The NBA’s regular season is great and all but none of that matters when it’s playoff time. The best players on earth prove why they’re superstars by outperforming their rivals, while other stars are criticized for constantly falling short of their goals.
NBA superstars have been at their best during the playoffs. It’s always been like that. Even so, there have been some ground-breaking performances that have set the standards for those who came after. Up to this day, however, no other player has been able to top them.
We’ve seen some incredible marks and records in the playoffs throughout the course of NBA history. Today, we’re going to let you know about some of the most impressive, and you’ll be the judge as to when they can be broken and who can break them:
Michael Jordan – 63 Points
Michael Jordan had already made a name for himself as one of the best players in the world but he truly introduced himself to the league when he scored 63 points vs. the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the 1986 playoffs. That was during his second year in the league.
Even Larry Bird went on to claim that it wasn’t Michael Jordan but God disguised as him. Sadly, his Chicago Bulls still lost 135-131 in double overtime but it was clear that His Airness was destined for greatness. This record seems likely to go down any time soon, though.
Wilt Chamberlain – 41 Rebounds
Bill Russell was a bit of Wilt Chamberlain’s record throughout most of his career. Wilt, being as competitive as he was, always brought his A-Game when he had to face the Boston Celtics and that was definitely the case on the 1967 playoffs.
Chamberlain grabbed a whopping 41 rebounds vs. the legendary Celtics’ big man and led his team to a 115-104 win over Boston. He also scored 20 points on 57% shooting with 9 assists. The Philadelphia 76ers went on to win the Championship that year.
Magic Johnson – 24 Assists
Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard to ever live. He still holds the record for the highest assists per game average with 11.2 and would be the league’s all-time leader in dimes if he hadn’t retired early due to his HIV diagnosis.
That’s why it’s not a surprise to know that Magic set the record for most assists in a playoffs game (24) during a 108-102 victory vs. the Phoenix Suns in 1984. That gave the Lakers a 2-0 lead in the Series. They made it to the Finals but lost to the Boston Celtics in 7 games.
John Stockton – 24 Assists
If Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard to ever live then John Stockton must be 1B to his 1A. He still holds the record for most career assists with 15,806. He also led the league in dimes 9 straight years and holds the record for the highest assists per game average in one season at 14.54.
So, if someone was supposed to tie Magic Johnson’s record of 24 assists on a playoff game that had to be John Stockton. He did it four years later in 1988 but the Utah Jazz still lost 111-109 to the Los Angeles Lakers. They lost that series in 7 games.
Hakeem Olajuwon – 10 Blocks
Hakeem Olajuwon is the greatest rim protector of all time. He led the league in blocks three times and owns an impressive 3.1 blocks per game average throughout his career. He’s also the league’s all-time leader in blocks with 3,830, a record unlikely to be topped any time soon.
Moreover, Olajuwon established an NBA record by blocking 10 shots in 1990 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. He did it in game 2 of the first round of the playoffs and added 11 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals but his team still lost 104-100.
Andrew Bynum – 10 Blocks
Andrew Bynum was a special talent. He could go vs. the strongest, most skilled big men in the world even as a rookie and wasn’t going to back down on either side of the floor against anybody. Sadly, injuries, a poor work ethic, and his own character derailed his promising career.
Even so, the former Lakers’ big man still holds one of the most impressive records ever. He tied Olajuwoon’s 10 blocks in a playoffs game vs. the Denver Nuggets in 2012. The Lakers demolished the Nuggets 103-88 in game 1 of that series and ended up on top after seven games.
Mark Eaton – 10 Blocks
Mark Eaton is perhaps the greatest rim protector you’ve never heard about. He was a shot-blocking machine throughout his entire career and still holds the records for the highest blocks-per-game average in a season (5.6), highest blocks per game average per his career (3.5), and most blocks in one season (456).
Eaton wasn’t much of a contributor to any other aspect of the game but he sure made the most of his skills when the Jazz faced the Rockets in the 1985 playoffs. Eaton scored just 8 points but blocked 10 shots. Sadly, his team still lost 96-94 that game.
Allen Iverson – 10 Steals
Allen Iverson is worldwide recognized by his offensive outbursts, his crafty moves, his crossover, and his incredibly prolific handles. However, an aspect we don’t mention enough about his game is his ability to pile up steals as fast as he scores points.
Iverson led the league in steals 3 straight years and retired with 2.2 steals per game. But his most impressive performance in that regard definitely came in the 1999 playoffs when the Sixers faced the Magic. He got 10 steals, 33 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists to lead his team to a 97-85 triumph.
James Harden – 12 Turnovers
James Harden is one of the greatest scorers of all time. He’s an unstoppable offensive juggernaut that’ll score at will even against the best defenders on earth but he’s also made a name for himself for turning the ball over a lot and underperforming in the playoffs.
And, sadly, both of those things combined when the Rockets faced the Warriors in game 5 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals. He turned the ball over 12 times and scored just 14 points on 2-11 shooting. Needless to say, the Warriors made the most of those turnovers and beat the Rockets 104-90.