Throughout the course of his regular trip to the NBA Finals this past decade, LA Lakers star LeBron James has made a habit of picking apart particular teams in the playoffs. James seemed to relish the opportunity to demolish certain opponents on his way to the big stage.
From his time as a member of the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, the 4-time MVP reached the Finals eight straight seasons from 2011 to 2018. Every team he faced prior to the championship round fell by the wayside as James found a way to eliminate one team after the other.
Here are the 5 teams that LeBron James routinely tormented in his career:
5. Atlanta Hawks
During LeBron James’ second tour of duty with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Atlanta Hawks were no match for him in the postseason. The 2014-15 Hawks won 60 games and had home court advantage over the Cavs. It didn’t matter as James carried the Heat to a 4-0 sweep of the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals including a 30-point win in Game 4.
Key LeBron James stats: 30.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, 9.3 assists, 1.5 steals
The teams met again in the 2016 playoffs but the result was the same: a 4-0 sweep at the hands of James’ Cavs.
Key LeBron James stats: 24.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 3.0 steals
4. Chicago Bulls
In the 2010-11 season as a member of the Miami Heat, LeBron James lost the MVP Award to Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. James took that slight from the voters personally and proceeded to make the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals his proving ground.
James and company took down the Bulls 4-1 as the 6 feet, 9 inches James defended the 6 feet, 2 inches Rose and limited him to 33 percent shooting in the final four games of the series.
Key LeBron James stats: 25.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 2.4 steals,1.8 blocks
Two years later, James led the charge and defeated the Bulls in five games again, this time in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Key LeBron James stats: 23.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 2.2 steals.
LeBron James met them again in the Eastern Semis in 2015 but the result was pretty much the same. This time as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, James led his new team to a 4-2 series win that saw him and Rose exchange buzzer-beaters in Games 3 and 4.
Key LeBron James stats: 26.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.7 blocks
3. Toronto Raptors
Believe it or not, the Toronto Raptors were competitive in their first matchup with LeBron James’ Cavaliers team in the 2015-16 season. The teams met in the Eastern Finals and it took six games for the Cavs to win. James took charge once more and carried the Cavs on his back.
Key LeBron James stats: 26.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 blocks
That was as competitive as the Raptors could get as James simply toyed with Toronto the next year with a 4-0 sweep of their rivals in the Eastern Semis.
Key LeBron James stats: 36.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks
The same rang true for the 2018 playoffs as the Cavaliers made mincemeat of the competition with another 4-0 sweep. James was so good in the series that he was nicknamed LeBronto because he simply “owned” the Toronto Raptors the past three years.
Key LeBron James stats: 34.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 11.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.0 blocks
2. Indiana Pacers
LeBron James not only met Paul George as a member of the Indiana Pacers in the 2012 Eastern Semifinals, he also faced his future LA Lakers coach, Frank Vogel. The Pacers made It a tough series but the Miami Heat were just too good, especially the King.
Key LeBron James stats: 30.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 2.7 steals.
A year later in 2013, the teams met again, but this time in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers took the Heat to seven games before the James Gang finally finished them off.
Key LeBron James stats: 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.4 blocks.
Another meeting in the 2014 playoffs ensued, but as hard-fought as the Eastern Conference Finals was, the Pacers fell to the Heat in six games. James was once again the star of the series.
Key LeBron James stats: 22.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.8 steals
In the first-round of the 2017 playoffs, James’ Cavs swept the Pacers 4-0 on their way to the NBA Finals for the seventh straight season.
Key LeBron James stats: 32.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 3.0 steals, 2.0 blocks
1. Boston Celtics
For those who thought the Boston Celtics destroyed LeBron James, guess again. Though the Celtics had his number during his first stint in Cleveland, James made up for those missteps by defeating the Celtics four times in 10 seasons.
The Miami Heat easily disposed of the Celtics in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals as James exacted revenge on Boston for eliminating his Cavs team a year earlier.
Key LeBron James stats: 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.8 blocks
The following season, the teams faced each other again, but this time in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. This series was famous for LeBron James’ epic Game 6 in which he carried the Heat to victory to stave off elimination with a 45-point, 15-rebound, 5-assist masterpiece. The Heat finished them off in Game 7.
Key LeBron James stats: 33.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.3 blocks
It was a different roster by the 2015 playoffs but LeBron James didn’t care. He led the Cavs to a 4-0 sweep of Gang Green in the first-round.
Key LeBron James stats: 27.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.5 blocks
The 2017 Celtics were led by the feisty Isaiah Thomas who nearly carried his team to the Finals until LeBron James came along and snuffed their dreams out. It was a quick five-game series in the Eastern Finals with James dominating again.
Key LeBron James stats: 29.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 2.2 steals, 1.2 blocks
The 2018 version of the Celtics was bannered by rookie phenom Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They nearly defeated the Cavaliers, taking them to a Game 7, but LeBron James was just too much.
Key LeBron James stats: 33.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocksPublished 23 Dec 2020, 06:24 IST