By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Before Miami likely dispatches Brooklyn in Game 5 tonight and the conversation shifts to the Heat’s match-up with the Indiana/Washington winner, let’s pause for a moment and appreciate the show LeBron James put on Monday night to get them there. Against a versatile, veteran Brooklyn team essentially fighting for their playoff lives, James made like Greg Jennings and put the team on his back (NSFW). When all was said and done, LeBron’s final line showed 49 points on 16-24 shooting, 14-19 from the foul line, and 2 assists against a single turnover. With the free throw attempts accounting for 9 possessions, and the 2 assists accounting for 5 Chris Bosh points, some back-of-the-envelope math shows that the Heat had a 150.0 offensive rating on possessions with which LeBron was directly involved. Compare that number to the 113.1 mark that the Heat lead the playoffs with, in addition to the 109.4 figure at which the Clippers topped the regular season campaign, and it’s clear that this was an astronomical effort put forth by King James. In a game that came down to the final minute, every bit of that legendary performance was needed to bury the dinosaurs.
To put LeBron’s night in historical perspective, it was one of only 19 playoff games in which a player scored at least 45 points on 65% shooting or better from the field (stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference).
First off, that Bonzi Wells game seemed incredibly random at the time and it’s even more mind-boggling when put into context alongside this list of hall-of-famers. Also, lest anyone forgets based upon his current media persona, the Chuckwagon could ball, with a line of 56 and 14 on 74% shooting (including 3-4 from three!). But at least the Sixers will always look back on the Andrew Lang era fondly. Philly fans do have a couple legendary performances from the Answer near the top of the list, a reminder of how exhilararing those nights were when everything was working for AI3. Anyway, while this list employed some arbitrary statistical cut-offs, there’s no doubt that LeBron’s game on Monday night was an all-timer in the annals of NBA history. So when you’re done wading through the media storm of referee controversies and racist old billionaires, take some time to appreciate one of the best to play this game.