How Many Points Does LeBron James Have to Score to Make History?
LeBron James set the record for the most points scored through three games of an NBA Finals last night at 123, edging out Rick Barry's 122 from his 1967 series with the San Francisco Warriors.
Of course, setting records through three games of something won't get you a highlighted section on Basketball-Reference.com or Wikipedia. What will be interesting to watch over the remaining two to four games of this this series is whether or not LeBron manages to set a scoring record for the Finals as a whole.
If this one were headed for a sweep, he'd have a pretty easy time passing Shaquille O'Neal's four-game record of 145 set with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002. With the way the Warriors are letting LeBron get his, he could probably score the 23 total points required to beat that record from the bench.
The possibility that this one ends in five, six, or seven is still very much alive, though. Here's a look at the record holders for scoring in the Finals for each of those series lengths, and how much James would have to score and average to put his name in place of theirs in the history books in permanent ink.
|Series Length||Player||Team||Year||Record||PTS Needed||PPG Needed|
|5 Games||Allen Iverson||PHI||2001||178||56||28.0|
|6 Games||Michael Jordan||CHI||1993||246||124||41.3|
|7 Games||Elgin Baylor||LAL||1962||284||162||40.5|
If the Cavs can do the seemingly unthinkable and take care of the Warriors in five games, Allen Iverson's five-game record probably doesn't stand a chance. As previously mentioned, LeBron looks like he could accidentally score 28.0 points per game over the next two contests.
If the Warriors push it to six or seven, however, regardless of which team wins, LeBron will have to keep up his torrid pace from Games 1-3 at a minimum to have a chance at dethroning Michael Jordan or Elgin Baylor from their respective six- or seven-game records.
As for the top scoring average for the Finals (regardless of series length), LeBron is currently tied with Michael Jordan at 41.0 points per game for the all-time best mark. In other words, he'll have to score at a rate at least one point better over the remaining games of this series if he wants to set that record.
But ask LeBron what he cares more about between these scoring records and getting his third ring and the first championship in the history of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise and I'm sure we all know what the answer would be.
And if he does lead the Cavs to that title, but doesn't keep up with the scoring record? Perhaps he could take solace in the fact that he would have three rings to his name by age 30.
You know, just like Michael Jordan did.