NBA’s Best 10 Season-Saving Game 6 Performances in the Last Decade

NBA’s Best 10 Season-Saving Game 6 Performances in the Last Decade

Edwin Kiplagat
May 11, 2023 at 9:44 AM
  • Game 6's in the NBA playoffs has produced some epic performances from NBA stars
  • Every playoff series in the 2023 postseason is at 3-2
  • For that reason, Sports Brief has looked at some NBA's memorable Game 6 performances in the last decade.

Every second-round series in the NBA playoffs is finely poised at 3-2 ahead of the season-defining 6's showdown. Teams that have won two games, the Warriors, Suns, Celtics, and Knicks, are in a win-or-go-home situation.

Players earn their stripes in that type of game. Therefore, they must step up and help their teams stave elimination from the postseason.

Klay Thompson, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, NBA, Warriors, Heat, Lakers, Sixers, Celtics, Suns, Nuggets, Clippers, Knicks
Game 6 has produced some unforgettable performances over the years. Photos by Noah Graham/NBAE, Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE and Barry Gossage/NBAE.
Source: Getty Images

Therefore, Sports Brief has looked at the best Game 6 performances in the last ten years. Some stand out, like 'Game 6 Klay' and some memorable LeBron James displays. But which other performances stand out? Here are some outstanding Game 6 displays per USA Today.

Top 10 Game 6 performances in the last decade

10. Josh Smith & Corey Brewer vs Clippers - 2015

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In 2015 the Houston Rockets faced playoff elimination and entered the Staples Center (now Arena) in Los Angeles, trailing the Clippers 3-2 in the Western Conference semifinals. They were down 12 with 8 minutes left in the game.

Rockets role players Josh Smith and Corey Brewer were the stars of the game. The duo combined for 29 points in the game, hitting several clutch shots in the fourth quarter. Smith hit a couple of three-pointers while Brewer scored five straight points to lead the Rockets to victory, per USA Today.

9. Game 6 Klay vs. Rockets - 2018

Klay Thompson has a habit of producing unforgettable performances in Game 6, earning him the nickname Game 6 Klay. The Warriors faced elimination in the Western Conference Finals in 2018, and Thompson stepped up to help them win 115-86. He scored 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting and 9-of-14 from deep as they forced Game 7, per NBC Sports.

They went on to win Game 7 and the NBA title for the second straight season.

8. Khris Middleton vs. Nets - 2021

Even with MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on the floor, Khris Middleton's 38 points saved the Milwaukee Bucks' season against the Brooklyn Nets in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference in 2021. He went 11-for-16 from the field, 5-for-8 from three, and 11-for-12 from the free-throw line, including some clutch buckets late in the game. His team won 104-89, per Sporting News.

They went on to win their first NBA title in 50 seasons, but it wouldn't have been possible without Middl 'son;'s Game 6 performance.

7. Kawhi Leonard vs. Mavericks - 2021

Leonard scored 45 points shooting 18-of-25 from the field and 5-of-9 from 3-point range to force Game 7 against the Mavericks in the first round of the 2021 playoffs. The Clippers went on to win Game 7 to set up a second-round series with the Utah Jazz. When healthy, Leonard always turns up when needed.

He was unfortunately injured in the fourth game in LA Clippers Western Conference semifinal series with the Jazz, in which he scored 31 points as the Clippers won 118-104.

6. LeBron James vs. Celtics - 2018

James was on fire in the 2018 Eastern Conference finals. He scored 46 points for the Cleveland Cavaliers in a win-or-go-home Game 6. He added 11 rebounds and nine assists as the Cavs won 109-99, per CBS Sports.

It was one of James' best playoff games. He led the Cavs to a Game 7 win and another finals clash against the Warriors in which they lost in four games.

5. LeBron James vs. Warriors - 2016

LeBron James followed up his 41-point performance in Game 5 with 41 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds, four steals, and three blocks in the 2016 NBA Finals.

Game 6 saw the Cavaliers tie the series 3-3 after the Warriors took a 3-1 series lead. He would go on to lead the Cavs to their only NBA title.

4. LeBron James vs. Spurs - 2013

Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals is remembered by Ray Allen's iconic three-pointer, which saved the Miami Heat from defeat to the San Antonio Spurs. However, Allen's three-pointer would not have been significant without James's heroics. Allen's shot tied the score up at 95-95 with 5.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

James led the team, despite his slow start, with a triple-double of 32 points, 11 assists, and ten rebounds, per Sporting News. He scored or assisted on 22 of the team's 30 points in the fourth quarter. He was also responsible for the team's six of their eight points over time. The Heat would go on to win their second straight NBA title.

3. Jimmy Butler vs. Celtics - 2022

Buttler has been on a roll in the last two postseasons. He led the Heat to the conference finals last season, and as an 8th seed, he helped the Heat upset favorites Bucks in the first round. In the 2022 conference finals, he produced an epic performance on the road to force Game 7 against the Celtics.

He scored 47 points, 6 of 29 shots — including 4 of 8 from 3-point range — and all 11 free throws, but the Heat fell short in Game 7 bas the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals, per AP.

2. Game 6 Klay vs. OKC Thunder - 2016

The 73-9 Warriors faced elimination in the conference finals, but Thompson would not let that happen. In Game 6, he destroyed the Oklahoma City Thunder, scoring 41 points on 14-of-31 shooting and 11-of-18 from deep, per Sporting News. They went on to win the series.

However, they would squander a 3-1 lead to the Cavs in the 2016 NBA Finals.

1. LeBron James vs. Celtics - 2012

James and the Heat trailed 3-2 heading to TD Garden for Game 6. NBA's all-time leading scorer took matters into his own hands, erupting for 45 points on 19-of-26 shooting, 15 rebounds, and five assists to force Game 7, per SI.

The Heat would go on to win the 2012 NBA Finals.

Game 6 Klay stats

Sports Brief earlier analyzed stats for Game 6 Klay ahead of Warriors vs. Lakers in Game 6.

The four-time NBA champion has played a total of 13 Game 6s in his career.

His averages in those games: 20.0 points on 42.8 percent shooting from the field and 47.7 percent from 3-point range.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Editor- Other Sports