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The Top 10 NBA Finals Closeout Performances

By 06.21.12

4. BILL RUSSELL, 1966

To beat the Lakers in Game 7 95-93, Russell had to have a huge game to offset Jerry West’s 36-point, 10-rebound night. West, in a losing effort, would actually become series MVP, but Russell won another title behind this line: 25 points and 32 rebounds.

3. JAMES WORTHY, 1988

A series against the Detroit Bad Boys that went seven games was capped by a player worthy of a huge game. That is, you can count James Worthy‘s 36-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist masterpiece — in a tight, 108-105 win that needed every point — as perhaps the best closeout performance. Worthy played a game-high 44 minutes (Isiah Thomas played just 28) but didn’t use all the time to score by volume: he shot 15-of-22 en route to the title at The Forum.

What makes this game stand out was the pure animosity between Detroit and L.A., a clash of styles — one of grace, one of grit — that placed this series in the public consciousness as less a basketball series but a referendum on the game itself. Detroit would get their titles later, of course, but Worthy — the old guard who represented the Lakers’ transition brilliance — turning in this performance was perfect for the series it was.


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TAGSBILL RUSSELLDimeMagDWYANE WADEJames WorthyLarry BirdMAGIC JOHNSONMichael Jordannba finalsNBA PlayoffsRAY ALLENShaquille O'NealWalt Frazier

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