The 100 Greatest Individual Performances in NBA Playoff History

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 15, 2012

The 100 Greatest Individual Performances in NBA Playoff History

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    If you're looking for a journey back through the annals of NBA Playoff history, you've found one. These rankings detail the 100 greatest individual performances in the history of the NBA postseason. 

    You'll find tons of legendary names and legendary performances in the next 100 slides. Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and many more will open the file cabinets hidden away in the back of your brain, or maybe even make some new entries in those cabinets. 

    The games were ranked based on a subjective combination of statistical prowess, historical significance, opponent and part of the playoffs. Obviously, the NBA Finals performances are a little more impressive than those that occurred in the first round. 

    Enjoy, and be sure to leave any comments or disagreements in the comment section, but do so in a civil manner please. 

100. Jerry West, Game 2 Against Boston Celtics, 1965

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    Series: 0-1 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 129-123 loss

     

    This is one of the rare times that you'll see a game that resulted in an NBA Finals loss sneak on to the list. Jerry West was just that good against the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the 1965 NBA Finals. 

    Despite the heavy defensive pressure he faced, the slick-haired sharpshooter still managed to put up 45 points in the loss. 

99. Kenny Smith, Game 1 Against Orlando Magic, 1995

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    Series: 0-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 120-118 victory


    This game has gone down in history as the time that Nick Anderson went 0-of-4 from the charity stripe in the final 10.5 seconds of the game, but it should also be remembered for the greatness of Kenny Smith. 

    The current TNT analyst was the man who nailed the game-tying triple after Anderson's second set of misses and sent the game to overtime, where the Houston Rockets would eventually win the game. 

    Smith finished with 23 points and nine assists, including seven three-pointers to set the NBA Finals record. 

98. Kobe Bryant, Game 6 Against Phoenix Suns, 2010

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    Series: 3-2 in Western Conference Finals

    Result: 111-103 victory

     

    Playing with a bad finger and a knee injury that would require surgery during the offseason, Kobe Bryant followed up an inefficient 30-point performance in the Game 5 loss with a terrific showing in Game 6. 

    While limiting the shooting guards of the Phoenix Suns, Kobe exploded for 37 points of his own. 

97. Michael Jordan, Game 4 Against Cleveland Cavaliers, 1989

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    Series: 2-1 in the Eastern Conference

    Result: 108-105 loss

     

    This wasn't the first time that Michael Jordan dropped 50 points in the playoffs, and it most certainly wouldn't be the last occasion. 

    But this game earned Air Jordan his lowest spot in these top 100 games simply because his scoring contribution wasn't quite enough to put the Chicago Bulls into the victory column. A balanced offense, led by Larry Nance and Mark Price, pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers over the top. 

96. Bob McAdoo, Game 4 Against Washington Bullets, 1975

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    Series: 1-2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 108-102 victory

     

    On a night where only one other player could break the not-so-elsuive 20-point barrier, Bob McAdoo exploded for 50 points. 

    He carried the Buffalo Braves to a win in Game 4, tying up the Eastern Conference Semifinals at two games apiece. 

95. Karl Malone, Game 1 Against Seattle SuperSonics, 2000

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    Series: 0-0 in the Western Conference First Round

    Result: 104-93 victory

     

    Karl Malone helped the Utah Jazz get off to a terrific start during the 2000 NBA playoffs, even if his team would bow out in the Western Conference Semifinals. 

    Against Gary Payton and the Seattle SuperSonics, Malone made just over half of his attempts from the field, finishing with 50 points and 12 rebounds in the series opener. 


94. Michael Jordan, Game 1 Against Cleveland Cavaliers, 1988

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    Series: 0-0 in the Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 104-93 victory

     

    Ho hum; just another 50-point game for Michael Jordan. 

    Trust me; you're going to get used to seeing these. 

93. Dominique Wilkins, Game 2 Against Detroit Pistons, 1986

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    Series: 1-0 in the Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 137-125 victory

     

    They called Dominique Wilkins the Human Highlight Film for a reason. 

    During this second game of the playoffs for the Atlanta Hawks in 1986, 'Nique took advantage of a defenseless game and exploded for 50 points.

    The high-flying forward was also incredibly efficient while doing so, shooting a scorching 67.8 percent from the field on his 28 attempts. 

