First Round Game 7s Usually Not Close

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Last year, we got just one Game 7: Memphis-Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semifinals.

This year, even though no opening-round series were even after four games, we’re getting two Game 7s in the first round. The first will come Saturday night, when the Nuggets visit the Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT). The second will come Sunday afternoon, when the Clippers visit the Grizzlies (1 p.m. ET, ABC).

These games will be the 12th and 13th first-round Game 7s since the league changed the first-round format from best-of-five to best-of-seven in 2003.

Games 7s bring the highest stakes in hoops. But many of the first-round Game 7s over the last 10 years have failed to bring much excitement. Only two of the 11 have been decided by single-digits, and five of the 11 have been decided by more than 20 points.

Nine of the 11 first-round Game 7s were won by the home team, and seven of the 11 were won by the team that lost Game 6.

Five of the 11 winners went on to win another round. But only one of those five made it to The Finals. That was the 2008 champion Celtics.

First round Game 7s

Year Home Pts Away Pts Diff. Rds won
2003 Detroit 108 Orlando 93 15 2
2003 Dallas 107 Portland 95 12 2
2004 Miami 85 New Orleans 77 8 1
2005 Dallas 116 Houston 76 40 1
2005 Boston 70 Indiana 97 27 1
2006 Phoenix 121 L.A. Lakers 90 31 2
2007 Houston 99 Utah 103 4 2
2008 Boston 99 Atlanta 65 34 4
2009 Atlanta 91 Miami 78 13 1
2009 Boston 109 Chicago 99 10 1
2010 Atlanta 95 Milwaukee 74 21 1

The best first-round Game 7 was Utah’s win in Houston in 2007, a game that was tied with four minutes to go. Mehmet Okur hit two big threes down the stretch, and the Rockets couldn’t grab the rebound they needed to give themselves a chance to tie or take the lead in the final minute. Carlos Boozer led the Jazz with 35 points and 14 rebounds, while Tracy McGrady had 29 points and 13 assists for Houston.

McGrady was on the losing end of three of the 11 games above.


John Schuhmann is a staff writer for Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.


  1. John Abetong says:

    OKC vs Miami I beat for NBA finals.

    OKC wins at 7.

  2. Yave says:

    I remember the Hawks-Celtics game 7 series.ATL played HORRIBLE.

  3. Tygger2K6 says:

    The Nuggets will win on the Road. Better luck next year Lakers! Bwahahahaha!

  4. Fedor says:

    Read my blog why I believe the Nuggets have what it takes to win game 7

  5. GrizzFan says:

    Tired of seeing Clipper fans say that the refs were on the Grizzlies side. Who knows why they called the T. But the foul when Kenyon Martin dunked and they called a blocking foul away from the ball and counted the bucket, that was the worst call of the game.

  6. farouut!! says:

    evidence most people who comment here are 18 yrs and below: confused about hornets being in the east conf.

    • GD says:

      You are aware of the fact there are people living outside of the US where basketball isn’t that big of a deal but are still watching and reading about the NBA?

      • DeeJay says:

        doesn’t matter. if you’re of age and you follow the NBA, you know EXACTLY who the Charlotte Hornets are…I mean, who could forget when they were actually good…with Glen Rice making that squad worthwhile…

  7. Marco Polo says:

    it’s hard for both Los Angelos teams to reach the Final

  8. Johnson says:

    Man.. feel so bad for Mcgrady to see him on the losing end on so many of these

    • yukqd1989 says:

      well, actually Mcgrady had not won any of the playoff series, or put it other way, no teams has ever won a playoff series with mcgrady on the court so far

  9. Tavar says:

    They were originally the charlotte hornets but the next season the charlotte bobcats were formed so they were moved to the western conference

    • RJ says:

      They were already in New Orleans before the Bobcats came to be. They just switched conferences when the Bobcats came to exist. (kind of)

  10. Aristotle17 says:

    Charlotte Hornets…

  11. Eric says:

    Mr. Boy, NO was in the eastern conference until realignment in 2005 when the bobcats came into the league

  12. Jay says:

    Just seems to me the refs call the game according to how Memphis plays with the Clippers rarely getting the benefit of the doubt especially at home. Reggie hi five and a T…. I think when we see something like this the fans should get an explanation from the league…. terrible.

  13. Mohamed says:

    New Orleans used to be a part of the Eastern Conference but then got moved over to the Western conference! I believe so because they used to play in oklahoma city but Idk. But they were apart of the Eastern conference at a point

  14. Brett B says:

    Can somebody explain why Reggie Evans got his T? I seen the replay , he made a play high five’d Griffin and he got T’d up, I only seen the replay, not the whole play. I didn’t see anything from it, but someone who watched the game can probably answer this.

    • HeisMad says:

      It was not about what he did, it was he said something negative after the play, and the referee caught the word and T him up. That was what the commentators said afterward.

    • Yave says:

      It was just a REALLY bad call by the ref.Reggie Evans only High fived Blake Griffen.Really stupid on part of ref.He really shouldn’t get an NBA Finals game for that

  15. Mr. Boy says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but how did New Orleans end up playing in the eastern conference with Miami back in 2004. Answers will be appreciated. Thank you!

    • Mcky says:

      Apparently, New Orleans was listed as an Eastern Conference team in the year 2004. They got transferred (just a guess though) to the Western Conference at 2006 or so. Not really sure, but I can still remember that New Orleans used to be an Eastern Conference team.

    • GrizzGrindHouse says:

      New Orleans replaced Charlotte Hornets. In 2004, NBA has expanded adding 1 team (Charlotte Bobcats on the Eastern Conference) and moving New Orleans Hornets to the Western Conference.

    • aldstar says:

      Yeah they used to be the Charlotte Hornets back then, with Baron Davis ;p

    • meloman says:

      yes NO was an eastern confrnce team when they replaced the charlotte hornets. and then they were sent to the western confrence and was OKC Hornets for awhile before becoming NOH this year. it was just like Milwaukee in the past when they were a western confrence team.

    • mvp says:

      it was when charlotte was still not a franchise. it was when the nba had 29 teams. when charlotte came in i thing they changed NOH to the West cause it was the closest east city from the west and charlotte is in th east. i think that was the reason of the change.

    • Myself says:

      not really ignorant simply just inquisitive and seeing as I now know the answer to that I am enlightened myself

  16. Minneapolis Laker says:

    Lakers will win it at home. Good luck next year Denver.