LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Move over, Boston Celtics.
You've got company on the most-titles-won list now, after sitting alone in that spot for more than a half-century.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ latest championship — clinched Sunday night with a win over the Miami Heat, ending the 2020 NBA Finals in six games — pulled the franchise into a tie with the Celtics for the most in NBA history, 17 apiece.
The Celtics beat the Lakers in the 1963 NBA Finals, giving Boston its sixth title to the Lakers’ five. For the past 20,990 days, Boston remained alone atop the list of most championships.
No more — not after the Lakers finally caught up.
When the 1986 season ended, Boston had 16 titles to L.A.’s nine. The championship count since is Lakers 8, Celtics 1.
Another game, another record for LeBron James.
Sunday’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat was the 260th of James’ playoff career, lifting him into sole possession of first place on the league’s post-season appearances list.
James is in his 17th season. After missing the playoffs in his first two seasons, he has reached the post-season 14 times in 15 years. His teams in Cleveland, Miami and now Los Angeles have gone 14-0 in first-round series with James on the roster, 11-3 in second-round series and 10-1 in the conference-final round. He's now 4-6 in the NBA Finals as well.
He had been tied with Derek Fisher for the top spot on the playoff games-played list with 259.
To put James’ post-season longevity into perspective, consider that 260 games is the equivalent of 3.2 full regular seasons. And out of the 4,489 players to have appeared in an NBA regular-season contest, 63% did not (or in the case of active players, have not) gotten into 260 games.
That means James’ post-season career alone has included more games than most NBA players’ entire careers.
Game 6 also was the 55th NBA Finals game of James’ career, tying him with Jerry West for fourth-most in league history. Bill Russell played in 70, Sam Jones in 64 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 56.
The Lakers started Alex Caruso in Game 6, his first start in this post-season and only the third of the season overall. The Lakers were 0-2 when he started in the regular season.
Dwight Howard went to the bench, so Anthony Davis went to centre to begin the game alongside LeBron James, Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Miami had point guard Goran Dragic back for Game 6, with him playing off the bench. He missed Games 2 through 5 after tearing his left plantar fascia in the first half of Game 1.
The Lakers’ Danny Green said he and his fiancée are aware of threats being directed at them on social media after Game 5, where he missed a shot in the final seconds that could have given his team the lead and quite possibly clinched the NBA title.
Green did not seem bothered about the threats when asked Sunday.
“It’s a basketball game,” Green said. “People are emotional. Fans are emotional. I hope they don’t take it that seriously. ... I know they’re just taking out their emotions and they need somebody to blame. It came down to that last play and of course I’m the easy target.”
Miami’s Tyler Herro entered Game 6 with 20 consecutive double-digit scoring games, a streak that was snapped when he scored seven on Sunday. That’s a record for a rookie in the NBA playoffs; Alvan Adams had a 19-game run in 1976.
Herro also owns the NBA record for 3-pointers by a rookie in the playoffs, with 48. Matt Maloney had 43 in 1997.
The breakdowns of offensive numbers this season outside and then inside the bubble show that on-court performance didn’t suffer at Walt Disney World.
In fact, some numbers are remarkably similar.
When the league shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 11, teams were averaging 111.5 points on 46% shooting, 36% from 3-point range and 77% from the line.
Since entering the bubble, entering Sunday, teams have averaged 112.9 points on 46% shooting, 36% on 3’s and 79% from the line.
The Lakers shot 84 for 239 from 3-point range in the series. Those are the most 3’s made and taken in a six-game NBA Finals.
The former mark for most 3’s made and taken through six games of the NBA Finals was set in 2016, when Golden State was 79 for 211.
GAME 6 REFS
James Capers, Tony Brothers and David Guthrie drew the assignment to officiate Game 6 of the NBA Finals. It was the second game for each in the series; Capers and Guthrie worked Game 2 and Brothers worked Game 3.
The NBA assigns 12 officials to the finals. Typically, the veteran referees are tabbed to work multiple games if the series extends. If that form held this year, it would have meant Scott Foster, Zach Zarba and John Goble would be the crew if the series was to reach Game 7 on Tuesday night.
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Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press