     


92. Jerry West, Game 2 Against Baltimore Bullets, 1965

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    Series: 1-0 in the Western Division Finals

    Result: 118-115 victory

     

    Going 20-of-21 from the line and drilling 16 field-goal attempts, Jerry West dominated from start to finish in this epic 52-point performance. 

    If there was a three-point line in 1965, he surely would have had even more. 

    He ended up averaging 46 points per game in this series. 

91. Jason Terry, Game 4 Against Los Angeles Lakers, 2011

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    Series: 3-0 in the Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 122-86

     

    I'm sure that Jason Terry's three-pointers were at least partly responsible for Andrew Bynum's frustration at the end of the Los Angeles Lakers' embarrassing performance in the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals. 

    This game almost single-handedly justified his tattooing of the Larry O'Brien Trophy on his bicep. 

    Terry came off the bench to score 32 points and made a ridiculous nine of his 10 three-point attempts. 

90. Dennis Johnson, Game 4 Against Washington Bullets, 1979

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    Series: 2-1 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 114-112 victory

     

    Dennis Johnson had a great offensive game in this contest, helping to extend the Seattle SuperSonics' lead in the series to 3-1. However, it was the defense that truly stood out here. 

    Overshadowing the guard's 32 points in Game 4 of the 1979 NBA Finals were his four blocks. Of the four, the most crucial of all was his rejection of Kevin Grevey's final attempt of the game to preserve a two-point overtime win. 

89. Karl Malone, Game 5 Against Chicago Bulls, 1998

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    Series: 3-1 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 83-81 victory

     

    In this incredibly low-scoring victory that extended the 1998 NBA Finals to six games, Karl Malone took over. 

    The Mailman delivered with 39 points (on 17-of-27 shooting), nine rebounds and five assists, but the Utah Jazz wouldn't prevail until Michael Jordan air-balled on the attempted game-winner in front of the highly partisan Chicago crowd. 


88. Michael Jordan, Game 2 Against Cleveland Cavaliers, 1988

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    Series: 1-0 in the Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 106-101 victory

     

    One game after dropping 50 points to open the playoffs, Michael Jordan put up another vintage performance. 

    This time, he scored 55 points while adding six rebounds, three assists, four steals and a block. He also turned the ball over just once. 


87. John Havlicek, Game 1 Against Atlanta Hawks, 1973

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    Series: 0-0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 134-109 victory

     

    In this game, John Havlicek tied the record for the most field goals made in a single playoff game when he dropped 24 shots and added six free throws to give him 54 points in this opener of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. 

    Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan have also made just as many shots in a playoff game, but Hondo did it in the situation with the least possible leverage. 

86. Dwyane Wade, Game 6 Against Dallas Mavericks, 2006

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    Series: 3-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 95-92

     

    Dwyane Wade came fairly near to a five-by-five in this final game of the 2006 NBA Finals in which he led the Miami Heat to a terrific comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the series by winning four games in a row. 

    He scored 36 points, pulled down 10 rebounds, dished out five assists and contributed four steals and three blocks on defense.

    Amazingly enough, this performance pales in comparison to two other games from this series, as you'll see soon enough.  


85. Bill Russell, Game 3 Against Philadelphia Warriors, 1958

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    Series: 2-0 in the Eastern Division Finals

    Result: 106-92 victory

     

    Bill Russell only scored 14 points in this game, but he hauled in 40 rebounds, setting the record for most rebounds in a playoff game in the process. 

    His record would stand for nine years until Wilt Chamberlain broke it by one. 


84. Ray Allen, Game 6 Against Chicago Bulls, 2009

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    Series: 3-2 in the Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 128-127 loss

     

    Although the Boston Celtics would lose this triple-overtime contest and allow the first-round series to be extended to seven games (they would eventually advance), Ray Allen was absolutely sensational.

    The sharpshooter finished just three points shy of John Havlicek's franchise record in the playoffs, scoring 51 on nine three-pointers and a bunch of two-point shots. It was the first time anybody had broken the 50-point barrier for the C's since Hondo did it back in 1973.

    Nobody before or after has made more than nine shots from downtown in a single playoff game.  


