The greatest player of this era is about to put on the greatest playoffs show of...maybe ever.
It's hard to place a lid on James' statistical potential, as he's doing things that have never been done before. But with the use of data from this season, a prediction can be made that James is about to post the greatest postseason numbers of all time.
James flexed his greatness in Game 1 of the Milwaukee-Miami series Sunday, as the Heat rolled to a 110-87 victory against the overmatched Bucks.
James’ opening act included 27 points on 81.8 percent shooting. That isn’t a typo. He finished 9-of-11 from the field to go along with 10 rebounds and eight assists.
He’s about to rewrite history on his way to a second consecutive championship. And if he does, he will press tightly against the conversation of all-time greatest.
The Miami Heat had a 27-game winning streak this season, but it might just be the second-best streak brought to you by James this season.
James kicked off the Heat’s win streak with a historic six-game streak of 30-plus points while shooting better than 60 percent from the field between Feb. 3 and Feb. 12. That was part of a month of February in which James averaged 29.7 points on 64.1 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists.
He could repeat for this postseason. He’s already carrying similar are-you-serious stat lines into the playoffs.
To give context to what James could accomplish, it's a must to compare him to Michael Jordan, the guy known as the greatest of all time. James has an unparalleled ability that moves him away from mortal and closer to the everlasting ghost of Michael Jordan.
Jordan’s six titles provide heaps of backing, but his premier playoff performance came in his first run at the title, when he scored 31.1 points on 52.4 percent shooting and averaged 6.4 rebounds and 8.4 assists.
But James is reaching that tier. Here are James' career postseason numbers in 115 games:
|PTS||FG% ||3PT % ||AST||REB|
Last season, the Heat went 16-7, including a five-game series win against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the finals.
James set a high bar for 2013 and shook any notion that he can't win a title, creating a rhythm as an unstoppable offensive leader.
|2011-12 postseason||30.3||50.0 ||25.9 ||5.6||9.7|
This year, James could do better. He's set the tone with an incredible regular season, and likely his fourth Most Valuable Player Award:
|2012-13 season||26.8||56.5 ||40.6 ||7.3||8.0|
Obviously, the curtain just lifted this postseason. But here’s a series-by-series prediction of what could be an unprecedented postseason run by the Heat star.
Round 1 vs. Milwaukee Bucks (4-0 Heat series win)
|Points||FG %||3PT %||AST||REB|
|Season series (4 games) ||27.5||55.6 ||33.3 ||7.3||8.3|
|First-round prediction||30.5||58.8 ||40.2 ||8.5||9.0|
The first piece of evidence from Sunday exposed the Bucks. Of course, Milwaukee isn't alone on that:
Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Brooklyn Nets (4-1 Heat series win)
|PTS||FG %||3PT %||AST ||REB|
|Season series (3 games) ||21.7 ||55.6 ||66.7 ||7.0||10.0|
|Conference semifinals prediction||25.2 ||57.8 ||45 ||7.0||9.0|
The Nets appear ready to slip past the Chicago Bulls and into the crushing talents of James and Co.
At the end of January, Nets forward Reggie Evans stated that the Heat's championship "doesn't prove nothing," as it was a lockout-shortened season. Oh, how ridiculous.
Said Evans, via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
Our team is defending the Miami Heat. If our team has to defend one person, LeBron isn’t going to score nothing. . . . LeBron is no different from Joe Johnson or Andray Blatche. No different. People need help (defending certain players). Some people don’t need help. Everybody has to be double-teamed, it doesn’t matter who you are. You just have to stop LeBron in transition.
James then tweeted:
His performance against the Nets backed up his words.
Eastern Conference Finals vs. New York Knicks (4-2 Heat series win)
|PTS||FG %||3PT %||AST||REB|
|Season series (3 games) ||27.7 ||52.5 ||50.0 ||7.0||9.3|
|Conference finals prediction||33.0 ||56 ||44.2 ||8.3||9.7|
The Knicks and Madison Square Garden offer quite the stage for King James.
James has always played well against the Knicks. He averages 27.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 33 regular-season games vs. New York.
James and the Heat knocked off the Knicks in the opening round of last season's postseason in five games.
In that series, it was James pitted against Carmelo Anthony. Both superstars averaged 27.8 points, but James shot 48 percent to Anthony's 42 percent. James also had more assists than Anthony, 5.6 to 2.2.
NBA Finals vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (4-3 Heat series win)
|PTS||FG %||3PT %||AST||REB|
|Season series (2 games) ||34.0 ||59.1 ||36.4 ||8.0||10.0|
|Finals prediction||33.1 ||58.1 ||41.0 ||8.6||10.6|
A finals rematch will have a similar ending, only this time it will go seven games.
As improved as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are, last year's hero will reign again.
Unfortunately for Durant, the regular season's runner-up for MVP, he may need to get used to finishing behind one of the greatest of all time.
The championship victory and another Finals MVP will go to James.
2012-13 postseason prediction in 22 total games to a championship:
|Postseason prediction||30.8 ||57.8 ||42.6 ||8.1||9.7|
Shocking. Ghastly. Unrealistic.
Actually, those aren't inflated numbers—they are wholly realistic predictions.
None of this is hyperbole.
If James finishes with that style of postseason glory and wins his second crown, he joins the growing conversation among the five greatest players of all time.
Make sure you're watching.