The Best Game 7s In Conference Finals History


MIAMI — Game 7. It’s 48 minutes for everything.

This isn’t The Finals, but it’s the next best thing. The winner gets the opportunity to play for a championship against the San Antonio Spurs. And with how evenly played the Eastern Conference finals have been, it’s only appropriate that the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers play one game to decide who gets that opportunity.

This will be the 113th Game 7 in NBA history and the 33rd Game 7 in the conference finals (or division finals, as they were called before 1971). Of the 33, it’s the third straight that will be played on the shores of Biscayne Bay.

A year ago, the Heat beat the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. In 2005, the Detroit Pistons came to Miami and knocked off the Shaq-and-Wade duo in their first year together. That was one of only eight wins by the road team in the 32 conference finals Game 7s.

Here’s some more numbers regarding the history of Game 7 in the conference finals…

  • 15 of the 32 winners, including four of the last six, went on to win The Finals.
  • 14 of the 32 Game 7s were won by the team that had won Game 6.
  • While the Heat are 1-1 in conference finals Game 7s, the Pacers are 0-3, losing to the Knicks in 1994, the Magic in 1995 and the Bulls in 1998, all on the road.
  • Only twice in NBA history have both conference finals gone to seven games. In 1963, the Celtics and Lakers each won in seven, and in 1979, the Bullets and Sonics each won in seven.
  • 17 of the 32 games have been decided by six points or less.

Yes, there have been some classic Game 7s in conference finals history. Here’s a rundown of the best (Home team in CAPS)…

June 6, 2005 – Detroit 88, MIAMI 82
The Pistons won their third championship in 2004 and the Heat won their first in 2006. In between, they played a tightly contested Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Heat led by six with less than seven minutes to go, but the Pistons went on a timely, 8-0 run, highlighted by a Ben Wallace dunk on Rasual Butler. Rasheed Wallace put the Pistons ahead for good with a pair of free throws with 1:26 left and then came up with a big tip-in on the Pistons’ next possession. Dwyane Wade went scoreless in the fourth quarter, missing all six of his shots and committing two of the Heat’s six turnovers.

Detroit went on to lose to the Spurs in seven games..

June 2, 2002 – L.A. Lakers 112, SACRAMENTO 106 (OT)
This one was the only overtime Game 7 in conference finals history and it wrapped up one of the craziest playoff series in recent memory, in which each of the last four games came down to the final five seconds of regulation.

The Lakers won Game 4 on Robert Horry‘s buzzer-beating three. The Kings won Game 5 on a jumper from Mike Bibby. Game 6 was the controversial night when the Lakers attempted 27 free throws in the fourth quarter and survived when Bibby missed a three with five seconds left.

Bibby tied Game 7 with a pair of free throws with eight seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter, and he gave the Kings a two-point lead with a jumper with 2:17 to go in overtime. But Sacramento went scoreless on its final six possessions and the Lakers won the game at the line. The Kings themselves made just 16 of their 30 free throws, while also shooting a brutal 2-for-20 from 3-point range.

Not only was this the only overtime Game 7 in the conference finals, but it’s the one where you can most clearly say that the winner determined the NBA champion. The Lakers went on to sweep the New Jersey Nets in The Finals.


.June 4, 2000 – L.A. LAKERS 89, Portland 84
The Blazers had come back from a 3-1 series deficit to force Game 7 and led by 15 early in the fourth quarter. But that was just a setup for the biggest collapse in Game 7 history. They were outscored 25-4 over the next 10 minutes and four years before their bitter break-up, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal hooked up for the alley-oop dunk that ended the Blazers’ season.

L.A. went on to win its first of three straight titles, beating the Pacers in six games.


May 31, 1998 – CHICAGO 88, Indiana 83
Michael Jordan played in just *three Game 7s, and this was the only one that was close. Scottie Pippen put the Bulls up for good with a jumper with 4:45 left and, at 1:59, made it a four-point lead with the only field goal for either team in the final two minutes.

Jordan led all scorers with 28 points, but shot just 9-for-25. The Bulls crushed the bigger Pacers on the glass, grabbing 22 offensive boards. They went on to win their sixth title, beating the Utah Jazz in six games.