83. Baron Davis, Game 6 Against Dallas Mavericks, 2007

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    Series: 3-2 in the Western Conference First Round

    Result: 111-86 victory

     

    The Golden State Warriors became the first No. 8 seed to ever beat a No. 1 seed in a seven-game series as Don Nelson beat his former team. Additionally, they won their first playoff series in 16 seasons. 

    Baron Davis was the star of the show against the Dallas Mavericks, playing on a pulled hamstring and still scoring 20 points in this remarkable victory. 

    He also added 10 rebounds and six assists before he sat down on the bench to "MVP" cheers with 2:19 remaining in the game. As Matt Barnes said, "Baron toughed it out. He's our leader and nothing's going to stop him right now. We've got a lot of talent and a lot of heart and we're looking to do a lot more damage."


82. Kobe Bryant, Game 7 Against Portland Trail Blazers, 2000

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    Series: 3-3 in the Western Conference Finals

    Result: 89-84 victory

     

    Prior to this conclusion of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, the biggest fourth-quarter comeback ever in a Game 7 was just six points. But thanks to a 15-0 run, the Los Angeles Lakers erased a 15-point deficit and went on to win the game by five points, leaving the Portland Trail Blazers stunned. 

    The highlight of the game was the lob thrown from Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O'Neal with just 40 seconds remaining in the final period, but the Black Mamba was striking all night. 

    Although Rasheed Wallace had a game-high 30 points, Kobe nearly had a triple-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. He also added four blocks to his line. 

     

     


81. Michael Jordan, Game 2 Against Washington Bullets, 1997

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    Series: 1-0 in the Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 109-104 victory

     

    Even though the Washington Bullets kept this game close, they may as well have stayed home. When Michael Jordan absolutely catches fire, as he did in this Game 2 of the first round of the 1997 NBA Playoffs, there's just nothing you can do. 

    Jordan's 55 points aren't ridiculously special by themselves, but they are when you couple them with the efficiency he played with. 

    The shooting guard turned the ball over just twice and was a scorching 22-of-35 from the field. 

80. Michael Jordan, Game 3 Against Miami Heat, 1992

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    Series: 2-0 in the Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 119-114 victory

     

    When Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen both decided to dominate, there wasn't much that the Miami Heat could do to prevent a sweep. 

    Pippen had 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists in this decisive Game 3, but his performance paled in comparison to Jordan's. 

    M.J. shot 66.7 percent from the field on his 30 attempts and finished with 56 points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks in the game. 


79. Rajon Rondo, Game 6 Against Cleveland Cavaliers, 2010

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    Series: 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 94-85 victory


    Rajon Rondo has seemed like a triple-double machine lately, and the same was true during the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals. 

    In this game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James' final one in a Cavs jersey, Rondo put up yet another triple-double with 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists. 

    Doc Rivers summed it up best when he simply said, "He was absolutely sensational tonight."

78. Oscar Robertson, Game 5 Against Syracuse Nationals, 1963

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    Series: 2-2 in the Eastern Division Semifinals

    Result: 131-127 victory

     

    It all came down to the final game of the Eastern Division Semifinals for the Cincinnati Royals and Syracuse Nationals. 

    The man famous for the triple-double put up one of his famous games, even if it wasn't widely recognized for its uniqueness at the time. Oscar Robertson, playing with the ease that always accompanied his games, scored 32 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and handed out 13 assists.

    Thanks to his efforts, the Royals advanced to the next round, where they would lose to the Boston Celtics in seven games.  

     


77. Allen Iverson, Game 1 Against New Orleans Hornets, 2003

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    Series: 0-0 in the Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 98-90 victory

     

    Allen Iverson was determined to get the playoffs off to a great start in 2003, and did exactly that. 

    The cornrowed superstar scored 55 points while adding four rebounds, eight assists and two steals. But going into the fourth quarter, the Philadelphia 76ers still only had a two-point edge over the New Orleans Hornets. 

    As you might expect, that was when A.I. took over, scoring the first basket of the quarter just 16 seconds in thanks to an assist from Eric Snow. He finished the game by scoring 20 of his team's 28 points in the fourth. 


76. LeBron James, Game 5 Against Orlando Magic, 2009

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    Series: 1-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 112-102 victory

     

    Although the Cleveland Cavaliers would eventually fall in Game 6 to the Orlando Magic, this was one hell of a game for LeBron James. 

    The unquestioned superstar for the Cavs both produced a great box score line and came up big when it counted most. 

    James finished the game with 37 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists, a steal and a block for a playoff triple-double and the victory. During the fourth quarter, which the Cavs entered with a one-point deficit and finished with a 10-point victory, James had 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. 

75. Allen Iverson, Game 2 Against Toronto Raptors, 2001

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    Series: 0-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 97-92 victory

     

    Already down a game to the Toronto Raptors, all but one of the Philadelphia 76ers struggled offensively in Game 1. Eric Snow was the only Net to score in double-figures without the last name Iverson, and Snow was only 3-of-9 from the field for 10 points. 

    Fortunately for Philly, Allen Iverson was feeling it. He stroked 21 of his 39 attempts from the field (including three makes from downtown) and added conversions on all nine of his free-throw attempts to rack up 54 points in the contest. 

74. Wilt Chamberlain, Game 3 Against Syracuse Nationals, 1960

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    Series: 1-1 in the Eastern Division Semifinals

    Result: 132-112 victory

     

    Only three players have ever scored 24 field goals in a single postseason game: Wilt Chamberlain, John Havlicek and Michael Jordan. 

    Amazingly enough, Chamberlain did it as a rookie. 


73. Larry Bird, Game 5 Against Indiana Pacers, 1991

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    Series: 2-2 in the Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 124-121 victory

     

    In the final game of the series, Larry Bird paced the Boston Celtics as they stormed out to a 10-point lead at the end of the opening period, but the Indiana Pacers fought back and tied the game at 58 when the rest of the team joined Bird in the locker room at half time. 

    Bird had dove to floor in pursuit of a loose ball and stayed down after the whistle. When he got up, he headed straight for the locker room. 

    When the teams emerged for the third quarter, Bird did not join the rest of the Celtics, which no doubt drew some gasps from the Boston Garden crowd. But Larry Legend jogged out through the tunnel in the third quarter with the Celtics up 82-79. 

    After struggling through the first four games of the series and now playing injured, Bird took over and finished 12-of-19 from the field from 32 points in the three-point win over Indiana to advance to the next round. 


72. Allen Iverson, Game 5 Against Toronto Raptors, 2001

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    Series: 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 121-88 victory

     

    Allen Iverson had already scored 54 points during Game 2 of this series, but the Toronto Raptors and Vince Carter's 50-spot of his own had stolen away Game 3 to take the lead in the series once more. 

    After the Philadelphia 76ers tied the series back up in Game 4, A.I. exploded for another 52 points in Game 5 to take Philadelphia's first lead in the entertaining back-and-forth series. 

    This time, Iverson made 21 of his 32 shots (including makes on eight shots from downtown) while adding seven assists and four steals on the defensive end. 

    The Answer had 12 points in the first quarter as the Sixers opened up a 21-point lead, ensuring that the game would never be close. 

71. Kobe Bryant, Game 4 Against Phoenix Suns, 2006

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    Series: 2-1 in the Western Conference First Round

    Result: 99-98 victory


    The Los Angeles Lakers wouldn't win this series, falling in Game 7 to the Phoenix Suns, but no Lakers fan will ever forget Game 4. 

    Kobe Bryant finished with 24 points, four rebounds, eight assists and seven turnovers, but it was all about two shots. 

    With just eight seconds left in the game, the Suns had a two-point lead and the ball. On the inbounds play, Smush Parker deflected the pass, and Kobe hit a layup to force overtime. 

    Just a few minutes later, Kobe received the ball off a jump ball tip-off and drilled a pull-up jumper from the right elbow. The basket gave the Lakers a one-point and a victory in Game 4. 

70. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Game 5 Against the Boston Celtics, 1985

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    Series: 2-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 120-111 victory


    Even though he'd struggled early on in the NBA Finals, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rebounded and became the all-time leading scorer in the playoffs during Game 3 before taking over at the end of the series. 

    At this point during the big man's career, the Los Angeles Lakers were Magic Johnson's team, but the 38-year-old center still had enough game to earn the Finals MVP award. During Game 5, he scored a game-high 36 points while helping to stave off a furious Celtics rally. 


69. Michael Jordan, Game 2 Against Phoenix Suns, 1993

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    Series: 1-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 111-108

     

    Aiming for his third straight Finals MVP, Michael Jordan hit pull-up fadeaway after pull-up fadeaway in this game against the Phoenix Suns. 

    Nearly every one of his 42 points was completely necessary in this close contest, and the shooting guard almost put up a triple-double, falling just one assist shy of the requirements. It was Scottie Pippen who recorded the game-saving block of Danny Ainge at the last second, but it was Jordan who was the hero. 

68. Elgin Baylor, Game 3 Against Boston Celtics, 1963

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    Series: 0-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 119-99 victory

     

    Although the 1963 NBA Finals were close throughout the series, the Boston Celtics would win yet another title in six games. The lone exception to the overall closeness was the Los Angeles Lakers' 20-point win in Game 3, largely thanks to Elgin Baylor. 

    The swingman somehow managed to outscore the Celtics' entire front court while racking up more assists than Bob Cousy and more rebounds than Bill Russell. 

67. Wilt Chamberlain, Game 3 Against Boston Celtics, 1967

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    Series: 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 115-104


    This was the year that Wilt Chamberlain finally got the best of the Boston Celtics, as the Philadelphia 76ers would knock out the Boston Celtics in just five games.

    The highlight of the series, for Chamberlain at least, was Game 3. Amazingly enough, this was despite only scoring 20 points.

    Chamberlain did manage to hold Bill Russell to 10 points while grabbing an NBA-record 41 rebounds in the game, breaking Russell's record in the process.

66. Dominique Wilkins, Game 7 Against Boston Celtics, 1988

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    Series: 3-3 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 118-116 loss

     

    Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird engaged in a battle of epic proportions on Sunday, May 22nd of 1988. 

    The two superstars traded shot after shot, but Bird's 20-point fourth-quarter was enough to outdo a 47-point outburst from 'Nique, sending the Boston Celtics onto the next round of the playoffs. 

    As good as Wilkins was, and he was certainly better than Bird over the course of the game, he can't possibly rank higher than Larry Legend because he couldn't win the game. 

65. Michael Jordan, Game 2 Against Los Angeles Lakers, 1991

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    Series: 0-1 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 107-86 victory

     

    The Chicago Bulls had never won an NBA Championship and weren't off to the best start after falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in a close game to start the series. 

    Michael Jordan came out of the gates struggling in Game 2, scoring only two points in the first 20 minutes of the game. However, he'd soon pick it up and knock down each and every one of his next 13 shots from the field. 

    The best player of all-time continued to lead his team, but nothing could possibly stand out more than the famed layup in which he switched hands in mid-air and finished with his left. That was the cherry on top of an already wonderful performance. 

    Jordan finished with 33 points, seven rebounds, 13 assists, two steals and a block. 


64. Allen Iverson, Game 1 Against Los Angeles Lakers, 2001

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    Series: 0-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 107-101 victory

     

    The Los Angeles Lakers had won the last eight games of the regular season and had yet to lose during any of their 11 games as they swept through the Western Conference en route to the Finals. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers had required back-to-back seven-game series to advance this far. 

    But thanks to the heroics of Allen Iverson, the Sixers shocked the world with an overtime victory in Game 1.

    Iverson scored 48 points while adding five rebounds, six assists and five steals to his line. In the decisive overtime period, The Answer put up seven points, matching all the offense that Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers were able to muster. 

63. Larry Bird, Game 7 Against Atlanta Hawks, 1988

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    Series: 3-3 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 118-116 victory

     

    One of the more famous games in NBA history, this was the battle between Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins. 

    Going into the fourth quarter of action, Bird had struggled to just 14 points and was clearly being outplayed by Wilkins. However, he took over in the fourth quarter, finishing with 34 points and the game-winning basket as he traded blows with the Atlanta Hawks superstar. 

    As Kevin McHale said, "It was like two gunfighters waiting to blink. There was one stretch that was as pure a form of basketball as you're ever going to see."

    The Human Highlight Film may have outscored him by 13 points, but The Hick From French Lick came out on top. 

62. Charles Barkley, Game 3 Against Golden State Warriors, 1994

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    Series: 2-0 in the Western Conference First Round

    Result: 140-133 victory

     

    Fresh off a posterization at the hands of rookie Chris Webber, Charles Barkley wanted revenge and came out fast and furious.

    He hit all 11 of his field-goal attempts in the first quarter, scoring 27 points. When the final buzzer sounded, Barkley had scored 56 points on 23-of-31 shooting. At the time, only Michael Jordan and Elgin Baylor had ever scored more in a playoff game.

    For whatever reason, Don Nelson had decided not to double-team the Round Mound of Rebound, a strategy that Chuck liked quite a bit: "They kind of forced the issue by not doubling me. I hope it's not the last time I see single coverage. I kind of like it." 



61. Michael Jordan, Game 4 Against New York Knicks, 1993

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    Series: 1-2 in the Eastern conference Finals

    Result: 105-95

     

    Playing at home after making just three of his 18 attempts in Game 3 and refusing to talk to the media afterwards, Michael Jordan decided it was time to take over. 

    Against the tenacious defense of John Starks, Jordan couldn't miss. He drilled 18 of his 30 shots, including six three-pointers, to finish with 54 points and provide more than his fair share in this hard-fought victory to even the series. 


60. Kobe Bryant, Game 4 Against Indiana Pacers, 2000

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    Series: 2-1 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 120-118 victory

     

    Coming off a missed game due to an ankle injury, this was Kobe Bryant's turn to shine and show the world that this wasn't just Shaquille O'Neal's team. 

    The game went to overtime before Shaq fouled out with 2:33 remaining and a three-point lead. However, Kobe took over and scored three of the last four baskets for the Lakers as they closed out the game to extend their lead in the NBA Finals.

    Bryant scored eight points in overtime, most notably a crazy-difficut put-back with the wrong hand. He finished the game with "only" 28 points, but he scored a good bit of them when the pressure was greatest. Bryant proved to the world he and the Lakers were ready to become champions.

59. Magic Johnson, Game 2 Against Phoenix Suns, 1984

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    Series: 1-0 in the Western Conference Finals

    Result: 118-112 victory

     

    Only seven players in NBA history have recorded 20 or more assists during an NBA playoff game, and only Magic Johnson and John Stockton have done so multiple times. 

    Stockton had four games with 20 or more dimes, but Magic had a ridiculous 10 such performances, highlighted by this 24-assist game, which is tied with Stockton for the most in a playoff game. 

    Magic had 13 assists in the first half and finished with 24, in addition to his six points, seven rebounds, five steals and two blocks. 



58. Wilt Chamberlain, Game 5 Against St. Louis Hawks, 1964

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    Series: 2-2 in the Western Division Finals

    Result: 121-97 victory

     

    Wilt Chamberlain had broken the 50-point barrier in the playoffs quite a few times before this lead-taking game in the Western Division Finals, and he did so once more against Bob Pettit and the St. Louis Hawks. 

    Additionally, he held Pettit, the best player on the Hawks, to just 19 points, half of which came from the free-throw line. 


57. Larry Bird, Game 5 Against the Los Angeles Lakers, 1984

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    Series: 2-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 121-103 victory

     

    Larry Bird scored a game-high 34 points to spark a Game 5 victory for the Boston Celtics as they advanced further in their eventually successful quest to bring home the hardware yet again. Even more impressively, the forward did so on 15-of-20 shooting from the field. 

    This game became known as the "Heat Game" because the temperature was 97 degrees and the air conditioning wasn't working inside the Boston Garden, but nothing was hotter than Bird's shooting touch. 

56. Hakeem Olajuwon, Game 1 Against Orlando Magic, 1995

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    Series: 0-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 120-118 victory

     

    In the Houston Rockets' sweep of the Orlando Magic to win their second straight title, Hakeem Olajuwon averaged a jaw-dropping 32.8 points, 11.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. The first game of the series stood out as The Dream's best performance.

    When Olajuwon tipped in the game-winning shot with 0.3 seconds left in overtime, he upped his totals to 31 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals and four blocks. 

55. Reggie Miller, Game 1 Against New York Knicks, 1995

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    Series: 0-0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 107-105 victory


    The Indiana Pacers appeared ready to concede the first game of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals, as they were down six points in the final seconds of the game, but Reggie Miller wasn't. 

