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Michael Jordan Averaged At Least 30 PPG In 12 Of 13 Playoffs, The Only Time He Didn't Was During Rookie Season

Michael Jordan Averaged At Least 30 PPG In 12 Of 13 Playoffs, The Only Time He Did Not Average Was When He Was A Rookie

Thanks to Michael Jordan’s legendary playoff runs, it’s helped solidify his place as the greatest player of all time. Jordan’s perfect 6-0 mark in the NBA Finals and six Finals MVP trophies also help too. What we don’t dive into are the numbers. Those are equally impressive.

In 12 of 13 career playoff runs, Jordan averaged at least 30.0 points per game. The only time that Jordan didn’t average at least 30.0 points per game was when he was a rookie and he just missed the cut. Does this data support that he is the most dominant player in the history of the playoffs? Let’s take a look at the year-by-year playoff point totals.


1984-85 - 29.3 PPG

Thanks to Jordan, the Bulls went from a laughing stock to making the playoffs. The team had missed the playoffs the previous three years. The Bulls lost the series 3-1 to the Milwaukee Bucks, but Jordan made an incredible first impression in his first playoff appearance.

Jordan scored 117 total points and shot 43.6% from the field. To go with his 29.3 points per game, he also averaged 8.5 assists and 5.8 rebounds. In the end, the inexperienced Bulls were just no match.


1985-86 - 43.7 PPG

Jordan needed four games to score 117 points the previous year, but only three games this time to score 131 games. In their matchup against the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics, the Bulls were swept in three games, but Jordan scored 16 points more than his previous playoff experience. His assists were down by three as Jordan took only 18 more shots than last year.

Jordan shot 50.5% from the field. Despite scoring more than 40 points per game, the Celtics took care of the Bulls in three games. This would not be the first time that Jordan would average 40 points in a series though.


1986-87 - 35.7 PPG

Chicago was getting better, but their playoff success was still the same. The Bulls lost in the first round to the Celtics again in three games. Jordan averaged 35.7 points on 41.7% shooting. The Celtics had a better team as both Bird and Kevin McHale were a dominant duo.

Even if the Bulls had made the NBA Finals, the Showtime Lakers would have been waiting for them. It wouldn’t be until Jordan’s later part of his career that we would get to see that matchup.


1987-88 - 36.3 PPG

It took three years, but Jordan would win his first playoff series. In a year that saw him win the Defensive Player of the Year Award, he also displayed a strong offensive series. Jordan led the Bulls past the Cavaliers in a strong five-game series where he averaged 45.2 points per game. Without Jordan, who knows if the team would have been able to pull off the 3-2 win.

In the second round, Chicago was matched up with the Detroit Pistons. The combination of Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Bill Laimbeer set up a heated rivalry between the two franchises for the next two years. Jordan averaged 27.4 points and the Pistons defeated Chicago 4-1.


1988-89 - 35.0 PPG

The Cavaliers thought they had a chance for revenge, but the Bulls came out victorious in the first round once again with the legendary game-winner famously known as 'The Shot'. Jordan’s 39.8 points per game in the series once again proved to be a difference-maker. In the second round, Jordan pushed the team past the Knicks in six games where he averaged 35.7 points per game. This set up a rematch with the Pistons, but with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.

In the series, Jordan shot 10% less bad against the Pistons. Jordan averaged 29.7 points per game, but the Pistons defeated the Bulls in six games. Thomas would go on to lead the Pistons to the NBA Finals.


1989-90 - 37.3 PPG

A third straight year, the Bulls would meet the Pistons in the playoffs. To get there, Jordan averaged 36.8 points per game in a four-game series against the Bucks. In the second round, Jordan averaged 43.0 points per game in a five-game series against the 76ers. This would be one of the most heated matchups in the Conference Finals ever played.

The ongoing rivalry between the Pistons and Bulls already had bad blood between the two teams. In the end, the Pistons would win 4-3 despite Jordan averaging 32.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. This loss supposedly fueled Jordan and the Bulls to get into the weight room and make a run at a title the following year.