*Jordan’s other Game 7s: a 93-74 loss in Detroit in the 1990 conference finals and a 110-81 win over the Knicks in the 1992 conference semis..

June 2, 1996 – SEATTLE 90, Utah 86
Karl Malone got the Jazz to within one with a reverse lay-up with 32 seconds left, but after Shawn Kemp made it a 3-point game with a pair of free throws, Malone missed a pair of freebies to keep Utah alive. Overall, Kemp (26 points, 14 rebounds, 8-for-12 shooting) outplayed Malone (22 points, five rebounds, 8-for-22 shooting).

The Sonics went on to lose to the Bulls in six games, just like the Jazz did each of the next two years.


June 5, 1994 – NEW YORK 94, Indiana 90
One of those Knicks-Pacers classics. The Pacers looked to have stolen the series when Reggie Miller scored 25 points in the fourth quarter of Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. But the Knicks responded with a Game 6 win in Indianapolis to force a Game 7 that went down to the wire.

The Pacers led by one with 30 seconds left and forced John Starks into a tough, contested drive. But as the ball bounced off the rim, Patrick Ewing was there to throw it down. Then, for some reason, the Pacers ran the clock down to 10 seconds before running Miller off a screen, and his contested jumper was way off.

Ewing’s line was pretty ridiculous: 24 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks. But he would get outplayed by Hakeem Olajuwon in The Finals as the Knicks lost to the Houston Rockets in seven games.


May 30, 1987 – BOSTON 117, Detroit 114
Four days after Larry Bird (literally) stole Game 5 from the Pistons, he put them away with an all-time Game 7 performance. Bird played all 48 minutes and finished with 37 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Danny Ainge hit the two biggest shots of the game, a 3-pointer with just over three minutes left to break a 99-99 tie and another big jumper in the final minute. The Pistons played the final 12 minutes without leading scorer Adrian Dantley, who suffered a concussion in the third quarter.

The Celtics lost to the Lakers in six games in The Finals..

May 3, 1981 – BOSTON 91, Philadelphia 90
In a series where five of the seven games (including each of the last four) were determined by two points or less, the Celtics became just the fourth team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit. They trailed Game 7 by seven points with just over five minutes to go, but they come back again and Bird’s pull-up bank shot with a minute left put them up by two. Mo Cheeks had a chance to tie the game at the line with 29 seconds left, but missed one of two.

Bird won his first of three championships with a six-game win over the Rockets in The Finals.


May 18, 1979 – WASHINGTON 107, San Antonio 105
Two years before the Celtics came back from 3-1, the Washington Bullets did the same. They also came back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter of Game 7.

With the score tied, Bobby Dandridge hit a pull-up baseline jumper over three defenders with eight seconds left to put the Bullets up two. The Spurs had a chance to tie, but Elvin Hayes blocked James Silas‘ drive to seal the game.

This was a real scoring duel between Dandridge (37 points) and George Gervin (42). The Bullets would lose The Finals to the Seattle SuperSonics in five games.


April 19, 1971 – Baltimore 93, NEW YORK 91
These teams faced each other in the playoffs in six straight years from 1969 to 1974. The home team won each of the first six games in this series, but the Bullets dethroned the champs when Wes Unseld got a piece of Bill Bradley‘s game-tying jumper in the final seconds.

The Bullets got swept in The Finals by the Milwaukee Bucks.

April 15, 1965 – BOSTON 110, Philadelphia 109
The Celtics avoided one of the biggest upsets in playoff history when John Havlicek “stole the ball!” They would go on to beat the Lakers in five games.


April 5, 1962 – BOSTON 109, Philadelphia Warriors 107
Sam Jones, aka “Mr. Clutch,” hit the game-winner with two seconds left.

April 1, 1961 – ST. LOUIS 105, L.A. Lakers 103
The Lakers went just 36-43 in their first season in Los Angeles, but had a chance to get to The Finals. But they lost Game 6 at home by one in overtime, and then fell to Bob Pettit‘s Hawks in Game 7. St. Louis lost The Finals to Boston in five games.


  1. EyronFigures says:

    KOBE is Pathetic.. He got all of his ring because of all the BIG GUYS surrounded him, SHAQ, BYNUM, GASOL and now D12 but D12 didnt get his 6th ring..hahahahaha! he cant win a championship without this guys but we have to admit that every superstar needs some help also.. nobody can win a title without a help, he is a great player, i admit it.. but anyway i really don’t like him, ever! a very selfish player, he is not even a good leader, a trying hard to copy MJ’s LEGACY:)

  2. BlackDove- says:

    you gotta love It!

  3. Aram says:

    Haters, its time to bandwagon with Spurs! oh yi!

  4. let's play ball forever! says:

    NBA great players: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Shaquille O’neal, Tim Duncan, Robert Horry… jejeje!! In this days i can tell that Lebron James is the KING, and David west is the BIGGEST LOSER; a player has to be not just a leader, or to get a good salary, or to be a consummate warrior to be an all-time great. Is necessary a dose of common sense and logic to understand which road is the best to take. Also for those who play just for the money, is necessary to understand that further than the money exists the selftranscendence; becoming a menthor for others, is priceless gift that may bring satisfaction to the player and human being! Simplicity is a fact that can create a softer enviroment, and will let thw flow go into the game and life of the person, and those around!

  5. Swagpersonified says:

    I have deep respect for Lebron and his crew. But I see some of the comments saying that Lebron flopping is fine because David west, lance etc did. Well to those guys I say, do you really respect Lebron then? We have to hold him to a higher standard than the others. Don’t get me wrong, I love David west and he’s a phenomenal player, he grinds and bites through to win and his hard work is always noticed. But he’s no Lebron. Neither is Stephenson. Lebron flopping is a bigger deal than the others flopping. He’s the best player. That’s it. Argue Durant, Chris, maybe even kobe (my favorite player, but he’s just too old to be the best now), but Lebron is the undisputed king. And for that reasons, him flopping can’t be tolerated. Kobe and Jordan, the two best players before him, didn’t flop. Hell, kobe didn’t even try drawing offensive fouls. And Jordan, well you know. We have to hold them at a higher standard than the normal superstar, they are the best, and flopping can’t b there.

  6. Jay says:

    Anybody else notice that, in most of those stats they list, it basically comes to percentage points off of 50/50? Basically, just under half the winners of game 7’s ended up winning the finals? So, what you’re saying is, half of the two teams in the finals those years won? WOW. And that holds true for nearly every stat they gave, lol

  7. G says:

    adding the 2002 game in here was bad enough.. but you used it as the thumbnail too.. come on

  8. G says:

    Sacramento Kings – 2002 NBA Champions

  9. eggs says:

    I’m with Manu ginobli in hoping they go to 5 OT’s and bang each other up. The spurs have this years title in the bag already! POP’S system is too good for either of these teams!

  10. Dechen Thurman says:

    I agree. Bad taste to mention the KINGS LAKERS series without referring to the confession of the ref who contributed to rigging the game. But NBA is still worth watching because great teams can outplay the refs ability to rig it for the advertising sponsors.

  11. LA Snapbacks says:

    LA Lakers vs Boston 2010? Where is it?

  12. Spire says:

    Don’t understand why you even mention 2002 kings and lakers. That series proved the NBA is rigged.

  13. DNA says:

    Sacramento Kings – the REAL 2002 NBA champions..
    GAME 6 – MOST RIGGED GAME IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA .. thanks to the refs and david stern , the Lakers stole C-webb’s only ring.. and the worst thing is that the only fans in the nba that dont recognize that are Laker fans…
    after that game i started to lose all the respect for the organization… they stole a CHAMPIONSHIP.. A CHAMPIONSHIP… i mean .. as much as i love Kobe and Shaq.. they didnt deserve that ring..
    the other games on the series had some bad calls but nothing that could destroy a game.. they were still competitive until the last second.. like when Big shot made the shot at the buzzer..

    • Game Time says:

      I stopped watching NBA ball for five years after that WCF, but it’s not the whole organization that’s rigged. It’s some refs that are betting on games. I guess the Pistons in 2004 and Dallas in 2011 show that you can beat the odds and they refs.

