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Top 5 NBA Game 7s of All Time

Jaclyn Harris

By Jaclyn Harris

June 20, 2013

Who hasn’t been keeping up with the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals? The teams have been keeping their fans on the edge of their seats as neither team can win the series over the other. Their contests have continued to be close, especially Game 6, as it led to the Heat’s 3-point victory in overtime.  

As the teams prepare for tonight’s game, they need to tighten up on their own mistakes and deliver on the others. Both of these teams have already been added to the rare list of teams that play Game 7 in the NBA Finals. But before we watch either the Heat or the Spurs become champions tonight, let’s take a look at what I believe to be the Top 5 NBA Game 7s of all-time. 

June 6, 2005: Detroit beats Miami, 88-82

This Eastern Conference match-up was a close battle between the Pistons and the Heat. Halfway through the fourth quarter, Miami had a 6 point lead, but could not compete with an injured Dwayne Wade, who did not contribute any points past the third quarter, missing six shots in the fourth. Despite Shaquille O’Neal leading the Heat with 27 points that game, Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace came knocking with 22 and 20 points respectively. In the final minutes, the Pistons went on a 8-0 run defeating the Heat, 88-82. 

The Pistons then, with three championships under their belt, went on to lose to the Spurs in the Finals. The Heat then won their first championship the next year.

June 2, 2002: Lakers beat Sacramento, 112-106

 This entire series was incredibly close. In each game, the Lakers and the Kings would beat each other in the final five seconds of regulation play. With that being said, it is no surprise that Game 7 went into overtime, making it one of the only Game 7s in conference finals history that has. Mike Bibby tied the game with a free throw with seconds left in the fourth quarter and sunk a jumper with a few minutes left in overtime. However, his plays were not enough for Sacramento as they could not score on their final six possessions, allowing Shaquille O’Neil and Derek Fisher to bring the Lakers to victory.

The Lakers went on to beat the Nets in the Finals. 

June 4, 2000: Lakers beat Portland, 89-84

In this Game 7, the Lakers had a 10 minute come-back that brought them to the Finals. The Blazers were leading L.A. by 15 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter. As things were looking bright for Portland, the Lakers went on a 15-0 run, bringing them back in the game. The Lakers ended up outscoring the Blazers 25-4 as they won, 89-84.

The L.A. Lakers then went on to win the championship.

May 31, 1998: Chicago beats Indiana, 88-83

This match-up was too close for Chicago as they were trying to hold onto their reign as champions. Although Michael Jordan finished as the highest scorer with 28 points, Scottie Pippen was the one that brought the Pacers demise. Indiana led, 72-69, at the beginning of the fourth quarter, forcing Chicago to heighten their defense. Pippen then closed on a jump shot, giving the Bulls the lead as they defeated the Pacers, 88-83.

The Pacers performance during this series was the beginning of a good thing for Indiana although Chicago went on the NBA finals. However, it was the end of an era for the Bulls as Jordan retired after that season.

May 3, 1981: Boston beats Philadelphia, 91-90

The Celtics/76ers rivalry is not a new thing to NBA fans, as these two teams have played each other in the playoffs more than anyone else. This series brought the fan excitement as five of the seven games were won by two points or less. Not to mention, the Celtics fought to stay out of elimination for three games, forcing them to return from double deficits to get their win. In Game 7, the Celtics trailed by seven points with five minutes on the clock. Larry Bird’s shot in the final minute gave them a 2-point lead. Mo Cheeks then had two foul shots, but missed one, allowing Boston to advance to the finals.

The Celtics continued on to sweep the Rockets in the finals.

What NBA Game 7s do you think were the best? Who do you think will win tonight, the Spurs or the Heat?


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