    To increase his point total from 23 to 31 in a short matter of time, Miller exploded for eight points in 8.9 seconds to erase the lead and emerge victorious from a suddenly silent Madison Square Garden. 

54. Michael Jordan, Game 1 Against Portland Trail Blazers, 1992

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    Series: 0-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 122-89 win

     

    Michael Jordan was fairly successful at starting off his latest NBA Finals appearance with a bang. 

    With six three-pointers in the first half of the game, Jordan dropped a jaw-dropping (tongue-showing?) 35 points before the teams retreated to the locker room for the first time, setting a Finals record in the process for most points in a half. 

    Once he'd knocked down his sixth three-pointer, right over Clifford Robinson this time, Jordan simply shrugged his shoulders, as even he was simply astounded by his own greatness. 

    Jordan would finish with "only" 39 points and 11 assists, but in a 33-point blowout, it's not like another scoring outburst was necessary. 

53. Bill Russell, Game 2 Against Los Angeles Lakers, 1965

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    Series: 1-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 129-123 victory

     

    Despite 45 points from Jerry West, Bill Russell played well enough to record a triple-double and give the Boston Celtics a 2-0 lead in the 1965 NBA Finals. 

    Eventually earning another ring in five games, Bill Russell recorded a triple-double and dominated in all areas of this game. 

    The best word to describe this game, and this series would simply be "anticlimactic." 

52. Andrew Toney, Game 7 Against Boston Celtics, 1982

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    Series: 3-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 120-106 victory

     

    In this game, Andrew Toney truly earned the nickname "The Boston Strangler." 

    Toney had played well throughout this hard-fought series between the Philadelphia 76ers ad Boston Celtics, but capped it off with a terrific 34-point performance in Game 7. 

51. Bill Russell, Game 7 Against the St. Louis Hawks, 1960

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    Series: 3-3 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 140-122 victory

     

    Bill Russell never lost a single Game 7 at any point during his storied NBA career, and that included five such occurrences in the NBA Finals. 

    This was one of those occasions, and Russell certainly didn't string from the big moment. He scored 22 points and grabbed 35 rebounds en route to yet another title. 

50. Akeem Olajuwon, Game 5 Against Boston Celtics, 1986

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    Series: 1-3 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 111-96 victory


    Before he changed his name to "Hakeem," Akeem Olajuwon took over during his second season at the professional level. 

    Even if the Houston Rockets couldn't pull out a series victory against Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, Olajuwon had a great preview of what was to come in Game 5. 

    Using his dizzying array of post moves, The Dream scored 32 points. He also added 14 rebounds, three assists, two steals and, of course, no fewer than eight blocks. 

49. Vince Carter, Game 3 Against Philadelphia 76ers, 2001

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    Series: 1-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 102-78 victory

     

    When Vince Carter got going during the early 2000s, there wasn't much you could do to beat his Toronto Raptors. Such was the case as the Raptors took a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals behind a 50-point outburst from Air Canada. 

    Hitting a ridiculous 19 of his 29 shots from the field and all three of his free-throw attempts, Carter just couldn't miss. He was even 9-of-13 from downtown, tying the NBA record for three-pointers in a playoff game. 

    Most impressively, Carter still found time to do everything else. He pulled down six rebounds, found seven open teammates for assists, stole the ball once and blocked four shots. Despite how often the ball was in his hands, he still only turned it over once. 

    Vince Carter may be called Half Man, Half Amazing, but in this game, he was all amazing. 

     


48. Jerry West, Game 1 Against Boston Celtics, 1969

53 of 100

    Series: 0-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 120-118 victory

     

    Jerry West was supposedly exhausted prior to the start of this game, but he reveled in the fact that Red Auerbach decided not to double-team him and scored all game long. 

    In a game that had 21 lead changes and was decided by a Wilt Chamberlain jumper with 23 seconds remaining, West put up a staggering 53 points, once more without a three-point line to earn extra points with. 


47. Wilt Chamberlain, Game 5 Against Syracuse Nationals, 1962

54 of 100

    Series: 2-2 in the Eastern Division Semifinals

    Result: 121-104 victory

     

    This game places Wilt Chamberlain in a tie for the third-most points in NBA playoff history, alongside Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. 

