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June 4, 2021

LeBron James’ Unprecedented First-Round NBA Playoff Loss By The Numbers


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 03: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives on Devin Booker … [+] #1 of the Phoenix Suns in the fourth quarter during game six of the Western Conference first round series at Staples Center on June 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

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The King is done.

Long live the King.

For the first time in his legendary career, LeBron James has lost a first-round playoff series.

James and the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers were humbled by Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns, 113-100, in Game 6 at Staples Center and lost the series 4-2. James had been a perfect 14-0 in the first round prior to losing to the rising Suns, who were led by Booker’s 47 points and 11 rebounds.

Here’s a look at LeBron’s unprecedented loss By the Numbers:

1 — Number of teams remaining who made the Final Four in the Orlando bubble last summer. With the Lakers, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics all bowing out in the first round, only the Denver Nuggets remain from the teams who reached the conference finals in the bubble.

2 — The number of players with a better series record in first-round matchups than James. Robert Horry and Derek Fisher were both 16-0 in opening rounds. For comparison’s sake, Karl Malone and John Stockton were both 10-9, Michael Jordan was 10-3 and Kobe Bryant was 13-2. James is now 14-1-.

3 — James and the Lakers never led in Game 6. It was just the third time in LeBron’s career he lost a playoff game while never leading.

6 —Number of defending champions to lose in the first round under the current playoff format (beginning in 1984). The Lakers joined the 2015 Spurs (to the Clippers), the 2012 Mavericks (Thunder), the 2007 Heat (Bulls), the 2000 Spurs (Suns) and the 1984 76ers (Nets) among defending champions to fall in the first round.

14-11 — James’ record in elimination games. His Cleveland teams were 9-8 when facing elimination, his Miami teams were 5-2 and he’s now 0-1 with the Lakers.

21 — James’ teams once won 21 consecutive first-round games, a stint spanning 2012 through the start of the 2018 playoffs with Miami and Cleveland.

23.3 — James’ scoring average in this series against Phoenix. That is his lowest average in 15 career first-round matchups. He had a lower average in only two of his 49 previous playoff series; he averaged 22.0 points in Cleveland’s 2007 NBA Finals loss to San Antonio and 17.8 points in Miami’s 2011 NBA Finals loss to Dallas.

+450 — The Lakers were the 2nd favorite after the Brooklyn Nets to win the NBA title. The Clippers are the 3rd favorite and if they lose Game 6 to Luka Doncic and the Mavericks Friday night, 2 of the top 3 favorites will be out.

The Suns, the No. 2 seed in the West, are the 7th favorite at +1500, per Caesars William Hill.

The AP contributed reporting.

Forbes – SportsMoney June 4, 2021 at 04:41PM Adam Zagoria, Contributor

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