1990-91 - 30.9 PPG

The first of the three titles during this span resulted in a dominant playoff run. First, Jordan averaged 29.0 points in a three-game sweep over the Knicks. In the second round, Jordan averaged 33.4 points in a 4-1 series win over the 76ers. This would set up the Bad Boys Pistons and the Bulls for a fourth straight year in the playoffs.

With a trip to the Finals on the line, Jordan averaged 29.8 points per game in a four-game sweep over the Pistons. It was the historic moment that the Pistons players refused to shake the hands of the Bulls, which some conspire to believe as the reason that Thomas was left off the 1992 Dream Team. In the Finals, Jordan won Finals MVP by averaging 31.2 points and 11.4 assists in a 4-1 defeat of the Lakers and Magic Johnson.


1991-92 - 36.0 PPG

The Miami Heat didn’t stand a chance in the first round. In the three-game sweep, Jordan averaged 45.0 points per game, which is the highest per-game total among all of his playoff series competitions. In the second round, Jordan averaged 31.3 points in a seven-game series against the Knicks.

In the Conference Finals, Jordan averaged 31.7 points per game in a 4-2 win over the Cavaliers. His performance was followed by 35.8 points per game against the Trail Blazers. His totals netted him his second straight NBA Finals MVP.


1992-93 - 34.6 PPG

Jordan continued a trend with a strong first-round playoff appearance. Against the Hawks, the Bulls wept Atlanta 3-0 as Jordan averaged 34.3 points per game. However, Jordan was consistent the next two series. In the second round, Jordan averaged 31.0 points in a 4-0 sweep of Cleveland and 32.2 points in a 4-2 win over the Knicks.

To claim the three-peat, Jordan had to get legendary status. Jordan averaged 41.0 points per game to push the team past the Suns and 1993 MVP Charles Barkley. The 41.0 points per game remains a Finals record.


1994-95 - 31.7 PPG

Jordan memorably came back in the middle of the 1994-1995 season, so he wasn’t the same player that we had seen in the years past. Even though he was getting his conditioning back to peak form, Jordan still averaged 32.3 points per game in the 3-1 win over the Charlotte Hornets in the first round. However, the Bulls were defeated by the Magic 4-2 in the second round.

In that series, Jordan averaged 31.0 points per game. The combination of Shaq and Penny Hardaway led the Magic to the NBA Finals, where the Rockets won their second straight title. It would be the rebirth of Jordan’s greatness before their second three-peat.


1995-96 - 30.7 PPG

Jordan nearly missed 30 points per game, but it all worked out as the Bulls set a record for wins in a season with 72 and won their fourth title together. The playoff run began with 30.0 points per game against the Heat in a three-game sweep. In the second round, Jordan averaged 36.0 points per game against the Knicks.

In the Conference Finals, Jordan got his revenge to lead the Bulls to a four-game sweep over the Magic, where Jordan averaged 29.5 points per game. In the Finals, the SuperSonics’ Gary Payton played some of the best defense in the Finals to help hold Jordan to only 27.3 points per game.


1996-97 - 31.6 PPG

Jordan looked vintage in the first round when he averaged 37.3 points per game in a three-game sweep over Washington. However, in the second round, he averaged his lowest points per game in a series at 26.6. With that said, the Bulls pushed past the Hawks in five games. The Conference Finals were an equal breeze, as Jordan led the team past the Heat in five games where he averaged 30.2 points per game.

In the Finals, the Bulls had a tough task against the Jazz. The combination of John Stockton and Karl Malone was a tough force to stop. Jordan came out on top as he averaged 32.3 points per game.


1997-98 - 32.8 PPG

In Jordan’s final playoff appearance in his career, the Bulls completed their second three-peat. In the first round, Jordan averaged 36.3 points in a three-game sweep over the Nets. In the second round, Jordan averaged 29.6 points in a five-game, 4-1 win over the Hornets. It wouldn’t be until the Conference Finals that the team would meet their first real test.

Reggie Miller had a mission to dethrone the champ, but Jordan’s 31.7 points per game led the Bulls past the Pacers in seven games. This setup the rematch against the Jazz, where Malone had won the regular season MVP. Jordan was supposedly upset about that, so he came to play as he averaged 33.5 points per game in the Finals to win his sixth Finals MVP. 

Credit for an idea: Timeout Hoops

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