Some NBA Finals series come to an end with a sweep, while others go seven games. In each and in everything in between, there’s a player whose performance in the closeout game is the turning point. Part of the reason the public is so interested still in the Oklahoma City-Miami series is because of LeBron James’ reputation as a non-factor in “clutch” situations. This may be the most anticipated Game 5 of a 3-1 series ever — has there ever been a series this seemingly over that’s still been considered as wide open?
Tonight could, once and for all, cement LeBron’s legacy as a champion. Maybe it will prolong a great series, meaning another day will become the chance to see an all-time great closeout game. We’ll see if it becomes a legendary performance on the level of these 10 closeout performances.
10. RAY ALLEN, 2008
Game 6 over the Lakers was a blowout party at TD Garden, one ensured by Allen’s huge night from behind the arc. While his performance was buttressed by Kevin Garnett‘s 26 points and 14 rebounds, Paul Pierce‘s 17 points and 10 rebounds and Rajon Rondo‘s 21 points, Allen was the king. The all-time three-point champion knocked down 7-of-9 from deep for 26 points in 32 minutes to seal another Boston title over L.A.
9. DWYANE WADE, 2006
Coming all the way back from an 0-2 hole was going to be memorable no matter how it was accomplished. Wade, however, made sure his performance in Game 6 over Dallas morphed him from young star to league’s elite. His 36 points, 10 boards, five assists, four steals and three blocks in a 95-92 win came in 45 minutes. He didn’t shoot a three the entire game, choosing to drive at every opportunity. He got 21 free-throw attempts (Dallas as a whole had 23) out of it and made 16.