Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat put together one of the best regular seasons in recent memory thanks in large part to a 27-game winning streak. But it also secured home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and that could be a deciding factor on where the Larry O’Brien trophy stays for the next year.
As both the Heat and the San Antonio Spurs get ready for the deciding Game 7 of the NBA Finals, history is firmly on the side of the Heat. The last team to win a NBA Finals Game 7 on the road was the 1978 Washington Bullets who beat the Seattle Supersonics 105-99.
Since then, there have been five Game 7’s in the NBA Finals and each of those has been won by the home team by a margin of six points, according to ESPN.com. In addition, over the last 30 postseasons, home teams are 17-2 in Games 7s in the Conference and NBA Finals.
The only two losses by a home team in a Game 7 of the Conference or NBA Finals were in 2002 when the Sacramento Kings lost to the Los Angeles Lakers and in the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals when the Pistons lost to the Miami Heat.
The last time the NBA Finals went the full seven games was in 2010 when the Los Angeles Lakers hosted Game 7 against the Boston Celtics. The Lakers defeated the Celtics 83-79 in the game.
If you’re looking for the best performance in a Game 7, you have plenty of choices. Bill Russell put up 30 points and 40, yes 40, rebounds for the 1962 Celtics while Walt Frazier threw down with 36 points, 19 rebounds, and 7 assists for the New York Knicks against the Lakers in 1970.
Miami’s Big Three has only played two Game 7s, but won both of them. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has been through three Game 7’s and only lost once in 2009. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is also 2-1 in Game 7s.
As for players, the Heat’s LeBron James has played in four Game 7s, though never in the Finals. He’s averaged 32 points per game over those Game 7s. For the Spurs, future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan has lost only one Game 7 in overtime in 2006 when he scored 41 points.