Prolific duos have Cavs, Warriors on verge of NBA title
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors head into Game 7 of the NBA Finals with each team boasting a tandem that could rank among the highest-scoring duos in league playoff history.
Cleveland’s LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are each averaging over 25 points per game in playoff competition. Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson aren’t far off that mark, as Curry is averaging 25.6 points per game and Thompson has 24.7 points per game during this postseason.
According to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ game notes, which cite ESPN as its source, only four previous duos have averaged 25 points per game in playoff completion in a given postseason. A few of those tandems accomplished the feat multiple times.
This postseason conceivably could end with three different teams having duos that averaged at least 25 points per game in playoff competition. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each scored 25-plus points per game in the 2016-17 playoffs for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who lost to Golden State in the Western Conference finals.
Here are all the duos who have accomplished this feat:
ELGIN BAYLOR/JERRY WEST, LOS ANGELES LAKERS
1962: Baylor: 38.6. West: 31.5
1963: Baylor: 32.6. West: 27.8
1966: West: 34.2. Baylor: 26.8.
1968: West: 30.8. Baylor: 28.5.
Notes: Remarkably, the Lakers were unable to win a title in any of these years. Each of these four seasons, they lost to the Boston Celtics in the Finals. They lost in Boston to seven in 1962 and 1966 and fell to the Celtics in six games in 1963 and 1968. Baylor scored 41 and West scored 35 in Game 7 in 1962, but the Lakers still lost 110-107. The 1966 Lakers fell 95-93 to Boston in Game 7 despite getting 36 points from West.
CHARLES BARKLEY/KEVIN JOHNSON, PHOENIX
1994: Barkley: 27.6. Johnson: 26.6
Notes: Even with this high-scoring duo, Phoenix still lost to the eventual champion Houston Rockets in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Johnson scored 25 points and Barkley had 24 points in a 104-94 Game 7 loss in Houston. They nearly matched this feat in the 1995 playoffs, as Barkley averaged 25.7 points per game and Johnson averaged 24.8 points per game while again leading Phoenix to the Western Conference semifinals.
KOBE BRYANT/SHAQUILLE O’NEAL, LOS ANGELES LAKERS
2001: O’Neal: 30.4. Bryant: 29.4.
2002: O’Neal: 28.5. Bryant: 26.6.
2003: Bryant: 32.1. O’Neal: 27.0.
Notes: Bryant and O’Neal both averaged over 25 points per game while leading the Lakers to the 2001 and 2002 titles, which gave Los Angeles a total of three consecutive championships. O’Neal had averaged 30.7 points per game and Bryant scored 21.1 points per game during the Lakers’ 2000 championship run. The Lakers lost to eventual champion San Antonio in six games in the 2003 Western Conference semifinals.
KEVIN DURANT/RUSSELL WESTBROOK, OKLAHOMA CITY
2014: Durant: 29.6. Westbrook: 26.7.
2016: Durant: 28.4. Westbrook: 26.0.
Notes: Durant and Westbrook have both exceeded 25 points per game in each of Oklahoma City’s last two postseason runs, as the Thunder failed to reach the playoffs in 2015. Oklahoma City lost a six-game Western Conference semifinal to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 and squandered a 3-1 lead in falling to Golden State in this year’s Western Conference finals.