straight championship 110-107. Bill Russell had 30 points and a playoff record 40 rebounds.
Philadelphia at Boston, East Finals, April 15, 1965
Boston led 110-107 when Wilt Chamberlain made a layup with 5 seconds left. Bill Russell inbounded the ball high over Chamberlain’s outstretched hands, but the pass hit the guide wire supporting the backboard and the 76ers were awarded the ball. After a timeout, trailing 110-109, Hal Greer attempted to inbound the ball to Chet Walker. John Havlicek intercepted the pass, giving rise to Johhny Most’s famous call, “Havlicek stole the ball!” Sam Jones was the high scorer with 37 points for Boston. Bill Russell finished with 15 points and 29 rebounds.
Boston at Los Angeles, NBA Finals, May 5, 1969
The Lakers tied the game at 60-60 in the third quarter, but Boston ran out to a 91-74 lead. With less than 10 minutes left, the Celtics had a comfortable lead 100-83. Jerry West rallied the Lakers to within a point at 103-102. West’s 42 points weren’t enough as the Celtics withstood the Lakers’ rally to win 108-106. Bill Russell had 6 points and 21 rebounds, and Sam Jones 24 points and 7 rebounds in the final game of their illustrious careers.
Los Angeles at New York, NBA Finals, May 8, 1970
An injured Willis Reed hit two shots early in the game to inspire his team. When Willis Reed limped out of the locker room before the game to warm up, the Madison Square Garden crowd erupted in what has become one of the most famous moments in NBA history. Walt Frazier scored 36 points and handed out 19 assists in a 113-99 Knicks win.
Atlanta at Boston, East Semifinals, May 22, 1988
The Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks played a game that will forever be remembered for the fourth quarter shootout between Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins. Dominique finished with 47 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter. Bird entered the final quarter with 14 points. He then scored 20 to finish with 34 points in a 118-116 Celtics victory. In the fourth quarter, both teams scored on 17 of its 22 possessions.
Houston at Phoenix, West Semifinals, May 20, 1995
Houston was down nine points with five minutes left in the third quarter in Game 7. Kevin Johnson scored 46 points for Phoenix, but Houston went on a 22-11 run to turn the game around. Mario Elie hit the “kiss of death”, a three-pointer with seven seconds left that put Houston ahead 113-110. Houston held on to win 115-114.
Indiana at Chicago, East Finals, May 31, 1998
The Bulls had not been tested in a Game 7 since 1992, when they eliminated New York in the East Semifinals. Michael Jordan was in the middle of a 9-25 shooting night, and the Pacers led by three points with less than seven minutes to play. A Steve Kerr three, a Scottie Pippen jump shot and a steal by Ron Harper sealed the win for Chicago, 88-83.
Los Angeles at Sacramento, West Finals, June 2, 2002
Sacramento, behind Mike Bibby’s 29 points, put up a valiant fight against Los Angeles. It took a combination of 35 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks from Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s 30 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to get the victory. Those performances, plus Sacramento missing 14 of 30 free throws, led to a 112-106 overtime win for the Lakers.
Cleveland at Boston, East Semifinals, May 18, 2008
The Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers followed the 2008 NBA Playoffs script all the way to the end: The home team won every game, meaning the Celtics advanced. The series finale was an amazing display of basketball: Cleveland’s LeBron James scored 45 points, carrying his teammates to the very brink of the Eastern Conference Finals. But Boston’s Paul Pierce countered with 41, and the Celtics emerged with a 97-92 win.
Top 10 NBA Game 7 Performances
Bill Russell 1962 NBA Finals
(30 points, 40 rebounds)
In the 1962 NBA Finals, Bill Russell had 30 points and a NBA Game 7-record 40 rebounds, as the Celtics won 110-107 in overtime. Russell played all 53 minutes in arguably his finest game ever considering the stage, Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Sam Jones 1963 East Finals
(47 points, 7 rebounds)
Whenever the pressure was the greatest, the Celtics counted on Sam Jones. Jones delivered in Game 7 against Oscar Robertson and the Cincinnati Royals and set a NBA Game 7-record 47 points in the Celtics’ 142-131 victory. Jones finished 18 for 27 from the floor, and 11 of 12 from the free throw line in one of the best shooting performances in NBA Game 7 history.
Bill Russell 1966 NBA Finals
(25 points, 32 rebounds)
In the 1966 NBA Finals against the Lakers, Bill Russell grabbed 32 rebounds and scored 25 points in a close 95-93 win. Coach Red Auerbach retired with one last title. Red Auerbach retired with a perfect 8-0 record in Game 7s.
Jerry West 1969 NBA Finals
(42 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists)
The first triple-double in Game 7 history was recorded by Jerry West in the 1969 NBA FInals. In a valiant effort, West had 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in a 110-107 Lakers’ loss to the Celtics.
Walt Frazier 1970 NBA Finals
(36 points, 19 assists, 7 rebounds, 5 steals)
In the 1970 NBA Finals, Walt Frazier had 36 points, 19 assists, 7 rebounds and 5 steals in a game best remembered for Willis Reed’s triumphant return to the Knicks. Frazier was directly responsible for 74 points in a 113-99 Knicks’ victory over the Lakers.
John Stockton 1988 West Semifinals
(29 points, 20 assists)
The NBA Game 7 assist record was set by John Stockton in the 1988 West Semifinals against Los Angeles. Stockton also contributed 29 points for the Jazz in a game won by the Lakers 109-98.
Larry Bird 1988 East Semifinals
(34 points, 20 in the 4th quarter, 6 assists)
In the 1988 East Semifinals, the Celtics and Hawks played a historical game that will forever be remembered for the fourth quarter shootout between Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins. Bird entered the fourth quarter with 14 points. He then scored 20 points in the final quarter to finish with 34 points in a 188-116 Celtics win.
Dominique Wilkins 1988 East Semifinals
(47 points, 16 in the 4th quarter)
Dominique Wilkins matched Larry Bird’s performance in the 1988 East Semifinals. Wilkins had 47 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, but could not will the Hawks to victory. His 47 points are tied with Sam Jones for the most in NBA Game 7 history.
James Worthy 1988 NBA Finals
(36 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists)
In the biggest game of his career, James Worthy posted his only triple-double as a professional in the 1988 NBA Finals. “Big Game James” scored 36 points, pulled down 16 rebounds and handed out 10 assists in a 108-105 Los Angeles victory over Detroit.
LeBron James 2008 East Semifinals
(45 points, 6 assists)
LeBron James went basket-for-basket with Paul Pierce and scored 45 points in the 2008 East Semifinals. In one of the best Game 7s in NBA history, Cleveland ran out of time in a 97-92 loss to the Boston Celtics.
Paul Pierce 2008 East Semifinals
(41 points, 5 assists)
Paul Pierce hit 13 of 23 shots from the floor on his way to 41 points in a 97-92 Boston victory over Cleveland. The game was reminiscent of one that took place twenty years earlier featuring the shootout between Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins.