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The Most Points Scored In A Playoff Game By Tiers: Michael Jordan's 63-Point Performance Is Still Untouchable

The Most Points Scored In A Playoff Game By Tiers: Michael Jordan's 63-Point Performance Is Still Untouchable

The NBA playoffs are well underway as the Conference Finals series are set, with most NBA stars having already shown up for their teams. After all, NBA superstars have the most pressure to perform and their performances will dictate how the season ends for their teams. Superstars often show up and put forth fantastic performances to spearhead their teams to victory. We crown an NBA champion every year and getting through each playoff series is the most essential part of being in the postseason.

The postseason is where the best NBA players are judged because performing on the brightest stage usurps what is done in the regular season. In almost all situations, the best player on a playoff team must score a ton of points to lead his team to victory. That will not change, and it will probably be even more pronounced in the modern NBA, where scoring 30 points has never been easier thanks to spectacular coaching sets and spread offenses along with rules favoring offensive players.

Here are the 25 players with the most points scored in playoff history, where we might get a very interesting perspective on the careers of some of the greatest players ever. It is important to note that these players will be split into 6 tiers: 51-52 points scored, 53-54 points scored, 55 Points Scored, 56 Points scored, 60-62 Points Scored, and 63 Points Scored.


Tier 6: 51+ Points Scored


Sam Jones - 51 Points

03/28/1967 Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks

Sam Jones played 12 seasons with the Boston Celtics, and during that time, he won 10 NBA championships, the 2nd most after legendary Bill Russell's 11 titles. Sam is only one of four players who have scored more than 50 points in Celtics history.

In 1967, he scored 51 points against the New York Knicks in the Eastern Division Semifinals, where the Boston Celtics beat the Knicks 118-109 and finished the series with a final result of 4-0. Jones scored 19 field goals and 13 free throws, and he was the clear MVP of that game. John Havlicek had 17 points, while the best Celtic ever, Bill Russell, scored 4 points with 16 rebounds and 2 assists.


Sleepy Floyd - 51 Points

5/10/1987 Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Sleepy Floyd is one of the most talented guards in NBA history, and he proved it during the 1987 playoffs when he led the Golden State Warriors to battle against Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. Floyd chipped in 51 points, 10 assists, and 4 steals in an epic performance.

As expected, the Warriors would win the game 129-121, and take the only victory in the entire series, as the Lakers would have too much firepower for Sleepy to keep up with. Still, Floyd’s epic performance ranks among the top-25 performances ever, and his name should be etched in Warriors lore because of that.


Ray Allen - 51 Points

4/30/2009 Boston Celtics @ Chicago Bulls

Ray Allen is arguably a top-3 shooter of all time, as he ranks 2nd all-time in 3-pointers made and also had some massive performances from the perimeter over his career. Allen scored 51 points against the Chicago Bulls in Game 6 of the 2009 First Round of the playoffs.

Allen went 50% from the 3-point line by going 9-18 and also hit 18 of his 32 total shots. An elite marksman who is exceptional at moving without the ball and spotting up from deep, Allen’s shooting was not quite enough as the Bulls would win Game 6, regardless. Luckily for Allen and Boston, they would win the series at the end.


Russell Westbrook - 51 Points

4/19/2017 Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets

Scoring 51 points in a playoff game as a point guard is no easy feat, but Russell Westbrook certainly had the capabilities to do that almost anytime he wanted. Russ is one of the most athletic players of all time, and he was on a tear during the 2017 season without Kevin Durant by his side.

The triple-double machine scored 51 points on 39.5% shooting, typical numbers for a heavy usage guard. But Westbrook registered a ridiculous triple-double as well, adding in 10 rebounds and 13 assists against the Houston Rockets. OKC would lose the game, however, as the Rockets were a deeper team at the time.


LeBron James - 51 Points

5/31/2018 Cleveland @ Golden State Warriors

Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals will forever be known as the ultimate “meme game” because a late J. R. Smith blunder hurt Cleveland’s chances to steal a Game 1 victory over the Golden State Warriors superteam. Smith’s blunder also ruined LeBron’s 51-point virtuoso performance, possibly his greatest offensive performance yet.

The King went 19-32 from the field and also chipped in 8 rebounds and 8 assists in one of the greatest Finals performances ever. Carrying a decent but unspectacular side, James had a massive load to carry and saw his 51-point performance go to waste as the Cavaliers would get swept in the series.


Donovan Mitchell - 51 Points

8/23/2020 Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets

Donovan Mitchell tends to have big games in the playoffs, and the 2020 season was another example of that. Leading the Jazz to a 129-127 victory in Game 4 in the First Round, Mitchell went ballistic by nailing 51 points on 55.6% shooting from the field.

Donovan is not only a superb athlete that can score around the rim and get off the floor with ease, but he has a solid jumper when his rhythm is going. Mitchell went 4-7 from three and also 17-18 from the stripe, signaling the mark of an excellent offensive player.


Jerry West - 52 Points

4/5/1965 Los Angeles Lakers vs. Baltimore Bullets

For the first time in Tier 5, Jerry West appears with one of the best scoring performances in NBA history. The Logo added 52 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists in a spectacular Game 2 win in the 1965 Division Finals. An elite shot-maker, there was simply no answer for West when his shots were falling against the Baltimore Bullets.

Baltimore found their offense through Don Ohl, who added 30 points and 5 rebounds while Gus Johnson chipped in 27 points and 11 rebounds. But West was the man, as his 20-21 free-throw shooting ultimately proved the difference as the Lakers would win a hard-fought game, 118-115.


Allen Iverson - 52 Points

5/16/2001 Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors

Allen Iverson is a 4-time scoring champion and arguably the most offensively talented little man to ever play professional basketball. The Answer scored 52 points on 65.6% shooting, going 21-32 from the field, including 8-14 from the 3-point line. The long-range shot was the difference, and the Raptors had no shot in the game.

The Philadelphia 76ers absolutely smashed the Raptors 121-88, with Iverson’s scoring coming from every angle throughout the game. The Answer simply dominated the Game 5 matchup, as the MVP of the league outplayed superstar Vince Carter (16 points) on both ends of the floor to carry Philly. A hint: Iverson will appear on this list once again.


Tier 5: 53+ Points Scored


Wilt Chamberlain - 53 Points

3/14/1960 Philadelphia Warriors vs. Syracuse Nationals

Wilt Chamberlain's name is on every all-time scoring list, and he appears once again thanks to his monster 53-point performance against the Syracuse Nationals in the 1960 postseason. In Game 3 of the Division Semifinals, Chamberlain went for 53 points and 22 rebounds on a spectacular 57.1% shooting from the field.

Even if Wilt only managed to go 5-16 from the free-throw line, he is still one of the top-25 scorers in postseason history as the Philadelphia Warriors handily beat the Nationals, 132-112. Chamberlain outscored every player in the game, as the best player in the game for Syracuse was Dolph Schayes, who had 31 points.


Jerry West - 53 Points

4/23/1969 Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics

The NBA’s logo and arguably a top-4 shooting guard of all time, Jerry West, went on a tear in the 1969 Finals. West scored 53 points on 51.2% shooting from the field and 84.6% from the stripe for the Lakers, as his side took Game 1 against the Boston Celtics side led by John Havlicek and Bill Russell.

West’s ability to create his own offense and also nail shots from the perimeter at a high level has to be his greatest gift, even if he was an excellent playmaker as well. The Logo also added 10 assists and only missed 2 free throws out of 13 attempted. An all-time great, West unsurprisingly appears on this Tier once more.


Isaiah Thomas - 53 Points

5/2/2017 Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

This is not Detroit Pistons Isiah Thomas, but the miniature guard who had one of the all-time great performances for the Boston Celtics during the 2017 postseason. Isaiah Thomas stood only 5’9”, but was incredibly dominant as an offensive player who could move off the ball and also catch and shoot at a high level.

In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Thomas scored 53 points on 54.5% shooting from the field, 41.7% from three, and 92.3% from the stripe. Shooting 50-40-90 from the field and still coming up with over 50 points despite being grossly undersized has to be one of the most heartwarming moments in Celtics history. Thomas’ performance will always be remembered by hardcore Boston fans.


John Havlicek - 54 Points

4/1/1973 Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks

One of the greatest Boston Celtics stars ever, John Havlicek, was a force on the court when it came to scoring the ball at an elite level. The superstar small forward scored 54 points on 66.7% from the field and 100.0% from the free-throw line against the Atlanta Hawks. A shooter and paint scorer, Havlicek was unstoppable in the game.

Havlicek did this in Game 1 of the 1973 Eastern Conference Semifinals, setting the tone for his side as the Hawks lost thanks to a blowout 134-109 scoreline. Havlicek has to be one of the best offensive players ever, and his performance during the 1973 postseason would be legendary as the Celtics would get past the Hawks in 6 games.


Michael Jordan - 54 Points

5/31/1993 Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks

Michael Jordan’s resume as a postseason scorer is the stuff of legends because he always found a way to embarrass opponents and put up spectacular scoring numbers for the Chicago Bulls. MJ scored 54 points on 18-30 shooting for his side, while also chipping in 6 rebounds. Thanks to Michael’s mix of outside scoring and unstoppable rim drives, the New York Knicks did not have a chance at stopping MJ during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 31, 1993.

In fact, Jordan’s performance would be proven critical because the Bulls would even the series at 2-2 after dropping the first 2 games in a surprising fashion. Jordan set the tone to even the series, and he would be the man for the Bulls as they would close out the Knicks in 6 games to reach the NBA Finals once again. We have yet to see a more dominant scorer than Michael Jordan, and his Game 4 performance in 1993 is just one of many to appear on this list in multiple Tiers.


Allen Iverson - 54 Points

5/09/2001 Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors

Allen Iverson became a valued member of the NBA 75th Anniversary for a reason he is one of the most unstoppable guards in NBA history. The Answer was a master at shredding the defense with his rim drives and shot-creating abilities, and the Toronto Raptors certainly felt his wrath during the 2001 postseason. Interestingly, Iverson also managed a monster 52 points in the same series against the Raptors.

Despite a 28-point performance by Vince Carter, Iverson managed to drop 54 points and lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a convincing Game 2 victory with a scoreline of 97-92, which earned the squad a victory to tie the series 1-1. In fact, this would be a very entertaining series because Iverson’s scoring would be off the charts as the Philadelphia 76ers would eventually get past the Raptors in 7 games before defeating the Bucks in 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Of course, MVP Iverson would be the man to steal Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Shaq and Kobe Lakers.


Tier 4: 55+ Points Scored


Rick Barry - 55 Points

4/18/1967 Golden State Warriors vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Rick Barry unsurprisingly appears on this Tier, because he is one of the most talented scorers of all time at the small forward position. In Game 3 of the 1967 NBA Finals, Rick Barry scored 55 points on 45.8% shooting from the field and only 57.9% from the free-throw line.

Despite Barry failing to make his foul shots, he still led the Warriors to a fantastic Game 3 win over the Philadelphia 76ers led by Wilt Chamberlain (26 points, 26 rebounds). Barry went off from the field, and that would end up being a critical win as the Warriors would steal the win to keep alive and avoid a 3-0 deficit.


Michael Jordan - 55 Points

5/1/1988 Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Once again, Michael Jordan managed 55 points in a playoff game against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 1988 First Round of the playoffs. Jordan’s scoring output led the Bulls to a 106-101 victory.

Michael was unstoppable as he shot 53.3% from the field and 100% of his foul shots as he went 7-7 from the stripe. The elite shooting guard dominated the matchups, as the Chicago Bulls would take a convincing 2-0 lead and eventually win the series.


Michael Jordan - 55 Points

6/16/1993 Chicago Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns

Jordan managed 55 points again in the playoffs, this time coming against the Phoenix Suns in 1993. The Chicago Bulls would earn a convincing 3-1 series lead, with Michael leading the way against Charles Barkley and the Suns.

Jordan, as usual, was efficient as he went 56.8% from the field and 72.2% from the stripe. Jordan normally goes off in victories, and that was the case as Chicago would eventually close out the Suns to win the championship in 6 games.


Michael Jordan - 55 Points

4/27/1997 Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Bullets

Michael Jordan is one of the greatest scorers ever, and he managed 55 points against the Washington Bullets in the 1997 First Round. The legendary shooting guard shot an impressive 62.9% from the field and 10-10 from the stripe.

We will never see a scorer as dominant as MJ was in his prime, and the Bullets had no shot in the game. Of course, the Chicago Bulls would end up winning the title in 1997 with Jordan earning Finals MVP honors at the end of the year.


Allen Iverson - 55 Points

4/20/2003 Philadelphia 76ers vs. New Orleans Hornets

Allen Iverson was unstoppable in his prime, and during the 2003 postseason, The Answer went off for 55 points on 21-32 shooting. Iverson loved taking a lot of shots, which meant 32 shots attempted is not unusual for the dominant guard.

Philadelphia would end up winning the game 98-90 in Game 1 of the First Round of the playoffs, and Iverson would slice and dice the way to the basket with ease. Even if the 76ers would not go far into the playoffs, this was a masterpiece from Iverson.


Damian Lillard - 55 Points

6/1/2021 Portland Trail Blazers @ Denver Nuggets

Damian Lillard is one of the best offensive point guards ever, and he proved that during Game 5 of the First Round against the Denver Nuggets in 2021. Dame registered 55 points on 70.8% from the field, 70.6% from three, and 90.0% from the line.