  14. Drago says:

    The Sacramento series was fixed so it should not be on this list.The proof is the entire video material from that series just watch it an see for yourself.The NBA is not infallible nor is the officiating top notch in a loot of playoff games.I understand the need for ratings and big money so I’m not all that surprised.The NBA is untouchable and fair.

  15. truthK says:

    This series has been decided since game 1. If you really follow the series, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The game has been called ridiculously the whole series. Indiana is in such a tight spot since they won’t win against Miami no matter what. If the game will be called fairly, Miami will win and even if the game will be favored by the refs, Miami will still win because they’re the team the NBA wants to win. Indiana should at least be thankful that they became relevant because of this series. The reason we have a game 7 is because of the officiating.

    Game 1 – poor officiating and favored the Pacers. Nba wanted Indiana to win to generate a big buzz for the series but LBJ ruined it. Resulting to a better game 1 the NBA planned. An LBJ game winner created more buzz about the series than what they have planned about the upset game 1.

    Game 2 – supposed to be Heat win designed by the NBA but they wont allow it to be 2-0. So again, poor officiating and favored the Pacers (they were planning to favor the heat because they planned for indiana to win game 1 but had to change the plan). Indiana won because of a highly questionable call on Wade’s foul on George’s three point attempt. They didn’t show much of the replay and only a couple of angles which the foul on Wade wasn’t clear at all and no contact was made on the jumper. Resulting to game 2 pacer win 2-2

    Game 3 – The NBA has been playing the controlled games bluntly the first two games so they had tone it down and just let the game be decided by who is really better. Not much of the officiating controlling the game. Resulting to a blow out win by the Heat. Heat 2-1

    Game 4 – The series had to be tied. LBJ receives 3 very quick and questionable fouls on the fourth which led to his ejection. The verticality rule didn’t apply when he went straight up to hinder George’s drive resulting to his 5th foul and a free throw for PG. 6th foul was another very questionable call on the screen. he was more stationary on that screen on most of the screens throughout the game and also, Wade denied the screen and Stephenson just plainly got lost on the play and ran into the screen, which Wade denied. Offensive foul on LBJ, ejection. Resulting to Pacers win. series 2-2

    Game 5 – Poor officiating favored the Heat. Even though bosh and wade played horribly, they still won. 3-2

    Game 6- Poor officiating favored the Pacers. The verticality rule applied to Hibbert even though we was leaning into LBJ during the 4th quarter drive, resulting to LBJ foul, 2 techs, 4-point swing (during Miami’s comeback and momentum on Miami side). That play alone stopped Miami’s comeback and completely turned the game around. Resulting in a Pacers win. 3-3

    Game 7 – The NBA couldn’t much hope for a better series. They have been selling Paul George to the people as the one who can match with James. PG is a good player but being to hyped by the NBA. Never had he contained LBJ and yet, the media is feeding us that PG is doing a great job on LBJ. With the NBA losing Kobe and Durant through elimination, They needed a player to hype and sell coz they can’t have just LBJ to sell their games. West finals didn’t have that type of star, (even though the spurs are a really good team. They don’t have a flashy player that the NBA can sell that’s why they were ignored. Tim and Tony has been superb throughout the playoffs and yet they were ignore because they lack the flare to sell games), so they put everything in the ECF series and made a star out of PG. Anyway, watch the game tonight, If the Pacers win, then all these theory/conspiracy goes out the window. They are simply the better team. If the Heat win, the theory
    /conspiracy stands still. The only bad thing about it is we can’t tell for sure if the Heat were the better team. If there would be less control by the officials and the Heat won by 8+ points, the Heat will stand as the better team as it should be. But I really doubt they will call if fair. If the Heat can’t put out the Pacers by the 3rd quarter, brace yourselves for some old fashioned NBA control on the 4th quarter.

    Bash on me now, I just spoked the truth

    • Bullsfan says:

      I agree with everything except for Game 4. Yes, they had to make the Pacers win at least once on their home court. But why couldn’t they do that for the Bulls? And on LeBron’s 6th foul, if you look at the replay then you can see LeBron steps on Stephensons foot. Maybe he flopped on the stumble but James still stepped on his foot.

