As I was sitting and watching the amazing game that LeBron James had in Game 4 at Chicago, I realized that we as Cavs fans have begun to take his greatness for granted and we do not realize what we are watching. So I have decided to delve into the playoff statistics of LeBron James to see just how amazing he has been.
LeBron James Playoffs, Year by Year:
2006: 13 games, 30.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.38 spg and 0.69 bpg
2007: 20 games, 25.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 8.0 apg, 1.70 spg and 0.50 bpg
2008: 13 games, 28.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 7.6 apg, 1.77 spg and 1.31 bpg
2009: 14 games, 35.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 7.3 apg, 1.64 spg and 0.86 bpg
2010: 5 games, 31.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 8.2 apg, 1.20 spg and 2.40 bpg
Totals: 65 games, 29.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 7.3 apg, 1.60 spg and 0.92 bpg
His overall combination of scoring, rebounding and passing is practically unmatched in NBA history. Only three players with 10+ career playoff games played averaged 7+ assists and 7+ rebounds per game in the history of the NBA. Those three players are LeBron James (8.3 rpg, 7.3 apg), Magic Johnson (7.7 rpg, 12.3 apg) and Jason Kidd (7.4 rpg, 8.8 apg). When you look at the points per game from these three players there is no comparison to LeBron. Magic averaged 19.5 points and Jason Kidd averages 14.9 points. LeBron is averaging 29.5 (which on its own is very impressive, ranking 3rd in NBA history for playoff points per game).
In the 2009 playoffs he averaged 35.3 points, which is 6th best in NBA history for a single playoff (10+ games). His best scoring series is against the Magic in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals when he averaged 38.5 points.
In Game 4 at Chicago, LeBron had 37 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. This was the first playoff game that a player had a triple double with 35+ points since…….LeBron did it last year in game 5 of the Magic series (37p, 14r, 12a). Prior to that, you have to go back to 2000 when “The Glove” Gary Payton did against Utah (35p, 10r, 11a) and 1993 when “Sir” Charles Barkley did it against Seattle (43p, 15r, 10a), which were the only other two occurrences since 1990. So over a 20 year span, this was done twice, then LeBron does it twice in under a year.
Over this same span, only Jason Kidd (11) has had more playoff triple doubles than LeBron (5). In his 11 triple doubles, Kidd averaged a solid 19.7 points, while LeBron has put up an incredible 30.8 point average in his 5 triple doubles. Interestingly the walking triple double himself, Oscar Robertson, had career playoff averages of 22.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 8.9 assists. Once again, there is no comparison.
A closer look at his five playoff triple doubles shows that LeBron has his biggest games in the most critical situations.
The following is a game by game recap of his triple doubles:
1st - April 22, 2006 Eastern Conference First Round Game One vs. Washington (32p, 11r, 11a) in a 97-86 Cleveland Victory:
This was LeBron’s first playoff game of his career, it was the Cavaliers first playoff game since 1998, and LeBron came out in style, proving that no stage is too big for the King!!! This was a very important game to win for the Cavaliers confidence in what would end up being a hotly contested series (this year and the next two years as well). Note this was also the game when Nike handed out the Witness T-Shirts to the crowd, starting a whole new marketing campaign. Seems that worked out well.
2nd – May 13, 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 3 vs. Detroit (21p, 10r, 10a) in a 86-77 Cleveland Victory:
The Cavaliers came home for Game 3 after losing two in convincing fashion in Detroit. May people thought the Cavaliers would get swept out in 4 games by the then mighty Pistons, but LeBron had other ideas. This game was the first of three wins in a row, and the Cavaliers were then a fumbled Flip Murray rebound away from pulling of a huge shocker. They ended up losing the series in seven games, but this was the turning point in the Cavaliers vs. Pistons series as it proved they could hang with and even beat the playoff seasoned Pistons.
3rd - May 2, 2008 Eastern Conference First Round Game 6 at Washington (27p, 13r, 13a) in a 105-88 Cleveland Victory:
This game came after a Game 5 Cavalier loss at home. Washington (the #5 seed) thought with that victory they would be able to extend the series to seven games and possibly steal the series from the Cavaliers. The Wizards to a man were convinced that this was the year they would get past the Cavaliers. LeBron said no to that in Washington in front of a packed house wearing “Crybaby 23” t-shirts supplied by Papa John’s. I have refused to pay for Papa John’s pizza since that day (I will eat free pizza made by pretty much anyone though). DeShawn Stevenson and Soulja Boy were also a side show of this LeBron performance!
4th - May 28, 2009 Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 vs. Orlando (37p, 14r, 12 a) in a 112-102 Cleveland Victory:
The Cavaliers came into this game down 3 games to 1, and this was a must win to give the Cavaliers faint hope of coming back. LeBron had by most accounts the second best playoff game of his career (the first is his masterful 48 point double overtime performance against the Pistons in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals). He took the team on his shoulders and carried us to the victory. It would go for naught though, as the Cavaliers would lose game 6 in Orlando and bow out of the playoffs.
5th - April 25, 2010 Eastern Conference First Round Game 4 at Chicago (37p, 12r, 11a) in a 121-98 Cleveland Victory:
The Bulls were coming off of a game 3 victory and were building confidence that they could turn this into a series. LeBron said no way. This win sealed Chicago’s fate and the Cavaliers would go on to win Game 5 to close the series without much of a struggle. This was important, because their second round opponent (Boston) would also win in 5 games, so they will get the same amount of rest. LeBron also hit an incredible 6 of 9 from three point range including a half court shot as the 3rd Quarter buzzer sounded.
These games were all victories for the Cavaliers and they all were momentum changers. LeBron rises to the occasion time and time again, and his next playoff triple double will almost assuredly come in the same fashion.
LeBron has been consistently productive, not just in playoff games, but also in each series he has played.
Below is a list of LeBron’s statistics broken down per series over his playoff career:
2006 vs. WAS: 35.7ppg, 7.5 rpg, 5.7 apg
2006 vs. DET: 26.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 6.0 apg
2007 vs. WAS: 27.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 7.5 apg
2007 vs. NJ: 24.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 8.5 apg
2007 vs. DET: 25.7 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 8.5 apg
2007 vs. SA: 22.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 6.8 apg
2008 vs. WAS: 29.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 7.7 apg
2008 vs. BOS: 26.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 7.6 apg
2009 vs. DET: 32.0 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 7.5 apg
2009 vs. ATL: 33.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 6.0 apg
2009 vs. ORL: 38.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 8.0 apg
2010 vs. CHI: 31.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 8.2 apg
Take away the 2007 NBA Finals against the Spurs, and LeBron has been unstoppable in the playoffs. He has averaged 7+ assists and 7+ rebounds in 7 out of 11 series. He has put up a 30+ point average in 5 out of 11 series, including the last 4. In his 12 Eastern Conference Final games, he has put up unreal averages of 32.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists.
Everyone one always says that the Cavaliers are a one man show and won’t win with LeBron doing everything. I say we won’t win unless he is doing everything. If there is one person on the planet who can consistently carry his team to greater heights with all the pressure square on his shoulders, LeBron James is that man. He is carrying the weight of the whole City of Cleveland on his shoulders and he can handle it.
Cavs playoff statistical history, LBJ’s current spot on the career playoff points list, and a weekly rant after the jump…