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Heat, LeBron lights out in clinchers

5/28/2014
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

LeBron James has averaged nearly 29 points and nine rebounds per game in potential series-clinchers.The Miami Heat head to Indiana tonight (8:30 ET on ESPN and WatchESPN) trying to wrap up a fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. In the “Big 3 Era,” starting with the 2010-11 season, the Heat have been at their finest in potential series-clinchers, thanks in no small part to LeBron James.

Since James and Chris Bosh joined the team, this is the eighth time the Heat have held a 3-1 series lead, and in all seven previous occurrences, the Heat won Game 5, including earlier this postseason against the Brooklyn Nets.

LeBron Shines in Clinchers

25.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.0 APG
All-Time in Potential Series-Clinchers

In 29 career potential series-clinching games, LeBron James is averaging 28.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he’s one of four players in NBA history with career averages of at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists per game career in potential series-clinchers (with a minimum of five games played).

The others, shown on the chart on the right: Michael Jordan, Jerry West and Larry Bird.

Thanks to these big performances, James’ teams are 21-8 in potential series-clinchers, for a .724 winning percentage. That mark compares favorably to Jordan’s career marks, as his teams were 30-13 in potential clinchers, for a .698 winning percentage.

Adding to His Legacy

James finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in Miami’s Game 4 victory, his 74th career postseason game with at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that breaks a tie with Jordan for the most career 25-5-5 games in the postseason. It also extends his postseason record with a 22nd game with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Throughout the postseason, James has also been incredibly efficient, shooting a postseason career-best 57.3 percent from the field while averaging 28.8 points per game. Entering this postseason, James had shot 47.2 percent from the field in his playoff career.

Heat One Win From History

Last Team With 4 Straight Title App
Major North American Pro Sports

Not only are the Heat going for their third consecutive NBA title, but a win over the Indiana Pacers would give Miami its fourth straight NBA Finals appearance, joining the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers as the only franchises to do so in NBA history.

Reaching four straight NBA Finals is a rarer occurrence than a threepeat. There have five instances of a team winning three straight titles in NBA history, but only three times has a team made four straight finals (the Celtics did so twice).

The feat of making at least four consecutive championship appearances is rare across the other three major pro sports as well. It’s happened six times in MLB, four times in the NHL and three times in the NFL.