2022 NBA Finals – Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kawhi Leonard top All-Game 4 in the Finals

Players from the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors will try to add their names to the list of great performances in NBA Finals history. And with the NBA wrapping up its 75th anniversary season, it’s a perfect time to take a look at the best individual efforts we’ve ever seen on the league championship tour.

We’ll do this on a game-by-game basis throughout the 2022 Finals, selecting a team of six players – all five positions plus a sixth man – from each game during the series (Game 1s, Game 2s and so on).

There’s no definitive formula for what constitutes Finals greatness, though I’ll rely on the Game Points scale developed by John Hollinger Games as available on Basketball-Reference.com since player turnover was first tracked in the 1977-78 season.

The all-time Game 4s feature a famous shot at the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, a duel between the best player and two-time title holder, and one of the NBA’s all-time greats. Let’s take a look back.


Point Guard: Magic Johnson | 1987 Lakers vs Celtics

statistics: 29 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists

From a performance standpoint, this wasn’t necessarily the greatest of Magic 4. (He had the best results in both 1980’s, coming within a pass and triple-double, and 1982.) So consider this an acknowledgment of one special moment.

One down after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar split two free throws, the Lakers grabbed the ball in the final seconds. They went to Johnson, then the NBA Most Valuable Player for the first time. Magic scored a win over what he referred to after the match as the “little, budding sky hook” – his version of Karim’s famous shot.

“You expect to lose at Heaven’s Hook,” Baird said afterward. “Don’t expect it to be magic.”

When I ranked the NBA Finals games in 2016, this game came in sixth place all-time thanks to the classic finish.

The Lakers climbed 3-1 in the series, then beat Boston in six games – their second title in three head-to-head matches among the best NBA teams of the 1980s.


Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan | 1993 Bulls vs. Suns

statistics: 55 points, 21-37 FGs, 8 rebounds

Chicago needed nearly every bucket to outsmart Charles Barkley and Phoenix. Three days into a triple OT three days ago, Jordan had plenty in the tank. He had the biggest hit of the match by just two points in the last 30 seconds, hitting a runner with a foul on Barkley in a three-point play.

Jordan hit 21 of 37 off the field, posting another 13 off the foul streak, in his only 50-point Finals game ever. Then his teammate Scott Williams joked that he was proud of his previous two Tar heels on the Bulls together for 57 points – after Williams contributed two points from the bench in 14 minutes.

Only Elgin Baylor in 1962 scored more points in a final game than Jordan did in Game Four in 1993.


Junior striker: Kawhi Leonard | 2019 Raptors vs Warriors

statistics: 36 points, 12 rebounds, 4 steals

Golden State had even been hoping for the series at home in pursuit of a third consecutive title, and got Klay Thompson back into the lineup after missing the third game.

Leonard had other plans. Reflecting the Warriors’ usual dominance after the break, Kouhai scored 17 points in a 5-of-8 shot in the third quarter alone as Toronto fell from four in the first half to 12 and entered the fourth quarter en route to a 105-92 win on the road. .

Leonard finished with 36 points, a new record in the finals, making five three-pointers and all nine of his free throw attempts. He also led the way in defense with 11 defensive planks and four steals.


Strength Striker: Charles Barkley | 1993 Suns vs Bulls

statistics: 32 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists

Barkley was knocked out at the end of the losing game with Jordan, but he was still in control. Between his 10 field goals and 10 assists, Barkley was responsible for more than half of Phoenix’s 38 field goals as he scored his fourth career after a triple-season and first in the Finals.

On a normal night, Barkley’s miserable shooting in 12 of 15 stories might be even bigger. But in this respect, as in the game and the series, Jordan surpassed him.


Position: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar | 1974 Bucks vs Celtics

statistics: 34 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists

According to his reputation, Abdul-Jabbar was consistent in his consistency during the 1974 Finals. He had at least 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists four times during his seven-game streak against Boston.

Milwaukee needed a 2-1 win on the road, and Abdul-Jabbar beat Dave Queens in a match between the best players of the past. Abdul-Jabbar shot 14 of 24 from the field and blocked three shots, while Queens limited to 24 points in 10 of 23 and seven rebounds. As a team, the Celtics fired just 41% from the field in a 97-89 win for the Bucks, although Boston would go on to win the series.


Sixth Man: Jerry West | 1970 Lakers vs Knicks

statistics: 37 points, 18 assists

For the second consecutive game, Game 4 of the 1970 Finals went into overtime in the Forum. Although West’s 60-foot tail did not prevent New York’s overtime win in Game 3, this time the Lakers had the upper hand in the overtime session.

West was the main culprit, participating in 31 of the Lakers’ 46 field goals between his team’s top 13 goals and 18 assists (five more than West has achieved in any other Final). The Lakers also had 30 points from Elgin Baylor, 18 points, 25 rebounds, and 7 assists from Wilt Chamberlain as they tied the series 2-2. The Lakers eventually lost in Game 7 remembered for playing inspiring Willis Reid through injury.

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