Sunday night the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will meet in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, with the visiting Cavaliers looking to become the first team ever to erase a 3-1 deficit in the league’s championship series. While Cleveland can do something that’s never been done in NBA history while also winning the city’s first pro sports title since 1964, Golden State will look to become the 12th team (seventh franchise) to win back-to-back NBA titles.
But how many championship series have managed to go the distance in the history of the NBA? Counting tonight’s matchup, 19 NBA Finals series have required the full seven games to determine a champion with the 2013 matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat being the most recent prior to this year.
1951: Rochester Royals def. New York Knicks
1952: Minneapolis Lakers def. New York Knicks
1954: Minneapolis Lakers def. Syracuse Nationals
1955: Syracuse Nationals def. Fort Wayne Pistons
1957: Boston Celtics def. St. Louis Hawks
1960: Boston Celtics def. St. Louis Hawks
1962: Boston Celtics def. Los Angeles Lakers
1966: Boston Celtics def. Los Angeles Lakers
1969: Boston Celtics def. Los Angeles Lakers
1970: New York Knicks def. Los Angeles Lakers
1974: Boston Celtics def. Milwaukee Bucks
1978: Washington Bullets def. Seattle SuperSonics
1984: Boston Celtics def. Los Angeles Lakers
1988: Los Angeles Lakers def. Detroit Pistons
1994: Houston Rockets def. New York Knicks
2005: San Antonio Spurs def. Detroit Pistons
2010: Los Angeles Lakers def. Boston Celtics
2013: Miami Heat def. San Antonio Spurs
Sunday night will mark the first NBA Finals Game 7 for both franchises. The franchise with the most NBA Finals Game 7 appearances is the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers franchise, which has played in nine such games with a record of four wins and five defeats. The Boston Celtics are next in line with eight NBA Finals Game 7 appearances, with a record of seven wins to just one defeat.
Of the 18 prior NBA Finals Game 7’s, only three were won by the visiting team. The Boston Celtics did so twice, beating the Lakers in 1969 and the Bucks in 1974, and the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) won in Seattle in 1978.