Thursday June 20th, 2013

(/Getty Images) LeBron James finished with a game-high 32 points in Game 6 against the Spurs. (John W. McDonough/SI)

MIAMI -- LeBron James' performance in Game 6 on Tuesday was a study in contrasts. At various points in Miami's 103-100 victory over San Antonio, the 2013 MVP was passive, aggressive, careless and clutch, providing a little something for fans and haters alike. He settled for jumpers, then he attacked the basket like a mad man, then he turned the ball over multiple times late, and then he hit a crucial three-pointer. But when the overtime buzzer finally sounded, James' multiple-personality performance fell almost exactly in line with past performances in elimination games.

Entering Game 6, James was averaging 31.5 points, 10 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 11 games when a loss would have meant elimination. James' line on Tuesday? 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. James' historical tendency to shoot more and play absurd minutes in elimination games also played out as expected: James shot 26 times and played 50 minutes, including the entire second half and overtime. Both numbers got a bump because of the extra period; in regulation, James shot 23 times and played 45 minutes, virtually identical to his elimination game averages of 22.7 field goal attempts and 44.5 minutes entering the contest.

James will face his third elimination game of the 2013 playoffs on Thursday and the 13th elimination game of his career. A win in Game 7 would move James to 7-6 in elimination games overall and 5-1 in elimination games since he joined the Heat in 2010.

"I understand the moment for me," James said on Wednesday. "I've been pretty relaxed throughout the playoffs. I'm going to be antsy, I'm going to be excited. I'm going to have some butterflies. I'll be nervous. Everything. That's how I should be. The moment is going to be grand."

Thursday marks the first Finals Game 7 for James and a victory would deliver the the second title of his 10-year career.

"I need [the championship] because I want it ... my only goal is to win championships," he said. "I said it, this is what I came here for. This is what I wanted to be a part of this team for."

This table shows how James' numbers in elimination games -- including Game 6 against the Spurs -- compare to his overall regular-season and postseason stats.

PPG RPG APG FG% MPG
Regular Season 27.6 7.3 6.9 49 39.7
Playoffs 28 8.6 6.7 47.2 43.1
Facing Elimination 31.5 10 6.8 46 45

Here's how that stacks up next to Michael Jordan when he faced elimination.

PPG RPG APG FG% MPG
LeBron James 31.5 10 6.8 46 45
Michael Jordan 31.3 7.9 7 44.5 41.6

Jordan's Bulls went 6-7 in elimination games, although it's worth noting that Jordan's list of elimination games includes a number of first-round contests, which were then played under a best-of-five format rather than a best-of-seven. Remarkably, Jordan faced elimination just three times after he turned 28, James' current age.

Here's how Jordan's elimination game numbers compare to his regular-season and postseason averages.

PPG RPG APG FG% MPG
Regular Season 30.1 6.2 5.3 49.7 38.3
Playoffs 33.4 6.4 5.7 48.7 41.2
Facing Elimination 31.3 7.9 7 44.5 41.6

Here's the full list of James' eliminations games in chronological order.

  • 2006 Eastern Conference semifinals, Game 7, Pistons: 27 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 11-for-24 shooting, 46 minutes: L
  • 2007 Finals, Game 4, Spurs: 24 points, 6 rebounds, 10 assists, 10-for-30 shooting, 46 minutes: L
  • 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals, Game 6, Celtics: 32 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 9-for-23 shooting, 46 minutes: W
  • 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals, Game 7, Celtics: 45 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 14-for-29 shooting, 46 minutes: L
  • 2009 Eastern Conference finals, Game 5, Magic: 37 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists, 11-for-24 shooting, 45 minutes: W
  • 2009 Eastern Conference finals, Game 6, Magic: 25 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 8-for-20 shooting, 44 minutes: L
  • 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, Game 6, Celtics: 27 points, 19 rebounds, 10 assists, 8-for-21 shooting, 46 minutes: L
  • 2011 Finals, Game 6, Mavericks: 21 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists 9-for-15 shooting, 40 minutes: L
  • 2012 Eastern Conference finals, Game 6, Celtics: 45 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 19-for-26 shooting, 44 minutes: W
  • 2012 Eastern Conference finals, Game 7, Celtics: 31 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-21 shooting, 47 minutes: W
  • 2013 Eastern Conference finals, Game 7, Pacers: 32 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 8-for-17 shooting, 40 minutes: W
  • 2013 Finals, Game 6, Spurs: 32 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists, 11-for-26 shooting, 50 minutes: W

Here's Jordan's list.

  • 1985 first-round, Game 3, Bucks: 35 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 12-for-26 shooting, 42 minutes: W
  • 1985 first-round, Game 4, Bucks: 29 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists 6-for-16 shooting, 42 minutes: L
  • 1986 first-round, Game 3, Celtics: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 8-for-18 shooting, 39 minutes: L
  • 1987 first-round, Game 3, Celtics: 30 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 9-for-30 shooting, 39 minutes: L
  • 1988 first-round, Game 5, Cavaliers: 39 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 12-for-22 shooting, 43 minutes: W
  • 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals, Game 5, Pistons: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 10-for-22 shooting, 43 minutes: L
  • 1989 first-round, Game 5, Cavaliers: 44 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 17-for-32 shooting, 44 minutes: W
  • 1989 Eastern Conference semifinals, Game 6, Pistons: 32 points, 4 rebounds, 13 assists, 13-for-26 shooting, 42 minutes: L
  • 1990 Eastern Conference finals, Game 6, Pistons: 29 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 11-for-20 shooting, 39 minutes: W
  • 1990 Eastern Conference finals, Game 7, Pistons: 31 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 13-for-27 shooting, 45 minutes: L
  • 1992 Eastern Conference semifinals, Game 7, Knicks: 42 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 15-for-29 shooting, 42 minutes: W
  • 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals, Game 6, Magic: 24 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 8-for-19 shooting, 39 minutes: L
  • 1998 Eastern Conference finals, Game 7, Pacers: 28 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 9-for-25 shooting, 42 minutes: W
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