Game 7 Often Produces High Drama

MIAMI – Game 7 of The Finals is the ultimate basketball experience for both players and fans. One game for everything. And it often lives up to the moment.

The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat will play the 18th Game 7 in Finals history on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ABC), the last since the Los Angeles Lakers edged the Boston Celtics in 2010. That one went down to the final minute, as have many others. In fact, 12 of the 17 previous Finals Game 7s, including each of the last four, have been decided by seven points or less. They have featured some wild comebacks and several scary moments for the eventual champions.

The home team has won 14 of the 17, but we can’t forget that the Celtics had a three-point lead midway through the fourth quarter of that Game 7 three years ago. In 2005, the Spurs and Detroit Pistons were tied with 12 minutes to play.

That was the only Finals Game 7 the Spurs have played. Neither the Heat nor LeBron James have ever played in a Finals Game 7. Pat Riley has been there multiple times, however.

Here’s a look back at the five best Finals Game 7s of all-time, along with a full list below.

And for a complete history of Game 7s, check out NBA.com/Stats.

5. 1955 – Nationals 92, Pistons 91


The Nats trailed by as many as 17 points in the second quarter. Fortunately though, the league instituted the 24-second shot clock, invented by their owner Danny Biasone, that season. That allowed them to come all the way back and George King hit one of two free throws with 12 seconds left to give them a one-point lead. He then stole the ball from Ft. Wayne’s Andy Phillip to seal the championship.

4. 1988 – Lakers 108, Pistons 105


Up 3-2, the Pistons lost Game 6 similarly to how the Spurs lost Game 6 on Tuesday. They had a three-point lead with a minute to go and the championship trophy was ready in their locker room. But a Byron Scott jumper and two Kareem Abdul-Jabbar free throws pushed the series to Game 7.

With Isiah Thomas limping around on a bad ankle, the Lakers built a 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter of Game 7. But the Pistons came back to within two with just over a minute to go. They were down one with six seconds left, but A.C. Green broke away from the pack to make it a three-point game again and, as the crowd began to storm the floor, Thomas couldn’t get a game-tying three off.

3. 1969 – Celtics 108, Lakers 106


With Jack Kent Cooke‘s balloons up in the Forum rafters, the Lakers trailed by 17 early in the fourth quarter and lost Wilt Chamberlain to an injury midway through the period. But Jerry West led them back within a point. With just over a minute left, the Lakers’ Keith Erickson stripped John Havlicek, but the ball went straight to Don Nelson, who launched a jumper that hit the back of the rim, bounced high in the air, and dropped through the net.

It was Bill Russell‘s 11th and final championship and the first time the road team had won Game 7 of The Finals. West, the only Finals MVP from a losing team, finished with 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in the deciding game.

2. 1962 – Celtics 110, Lakers 107 (OT)


There’s no better way to cap a great series featuring multiple Hall of Famers than with an overtime in Game 7. It wouldn’t have gone to OT, however, if the Lakers’ Frank Selvy hit the eight-foot, baseline jumper at the end of regulation.

He didn’t and the Celtics built a five-point lead in overtime before holding on for their fifth championship and fourth on their run of eight straight. Elgin Baylor led all scorers with 41 points, while Russell registered 30 points and 40 rebounds for Boston.

Each of the final five games of the series was determined by five points or less. Here’s video of West winning Game 3 with a steal and layup in the final three seconds.

1. 1957 – Celtics 125, Hawks 123 (2OT)


Two overtimes for the NBA title? Yes, please. The Hawks tied the game in the final seconds of regulation with two Bob Pettit free throws and in the final seconds of overtime with a Jack Coleman jumper. With his team down two again at the end of the second OT, St. Louis’ Alex Hannum purposely threw a full-court pass off the backboard to Pettit, but the Hall of Famer couldn’t convert and the Celtics won their first of 17 championships.

Boston rookies Russell and Tommy Heinsohn combined for 56 points and 55 rebounds.

