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A Look At LeBron James’ Historic First Round

© Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports

How LeBron James keeps rewriting the record books.

The Cleveland Cavaliers stumbled into the NBA Playoffs with a pedestrian 10-14 record in March and April to close out the regular season. There were questions regarding team chemistry, as the Cavs were plagued with injuries all year. Even more so, there were questions surrounding LeBron James and if he had enough left in the tank after playing the second most minutes in the NBA regular season. But just as we’re accustomed to seeing every postseason, LeBron flipped the switch and put together a historic four-game stretch to silence the critics.

In Game 1, the story was CJ Miles missing a potential game-winning jumper at the buzzer to steal the first game in Cleveland. However, lost in the craziness was James’ stat line of 32 points on 60% shooting, 13 assists, and six rebounds in his 200th career playoff game. This line has only been replicated three times in NBA history, the other two being Michael Jordan and Chris Paul. 

With the effort, he also passed Oscar Robertson for the third most playoff games with 30 points and 10 assists in NBA history (via Elias Sports). And lastly, this was his 85th career 30-point playoff game, as he already sits second all time and continues to creep up on Michael Jordan’s mark (109). And this was only Game 1.

LeBron James4/15/20171220.60023.667613332
Michael Jordan6/5/19911518.83301.000713233
Chris Paul4/17/20111118.61123.667714433

In Game 2, James only got better. The Big 3 of James, Irving, and Kevin Love improved as well, combining for 89 of Cleveland’s 117 points, the first time in Cavaliers’ history that three players scored 25 points or more in a playoff game. 

Although James’ offensive output decreased a bit, with Irving pouring in 37 points and Love adding 27, he made his mark on the defensive end to put up a never-before done stat line in the playoffs of 25 points, seven assists, 10 rebounds, four steals, and four blocks. Career-wise, James passed Magic Johnson for third place in career playoff steals and passed Robert Parish for eighth in career playoff rebounding. But again, James just got better and better. 

Career Leaders in Playoff Steals

1Scottie Pippen395
2Michael Jordan376
3LeBron James366
4Magic Johnson358
5John Stockton338

Twenty-eight points, seven assists, six rebounds, zero turnovers. A stat-line that has only been achieved 12 times in NBA playoff history… and this was just James’ second half. The Pacers came out firing on all cylinders in the first half, sporting a 25-point lead going into the half. Then, James helped pull off the greatest second-half comeback in NBA playoff history. Running with a lineup of predominantly Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, and Channing Frye, Irving and Love never even stepped foot on the court in the fourth quarter as James carried the team. 

After the dust settled, James finished with 41 points, 12 assists and 13 rebounds, another stat-line never achieved before him. However, even more historic (if that’s even possible) James passed Kobe Bryant to become the third highest scorer in playoff history, doing so in 19 fewer playoff games played. In addition, he also surpassed Kobe for career playoff three-points with 295, good for fourth all time. He now sets his sights on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for scoring (5762) and sharpshooters Manu Ginobili (311) and Reggie Miller (320), who he could conceivably pass this postseason. 

Career Leaders in Playoff Points

1Michael Jordan5987
2Kareem Abdul-Jabbar5762
3LeBron James5703
4Kobe Bryant5640
5Shaquille O’Neal5250

Career Leaders in Playoff Three-Pointers Made

1Ray Allen385
2Reggie Miller320
3Manu Ginobili311
4LeBron James296
5Kobe Bryant292

Career Leaders in Playoff Rebounds

5Kareem Abdul-Jabbar2481
6Karl Malone2062
7LeBron James1797
8Wes Unseld1777
9Robert Parish1765

Finally, in Game 4, the Cavaliers were in control nearly the entire game until the fourth quarter, where the Pacers came back to take a two-point lead. Then with 1:08 left to play, who else but the King himself could calmly pull up and drill a dagger three-pointer to put the Cavs up for good? While his stat line wasn’t historic, the win was. 

James won his 21st consecutive first-round game to take the longest first-round winning streak in NBA playoff history (under the current playoff format). Also, James completed his 10th series sweep, taking the crown for most in a career from Tim Duncan, according to Elias Sports Bureau. 

Just to emphasize, James hasn’t lost a first-round game in five years. He extends his first-round playoff series win record to 12 consecutive seasons, without a single loss in his entire career.  

Best Win Percentages in First Round of Playoffs

W-LWin Percentage
LeBron James48-787.3%
James Worthy26-486.7%
Magic Johnson25-486.2%

LeBron James First Round Stats


On one hand, you have consistency — knowing that you can count on a player to perform when it matters most. And on another hand, you have something I’ll call explosiveness — the ability of a player to just explode for historic nights. However, when you put these opposite concepts together, you get what we saw out of James. Another year, another sweep. Who knows when this historic run will finally end?

Edited by Jazmyn Brown, Bobby Murray.

Who led the Miami Heat in three-pointers made in the 2013 NBA Finals?
Created 4/29/17
  1. LeBron James
  2. Mario Chalmers
  3. Shane Battier
  4. Ray Allen

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