Lillard shot a ridiculous 12-17 from the 3-point line, but it was still not enough to overcome the Denver Nuggets side that was led by Nikola Jokic (38 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists). The point guard got whatever he wanted, but a 147-140 loss would have to be endured as well.


Tier 3: 56+ Points Scored


Wilt Chamberlain - 56 Points

3/22/1962 Philadelphia Warriors vs. Syracuse Nationals

The most unstoppable scorer at the center position, Wilt Chamberlain dropped 56 points on 45.8% shooting from the field in a Game 5 Semifinal showdown against the Syracuse Nationals. The Big Dipper was unstoppable, scoring at the rim anytime he wanted.

Of course, anytime Chamberlain goes off from the field, his team normally won. That was the case in Game 5, as Chamberlain’s performance earned his side a monster 121-104 victory and an impressive 3-2 series lead. After winning the series, Wilt would lose to the eventual championship winners, the Boston Celtics.


Michael Jordan - 56 Points

4/29/1992 Chicago Bulls @ Miami Heat

Michael Jordan appears on the list yet again, this time sitting firmly in Tier 3. The GOAT was spectacular during the 1992 season, capturing the scoring title and also winning his 2nd straight NBA title. But it took some monster performances before Jordan reached the Finals, as he scored 56 points on 66.7% shooting from the field.

Against the Miami Heat, MJ knew he had to assert his will to make the difference, and he certainly did when it came to the scoresheet and on the court. The Bulls ended up winning the Game 3 matchup in the first round, capturing a 119-114 victory despite Glen Rice’s 25-point performance.


Charles Barkley - 56 Points

5/4/1994 Phoenix Suns @ Golden State Warriors

One of the most dominant power forwards of all time, Charles Barkley scored 56 points on 74.2% shooting to defeat the Golden State Warriors, 140-133 in a hotly contested game in the First Round. Barkley had his way on the floor, going 23-31 from the field and hardly missing a step.

Anytime a player scored 50+ on 70+% shooting, his team will normally win the game because the field goal percentage as a whole will be sky high. Charles was responsible for that, and he also chipped in 14 rebounds to complete one of the greatest playoff performances of all time.


Donovan Mitchell - 57 Points

8/17/2020 Utah Jazz @ Denver Nuggets

No doubt about it, Donovan Mitchell has proven he can take over when he is feeling it, especially in the postseason. Donovan already appears on this list, but he is ranked 3rd all-time in most points scored in a playoff game. During Game 1 of the 2020 First Round, Mitchell dropped a monster 57 points on 57.6% shooting from the field, 40.0% from three, and 100.0% from the line.

Even with Mitchell’s offensive explosion, the Utah Jazz were beaten comfortably by the Denver Nuggets as they had a star of their own in Jamal Murray (36 points, 9 assists). As some of these performances show, one player having a monster game does not mean as much in the playoffs as it does during the regular season, and that would be proven in the upcoming tiers as well.


Tier 2: 60+ Points Scored


Elgin Baylor - 61 Points

4/14/1962 Los Angeles Lakers @ Boston Celtics

One of the most underrated superstars and one of the best players to never win a championship, Elgin Baylor was an unstoppable scorer over his career. Standing 6’5” and weighing 225 lbs, Baylor was a powerhouse at the small forward position and he ranks 3rd all time in career PPG behind Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. He also ranks 2nd all-time in most points scored in a playoff game during Game 5 of the 1962 Finals.

Baylor went 22-46 from the field, good for 47.8% shooting, and scored a monster 61 points including 17 made free-throws in 19 attempts. The superstar small forward did just enough to overcome 26 points and 29 rebounds from Bill Russell, as the Lakers took a 3-2 lead although they would lose the series.


Tier 1: 63+ Points Scored


Michael Jordan - 63 Points

4/20/1986 Chicago Bulls @ Boston Celtics

As usual, Michael Jordan is in a league of his own when it comes to scoring the basketball. The man holds the highest PPG average in NBA history at 30.1 PPG, and is also the only player with 10 scoring titles. But Jordan was not only a regular-season beast, because he scored the most points in NBA history in the playoffs when he dropped 63 points against the Boston Celtics.

This was the game where Larry Bird pronounced MJ as “God disguised as Michael Jordan” because there was simply no stopping him at any point during the game. In Game 2 of the 1986 First Round, Michael shot 53.7% from the field, although he was not able to get past Bird and the Celtics as the Bulls faced a 2-0 deficit. Still, Jordan is the greatest scorer of all time and his 63-point performance against the Celtics is a testament to that.

Credit for the idea: sogbasketball/Instagram

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