Saturday, September 17, 2011

NBA Playoffs: “Murdered You On Your Own Shit” Awards, Part 4

LeBron James murdered the Boston Celtics on their own floor in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the Miami Heat the same way he murdered teams for the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron's playoff games with the Cavs made the Top Five of the "Murdered You on Your Own Shit" Award Series: NBA Playoffs Edition for the 20 best performances on the road by NBA players in the last 20 years.’s excellent “Murdered You On Your Own Shit” Awards inspired a new series of articles at the Miami Heat Index. The first article, Did the King Murder Wade On His Own Team focused on whether LeBron outplayed Wade on his own team last season. This article will focus on players that went on the road and murdered the other team on their own court in front of their own crowd and on the biggest stage: the playoffs.

In the last 20 years, 21 players have murdered the other team on their own court by scoring 40+ points on the road in an NBA playoff game, according to The "Murdered You On Your Own Shit" Award Series: NBA Playoffs Edition ranked players by the number of 40-point games on the road. All ties went to the player with the higher Win Score per 48 Minutes average. See the article Simple Models of Player Performance by sports economist David Berri for more information on Win Score.

And the top five awards go to...

Two murders. Highlight: At Golden State Warriors on May 4, 1994

Barkley led the Suns into Oakland, CA for Game 3 of the first round with a bad back and 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. He decided to get some extra rest for his back by posting the highest Win Score on the road in the last 20 years and completing the sweep of a Warriors team that evolved from Run TMC to Chris Mullin, Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell.

Barkley made his first 11 shots and finished with 27 points in the first quarter. According to the Los Angeles Times, he asked Golden State head coach Don Nelson if they were going to double-team him after he scored the Suns’ first 12 points. Nelson chose not to double him and Barkley responded with an NBA playoff record 38 points in the first half. Sir Charles finished with 56 points (third-highest in NBA playoff history) with 79 percent shooting efficiency, 14 rebounds and three steals.

Barkley said after the game, “Obviously, I was making a lot of shots tonight. They kind of forced the issue by not doubling me. I hope it's not the last time I see single coverage. I kind of like it." He saw it one year later when he dropped 47 points in Portland to sweep the Trailblazers out the first round of the playoffs.

4. Allen Iverson
Three murders. Highlight: At Los Angeles Lakers on June 6, 2001

The Lakers steamrolled through the 2001 NBA Playoffs and entered the Finals undefeated at 11-0. Game 1 of the series against Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers was a bloodbath.

The reigning MVP walked into the Staples Center and slaughtered Kobe Bryant. Iverson scored 48 points with 48 percent shooting efficiency, five rebounds, six assists and five steals. Kobe only scored 15 points with 32 percent shooting efficiency, three rebounds, six assists, six turnovers and four fouls.

Things got so bad after The Answer lit Kobe’s ass up for 30 points in the first half, that Phil Jackson had to switch Bryant (who was 2nd team all-defense) off Iverson and give the assignment to Tyronn Lue. Everyone knows how that ended for Lue in overtime.

Game 1 was the only game the Sixers won in the 2001 Finals, but it was a memorable one. Iverson is one of only two players to murder a team on their own shit in the Finals over the last 20 years.

Ironically, Iverson’s murder in the Finals was the least productive of his three murders in the playoffs. His other two great playoff games on the road were a double homicide against the Hornets franchise in Charlotte (2000) and New Orleans (2003). His murder in New Orleans was the rare elimination game murder to send the Hornets fishin’ in six games.

3. Kobe Bryant
Three murders. Highlight: At Sacrament Kings on May 13, 2001

Kobe’s killing spree started during the greatest playoff run in Lakers history. The 2001 Lakers only ranked 55th of 68 teams that made the NBA Finals from 1974-2007 in efficiency differential (points allowed per possession minus points scored per possession) at +3.6 points per 100 possessions. They went 15-1 in the playoffs with an efficiency differential of +13.9 points per 100 possessions to win the NBA Championship.

Kobe established himself as a great player during that incredible playoff run with back-to-back murders at Sacramento to sweep the Kings in the Western Conference Semifinals and at the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs to blow them out of Game 1 in the Western Conference Finals.

Jellybean committed his third murder eight years later in the 2009 Western Conference Finals against Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets.

2. LeBron James
Three murders. Highlight: At Atlanta Hawks on May 9, 2009

LeBron produced the third-best Win Score on the list (32.9) with 47 points on 70 percent shooting (5-10 from beyond the arc), 12 rebounds and eight assists in Atlanta to put the Cavs up 3-0 against the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. His most famous highlight, of course, is the 48-special he murked the Pistons with in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

LeBron ended his third murder by going glass for the game-winner with 5.7 seconds left in Game 3 of the against the Wizards.

1. Michael Jordan
Six murders. Highlight: At Miami Heat on April 29, 1992

Jordan's 56-point torture of the Heat to sweep them out of the franchise's first playoff series tied with Barkley for the highest scoring road game in the last 20 years of the NBA playoffs. He scored 56 points with 67 percent shooting efficiency, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks.

While most of the murders on this list came in the early rounds of the playoffs, Jordan went big game hunting for his kills. He committed three of his murders in the Finals and his least productive Finals murder ended with his most enduring image.

Jordan’s first murder in the Finals came against the Portland Trailblazers in 1992 to secure Game 5 so the Bulls could close them out at home in Chicago. His second murder in the Finals came against Barkley in Phoenix. After the Bulls snatched Game 1 from the Suns, Jordan battled the MVP to a draw on their personal scoreboard with 42 points apiece but the Bulls won the game because Horace Grant gave His Airness more support than Danny Ainge could give Sir Charles.

Jordan’s two remaining murders were committed against the Hornets in 1995 when he returned from baseball and the Magic in 1996 when he returned for revenge against the team that eliminated him from the playoffs the previous season.

This spreadsheet lists all the player stats for the “Murdered You On Your Own Shit” Awards Series: NBA Playoffs Edition.

Here’s a list of all players nominated for the “Murdered You On Your Own Shit” Awards Series: NBA Playoffs Edition:

See Part Three for players ranked 6-10, Part Two for players ranked 11-15 and Part One for players ranked 16-20.

What are your favorite playoff performances on the road in NBA history by a player? What are your favorite playoff performances on the road in NBA history by a team?

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