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
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.