May 28, 2017

The 15 players that have scored the most points in one NBA playoff game

2017/05/03 8:56 pm 8:56 pm8:56 pm1 0 comments

jordan goes for 63 vs. boston celtics

Forget the regular season, the NBA Playoffs is when professional basketball legends are made. It’s no coincidence that when we talk about the best players in NBA history, the ones at the top have multiple championships. Simply, the playoffs are when the competition is at it’s highest, the stress of crunch time is at its highest and it’s when championships are won.

Michael Jordan’s 63 Points vs Boston Celtics

In 1986, Michael Jordan put on the most prolific individual performance in NBA playoffs history. Jordan poured in 63 points and played so good that Larry Bird even referenced him as divine. Said Bird after Game 2 of their 1986 Eastern Conference first round series:

“I think he’s God disguised as Michael Jordan. He is the most awesome player in the NBA. Today in Boston Garden, on national TV, in the playoffs, he put on one of the greatest shows of all time. I couldn’t believe that anybody could do that to the Boston Celtics.”

The Celtics are the NBAs winningest franchise with the most NBA titles won. Along with the Lakers, they dominated the 1980s. But the then 23 year old Michael Jordan virtually toyed with every defender Boston put on him en route to scoring 63 points, topping Elgin Baylor’s record of 61 points established 24 years earlier.

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Of his 63 points, Jordan scored 42 points against Hall of Fame guards Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge. His Airness went 19-22 on pull up shots, 8-14 on drives to the basket and 2-5 on other shots. In all, 38 of his 41 field goal attempts were contested, making his effort even more impressive.

Jordan’s Bulls would eventually lose the game in double overtime but Jordan’s otherworldly performance remains as the best ever in NBA Playoffs history. Let’s take a look at the 10 players that have scored the most points in an NBA playoff game.

The Most Points in an NBA Playoff Game (individual)
Player Points Team Round Game / Opponent Date
Michael Jordan 63 Chicago Bulls First Round Game 2 vs Boston Celtics 4/20/1986
Elgin Baylor 61 Los Angeles Lakers NBA Finals Game 5 vs Boston Celtics 4/16/1962
Charles Barkley 56 Phoenix Suns First Round Game 3 vs Golden State Warriors 5/4/1994
Michael Jordan 56 Chicago Bulls First Round Game 3 vs Miami Heat 4/29/1992
Wilt Chamberlain 56 Philadelphia Warriors Divisional Finals Game 5 vs Syracuse Nationals 3/22/1962
Allen Iverson 55 Philadelphia 76ers First Round Game 1 vs Charlotte Hornets 04/20//2003
Michael Jordan 55 Chicago Bulls First Round Game 2 vs Washington Bullets 4/27/1997
Michael Jordan 55 Chicago Bulls NBA Finals Game 4 vs Phoenix Suns 6/16/1993
Michael Jordan 55 Chicago Bulls First Round Game 2 vs Cleveland Cavaliers 5/1/1988
Rick Barry 55 Golden State Warriors NBA Finals Game 3 vs Philadelphia 76ers 4/18/1967
Allen Iverson 54 Philadelphia 76ers Conference Semifinals Game 2 vs Toronto Raptors 5/9/2001
Michael Jordan 54 Chicago Bulls Conference Finals Game 4 vs New York Knicks 5/31/1993
John Havlicek 54 Boston Celtics Conference Semifinals Game 1 vs Atlanta Hawks 4/1/1973
Isaiah Thomas 53 Boston Celtics Conference Semifinals Game 2 vs Washington Wizards 5/2/2017
Jerry West 53 Los Angeles Lakers NBA Finals Game 1 vs Boston Celtics 4/23/1969
Allen Iverson 52 Philadelphia 76ers Conference Semifinals Game 5 vs. Toronto Raptors 05/16/2001
Jerry West 52 Los Angeles Lakers Division Finals Game 2 vs. Baltimore Bullets 05/04/1965
Russell Westbrook 51 Oklahoma City Thunder First Round Game 2 vs. Houston Rockets 04/19/2017
Ray Allen 51 Boston Celtics First Round Game 6 vs. Chicago Bulls 04/30/2009
Sleepy Floyd 51 Golden State Warriors Conference Semifinals Game 4 vs. Los Angeles Lakers 05/10/1987
Sam Jones 51 Boston Celtics Division Semifinals Game 4 vs. New York Knicks 03/28/1967

Note: Wilt Chamberlain at #16 also scored 53 points in Game 3 of the 1960 Eastern Division Semifinals against the Syracuse Nationals on March 14, 1960.

Obviously, these are the NBA playoff high in points for these players. For these players’ regular season career highs, check out this post. Looking for the championship superstars you’d expect to see, but don’t, you realize just how difficult it is to really “go off” in the playoffs. There’s no Kobe or Kareem. No Shaq or LeBron. No Bird. No Isiah Thomas, Tim Duncan or Hakeem Olajuwon.

(Kobe did score 50, Hakeen scored 49, and LeBron scored 49 twice)

And those missing names just underscores the greatness of Jordan. Although Jordan’s 63 points came in a double overtime loss to the Boston Celtics in 1986. His Airness also owns five other entries in the Top 15 list. Jordan and Elgin Baylor are the only players to score at least 60 in a playoff game while MJ is the only player to score 55 points or more more than one time in the playoffs. In all and not surprisingly, Michael Jordan has six of the Top 15 highest scoring games in NBA playoff history.

Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain each have two entries to the list.

Jordan may be the one player that owns the most entries on this list, but the team with the most players comes from the Boston Celtics with John Havlicek, Ray Allen, Sam Jones, and Isaiah Thomas. Given how Isaiah has carried the load for the current Boston Celtics, it won’t be surprising to see at another all-time offensive outburst from the diminutive Celtics leader.

Nor would we be surprised to see Westbrook make the list again, or James Harden or Stephen Curry to hit 50 or more in the postseason.

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