      • Game Time says:

        The 6th foul on Lebron was very ticky tacky, but was still a foul since some contact was made. He didn’t step on his foot but they did touch. I don’t take any credit away from Indy for playing great basketball, but I think Pacers got gifted on a couple games and almost stole game one with a very bogus 3pt foul call. The better team will pull out all the stops tonight and walk away the winner. I’m hoping Miami wakes up and realizes what they need to do.

  16. brent says:

    The Pacers will win game 7. The NBA needs to stop the talk of fixed games. The best way to dismiss fixed games is to fix the under dog to win!

  17. Malcolm says:

    haahahahahah 😦


  19. 5abi says:

    miami gotta give mike miller more pt!

  20. markus moroe says:

    1993 Western conference finals: Barkley had 44p 24reb. Is that good enough to make the list?

  21. wrong says:

    2002 Lakers vs Kings wasn’t an upset because the Lakers were 3rd seeded. It was an upset because the refs GAVE the game to the Lakers. Seriously, Kobe throws an elbow at Mike Bibby and gives him a bloody nose, then Bibby is called for a foul? Most ridiculous officiating ever

    • Really? says:

      I wonder what’s your basis for making that comment, give me fatcs please, links or any evidence that would prove your statement. Your statement lacks substance other than giving me a simple idea that you hate the Lakers. So what you’re trying to say is that the refs gave Robert Horry the ball to make that last second shot to seal that pivotal game? I have read the most ridiculous comment ever, thanks to you.

      • Game Time says:

        Even though I’m not a Laker fan and I do think the refs were bad in that game, it doesn’t excuse the lose for the Kings. You lose, you lose; that’s it. There’s no going back and blaming it on anyone but yourself. Hit your shots, make the stops and you will win if you are the better team. Honestly anyone crying about refs has issues coping with reality or losing.

  22. Andre says:

    The best? Game 7 of 1975 western conference finals: Golden state warriors 83 x 79 Chicago Bulls

  23. musmus says:

    You are not right. Lakers beat the Kings in 2002, that was an upset, because Lakers were 3-rd seeded, Kings — 1st seeded! 🙂

  24. Patty says:




  25. Antonio says:

    Great videos!

  26. I cant wait! says:

    It’s gunna be a good one!

  27. Game Time says:

    People complain so much about James flopping. We know he commits flops, but so does your favorite player (whoever they may be). Look at Kobe Bryant for one. He’s been getting away with throwing his arms up anytime the ball is swiped out his arms and he gets the call. It happens 3-4 times a game! Last game Lebron had one call where he “flopped” when he got a slight bump from Paul George. My point is SHUT UP about flopping because it’s been going on forever and ALL players have done it to a certain degree.

  28. Michael says:

    Sacramento-LA was fixed!! It shouldnt count that in

  29. Wondering says:

    June 2, 2002 one of the first times it is very apparent how finals are decided by higher ups.

  30. Dee says:

    I am a HEAT fan, but unfortunately, I don’t see them winning tonight. Here is why:

    1. there is a feeling of deja-vu when I see Wade blaming Lebron for selfishness. When they lost to Dallas in 2011, it was the same thing. They started blaming each other.

    2. the coach loses control of his superstars when they start losing and he is too stubborn to change his game and rotation plan.

    3. they forced Ray Allen to change his game too much. Now, all he is thinking when he gets the ball is dribble and drive to the lane. WTH! he’s been a sharp shooter all his career!!

    • Game Time says:

      I gotta agree with all, except for them not winning. They still have the edge in my opinion. Bosh and Wade have been missing pretty much the whole seires and we are at game 7. So one of two things happens tonight in my mind. Bosh or Wade steps up and puts the differences aside, or they both continue to be the same, and it will come down to a close game.

    • John says:

      Yep, Indiana in 7. Team ball over Superstar/primadonna hype.

    • steve says:

      i have to agree with you, wade coming out after game 6 and pretty much was blaming LeBron for him and bosh not getting enough touches, the chemistry that the “big 3” had in the season and the first 2 rounds all of a sudden is gone and I don’t see that chemistry coming back tonight. if they do lose and I think they will, then I think its realistic that LeBron will leave Miami becuz honestly I thought LeBron left Cleveland so he didn’t have to do it all on his own, in the game 6 I heard reggie miller call the heat the Miami cavaliers. lmfao!

