Are the Celtics and Lakers on a collision course to a Game Seven? Maybe so.
Incredibly, NBA fans have witnessed just one Game Seven in the NBA Finals in the past 16 years, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs over the Detroit Pistons in 2005. Before that, turn back the clock to June 22, 1994, when Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets defeated the New York Knicks to win their first NBA championship.
Clang — that’s the sound of John Starks missing another three-pointer on his way to a 2-for-18 (0-for11 on threes) shooting performance that doomed the Knicks that night. Patrick Ewing would never come closer to a ring.
Since the NBA began play in 1946, there have been 16 seventh games in the NBA Finals. The Celtics and Lakers have played four previous winner-take-all games, with Boston winning each time — in 1962, 1966, 1969 and 1984.
Celtics 7-0 in Seventh Games
The Celtics have never lost a Game Seven in the finals. They’re a perfect 7-0. Boston beat the St. Louis (now Atlanta) Hawks to win the championship in 1957 and again in 1960, and stopped the Milwaukee Bucks in 1974.
The Lakers are 3-5 overall in Game 7 finals, with wins against the Knicks in 1952 and the Syracuse Nationals in 1954, when the franchise called Minneapolis home, and in 1988 against the Detroit Pistons.
Los Angeles’ other Game 7 loss came in 1970, the Willis Reed game, when Walt Frazier produced one of the great Game 7 performances in history, 36 points and 19 assists.
In the first NBA Game Seven, in 1951, the Rochester Royals defeated the Knicks after New York rallied from a 3-0 deficit to force a decisive game.
NHL, MLB Game Sevens
The NHL has seen 15 seventh games since the league went to that format in 1939. Notably, five of those showdown games have occured since 2001, with Colorado, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Pittsburgh each winning one.
The Chicago BlackHawks, who ended a 49-year Stanley Cup drought by beating the Philadelphia Flyers in six games, lost Game Seven finales to Montreal in both 1965 and 1971.
In the NHL’s first Game Seven in 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings.
Major league baseball has had 35 seventh games, the last in 2002 when the Anaheim Angels beat the San Francisco Giants for their only World Series win.
We need a seven-game World Series. This year.
There’s nothing like a seventh game in the World Series. It’s a game in a season, and a season in a game. One game. Winner take all.
Throughout baseball history, there have been 35 seventh games since the first World Series in 1903.
The last seven-game series in 2002 saw the Angels beat the Giants for their only World Championship.
The previous year, as the nation recovered from the 9/11 attacks, the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven on a bloop, walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez off Marino Rivera in the bottom of the ninth, pictured left..
Since 1987, the only other seven-game series occurred in 1991 when the Twins beat the Braves, and 1997 when the Marlins beat the Indians, both in walk-off extra inning games.
Jack Morris pitched a shutout and Gene Larkin drove in the only run with a single in the 10th inning for the Twins win. Six years later, Edgar Renteria’s single in the 11th gave Florida a 3-2 win and the championship.
There have been a total of six walk-off wins in Game Seven overall. The Red Sox beat the Giants in 1912 when some Giant misplays and Larry Gardner’s sacrifice fly against Christy Mathewson enabled Boston to rally for a 3-2, 10-inning win.
Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators won their only World Series in 1924, also against the Giants, on a bad hop single by Earl McNeely in the 12th.
And in 1960, the Pirates edged the Yankees, 10-9, on a home run by Bill Mazeroski. That remains the only Game Seven in World Series history to end on a home run, pictured right.
The St. Louis Cardinals have won seven seventh games (1926, 1931, 1934, 1946, 1964, 1967 and 1982), a record. Not surprisingly, the Yankees have played in the most, winning five out of eleven.
The Cards twice beat both the Yankees (1926, 1964) and the Red Sox (1946, 1967) in Game Seven showdowns.
The Pirates have the best record at 5-0 (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979) and the Giants are 0-4 (1912, 1924, 1962 and 2002).
Other Game Seven facts and figures that may interest only me:
- A total of 16 seventh games were staged between 1952 and 1979, nearly half of the all-time total of 35.
- Six seventh games occurred in the 60s; five apiece in the 50s and 70s.
- Between 1955 and 1958, the Yankees played four straight seventh games, exchanging wins with the Dodgers and then the Braves.
- All four of those World Series were won by the road teams, including the first and only championships for Brooklyn and Milwaukee, in 1955 and 1957.
- The Yankees avenged those losses in 1956 and 1958; they also beat the Dodgers in seven in 1947 and 1952.
- The last time the Cubs appeared in the World Series, 1945, they lost to the Tigers in Game Seven.
- There were no seventh games between 1912 and 1924, the biggest gap in baseball history.
- The Oakland A’s are the only team to win back-to-back Game Sevens, in 1972 against the Reds and 1973 vs. the Mets.