Finals Game 7s

Year Home H Pts Away A Pts Margin Video
1951 Rochester 79 New York 75 4
1952 Minneapolis 82 New York 65 17
1954 Minneapolis 87 Syracuse 80 7 1954 Lakers
1955 Syracuse 92 Fort Wayne 91 1 Dolph Schayes: The Evolution of the Game
1957** Boston 125 St. Louis 123 2 1957 Celtics
1960 Boston 122 St. Louis 103 19
1962* Boston 110 L.A. Lakers 107 3 1962 NBA Finals
1966 Boston 95 L.A. Lakers 93 2 1966 NBA Finals
1969 L.A. Lakers 106 Boston 108 2 1969 Game 7
1970 New York 113 L.A. Lakers 99 14 1970: Willis Reed
1974 Milwaukee 87 Boston 102 15
1978 Seattle 99 Washington 105 6 1978 Game 7
1984 Boston 111 L.A. Lakers 102 9 1984 Game 7
1988 L.A. Lakers 108 Detroit 105 3 Big Game James
1994 Houston 90 New York 84 6 1994 Game 7
2005 San Antonio 81 Detroit 74 7 2005 Game 7
2010 L.A. Lakers 83 Boston 79 4 Game 7 Mini-Movie

* Overtime
** Double-overtime

24 Comments

  1. PuroSA says:

    About the only drama the Spurs will produce will be the celebration of winning a 5th NBA Championship nothing else will prompt them over react unless someone gets in their face and it being the final game for all the marbles do not be disappointed if the Spurs just smile and walk away.. Duncan know what it will take to win tonight and he’s have the Spurs ready to rock for a win.

  2. iopoi says:

    SPURS will win their 5th NBA Championship.
    Good Job for the HEAT.

    Duncan for MVP @.@

  3. latigo rapper says:

    GO SPURS GO!

  4. Spurs/Heat Fan says:

    This has been an awesome NBA Finals !
    These are my 2nd and 3rd favorite teams, and when you consider there are 30 teams, the likelihood of 2 of your 3 favorites meeting in the Finals is very slim. Its too bad the series is best of 7, wish this was a best of 15, first team to get 8 wins. Sadly, the awesomeness ends tonight. Either way, I will be happy for the Spurs or Heat. At least this year we don’t have to watch the lame lakers or sorry celtics – any year both of those miss the Finals is a good year for the NBA.

  5. AJ says:

    heat win by at least 8points tonight!!!!

  6. Number 13 says:

    Animosity and rivalry is missing from this series.

    This game 7 is only interesting because the Spurs blew a Game 6 clincher and it makes you wonder what their mindsets will be.

  7. wayne marquis west says:

    Heat or good

  8. engin says:

    Ok you see him taking three steps but it is because he cannot shoot it as he is fauled. Faul starts right as he takes his first step and continues till his third. Just think please there are three miami hands trying to reach in for the ball. Are they all touching the ball. Come on you know the answer

  9. engin says:

    We probably would not need the 7th game if the 8second remaining OT faul on ginobili was called. That is it.

    • Miso says:

      That is the one call you think swayed the game? Not the number of no calls the Heat got under the Spurs basket, including the one where Lebron lost his headband, but was called play on? You can’t lose a headband without contact to the head, but nobody is complaining about that one. Or a number of Parker flops that resulted in fouls. Or etc etc etc. Look at the stats. Spurs had the majority of the calls go their way, and overall the game was well refereed.

    • ComeOn! says:

      Leonard had his chance and blew it.

  10. Alex says:

    Wade will step up tonight!!!

  11. Janice says:

    GO HEAT!!!

  12. NbaFanRo says:

    Truly hope Lebron gets his 2nd ring tonight.

  13. Ramiro Gonzalez says:

    Go Spurs !!

  14. Tanguy Tamsi says:

    San Antonio will win tonight. Duncan needs his 5th title.