    • iHateHaters says:

      Dude!.. We won LOL! #6e1iev3

  31. Boere says:

    It’s a shame that so much attention has been given to the Kings – Lakers matchup, and nothing is said about the corrupted referees. The Kings were the best team in 2002. Game 6 was rigged up to high heaven. Just take a look at how Shaq stepped over the line with every free throw he took.

    • Really? says:

      Really? So the refs made sure that Robert Horry would make that last second shot to seal the game? And your basis is Shaq steps on the line every free throw, wow, that sounds deep. An investigation was done after that, did they conclude that the games were rigged? Ignorant people conclude games on the basis of their judgment and not evidence or facts, blinded by their biased opinions and hate towards a certain team. There are other venues/forums for your comment, where substance is not significant and ignorance is a plus. The Kings were good, but never the best that year. I guess you know who won the crown.

      • bigwes95 says:

        @really? they took 27 free throws in the 4th quarter! lots of teams don’t get that in whole games, let alone one quarter! and it’s been proven it was rigged as officials were making bets on games and a link to that would be here:

        Let’s see, oh Chris Webber, Divac, Scott Pollard, and Lawrence Funderburke were called for 20 fouls combined. the last two players maybe don’t make the cut for awesome players, but they were the backup center and forwards for the kings behind Webber and Divac. so basically the officials took out the Kings frontcourt completely in the 4th quarter alone, and this is the only series from that year to go 7 games. so please tell me how Boere^^ is being ignorant and being completely biased with facts right here for you? and Horry making that shot never would have mattered if the game was called fairly. It was an amazing shot, but the refs won that game and the Lakers never should have gone on to win the championship, let alone GET to it!

  32. High School Coach says:

    I hope the refs do not make a bunch of bad calls just so the Heat win. Lebron seems to get whatever he wants if he whines enough.

    • B-Ball4Life says:

      Sorry but hopefully they won’t favor the Pacers like they did the last games. HEAT WILL DESTROY THE PACERS!!!
      You’ll see. Haters gonna hate…

      • bunbury says:

        please. no-one and I mean absolutely NO-ONE gets more favorable calls than Lebron since MJ. enough said.

    • zaldykun says:

      yeah, what a baby…

      • Chris S says:

        To B-Ball4Life:

        You are probably one of the millions of sheep that flocked on the Heat’s jock after getting LeWhine James and Christy Bosh. And I don’t hate, I just like when a team plays their a$$ off (minus Danny Granger) and gets rewarded for their efforts. The Heat can’t get by on talent alone (they need official help). But, if the calls are fair and the Pacers lose, then I will be OK with it. I’m not even from Indy, this is a Piston fan talking. I like a good hard working team. The Heat always seem to be giving the mean mug to the refs when they miss shots they should make. Should be fun tonight…..

    • Ball says:

      They probably will tho. Heat going in the finals as opposed to pacers will sell more tickets and thats all that matters

    • Adam says:

      Dude, get real. Do you really think the NBA will let the Pacers get into the Finals? Profit wise, do you think they’ll make much if the Pacers get there? No Queen James, no Lebrat diva? tthey won’t make that much money. So let’s face it, yeah, all the Heat fans are right, they will destroy the Pacers because David Stern will make them win Game 7.

      • Game Time says:

        Here come people making excuses already. The team that wins will be the teams that deserve to be there. If the NBA was really about turning up the highest profit, would the largest market teams always be in the finals? Shut up, and quite crying.

      • Kei says:

        @Adam If that’s the case, Spurs shouldn’t be in the finals since Stern officially hates Spurs and they got low ratings. if profitwise, Heat should meet Lakers in the finals. Even stern can’t cheat that far. Deal with it buddy, heat won fair and square.

    • Dan says:

      they better not give the pacers the lebron treatment, dude needs an emmy already

      • Game Time says:

        Like Paul George, Lance and West don’t? Geez people use any bit of ammo they can to hate James. He’s acted on some calls AN SO HAS EVERY OTHER NBA STAR. Get over it.

  33. Ben Makowski says:

    All those Game 7’s would not amount to the upset this one will be if Indiana pulls off a win tonight.