    In the final game of this series, Wilt made 22 of his 48 field-goal attempts and 12 of his 22 attempts from the charity stripe (although it clearly wasn't very charitable to him). In addition to those 56 points, he also pulled down an incredible 35 rebounds in the 17-point win. 


46. Larry Bird, Game 6 Against Houston Rockets, 1986

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    Series: 3-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 114-97 victory

     

    One game after the infamous brawl between the 7'4" Ralph Sampson and the 6'1" Jerry Sichting, Larry Bird took over with a triple-double to clinch the 16th title in Boston Celtics history.

    This game was never close as the Celtics had a 30-point lead at one point during the fourth quarter. But when it was all said and done, Bird finished the game with a dominant triple-double: 29 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists, leading the team in all three categories.

45. Wilt Chamberlain, Game 5 Against Boston Celtics, 1960

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    Series: 1-3 in the Eastern Division Finals

    Result: 128-107 victory

     

    If you're wondering why he was called Wilt the Stilt, just look at this picture. 

    Red Auerbach had employed the Hack-a-Wilt strategy during the first few games of the series, and Chamberlain eventually tired of the double-teams and physical plays. He lost his cool during Game 3 and decked Tom Heinsohn, injuring his hand in the process. 

    Fully healed in Game 5, Wilt went off for 50 points against none other than Bill Russell. That is no easy feat. 

44. Isiah Thomas, Game 5 Against New York Knicks, 1984

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    Series: 2-2 in the Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 127-123 loss

     

    Playing in an air conditioning-less Joe Louis Arena, Isiah Thomas entered into quite the duel with Bernard King. 

    The point guard finished with 35 points and 12 assists, but it was his heroics in the last 96 seconds of regulation that earn him this spot. 

    Thomas took over the game with just 1:33 left on the clock and scored 16 points before the final buzzer sounded, forcing overtime. If they'd been successful in overtime, he would have been much higher up in these rankings. 

43. Reggie Miller, Game 5 Against New York Knicks, 1994

58 of 100

    Series: 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 93-86 victory

     

    In a crucial Game 5 against the hated New York Knicks, Reggie Miller was just alright through the first three periods of the game. 

    The Indiana Pacers entered the fourth quarter trailing 70-58, but emerged victorious, with a seven-point win no less. 

    Thanks to Reggie Miller dropping in long three-pointer after long three-pointer, there was no hope for the Madison Square Garden faithful. Miller single-handedly outscored all of the Knicks, 25-16, in the final quarter and even gave the famous fourth-quarter choke hand gesture to Spike Lee. 

42. Bernard King, Game 5 Against Detroit Pistons, 1984

59 of 100

    Series: 2-2 in the Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 127-123 victory

     

    In a win-or-go-home situation early on, Bernard King and Isiah Thomas entered into a stunning duel, the likes of which haven't been seen since save for when Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird squared off. 

    While playing with the flu and two dislocated middle-fingers, King scored 44 points and hauled in 12 rebounds to help push the New York Knicks into the next round. His best play was a put-back dunk over four Detroit Pistons and two of his own teammates, one that just happened to occur in overtime.

    Making this all the more impressive was the fact that the air conditioning wasn't working in Joe Louis Arena. 

41. Shaquille O'Neal, Game 1 Against Indiana Pacers, 2000

60 of 100

    Series: 0-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 104-87 victory

     

    There's dominance, and then there's what Shaquille O'Neal did to the Indiana Pacers during the 2000 NBA Finals. 

    Shaq's reign started with Game 1 of the series when he made 21 of his 31 shots, scoring 43 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. The only negative part of his performance was his shooting from the charity stripe (surprise, surprise). 


40. Patrick Ewing, Game 7 Against Indiana Pacers, 1994

61 of 100

    Series: 3-3 in Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 94-90 victory

     

    The New York Knicks were in perfect position to claim one of the more ignominious playoff flops in NBA history. They'd blown a 2-0 lead in the series and were trailing 90-89 in the final minute of Game 7, at Madison Square Garden no less. 

    John Starks drove past a few Indiana Pacers, but missed a layup with 26.9 seconds remaining in the series. However, Patrick Ewing jumped up and slammed the put-back dunk through the rim to take a lead that would never be relinquished. 

    Ewing finished the game with 24 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, a steal and five blocks, but no contribution was more timely than his final two points. 


39. Dirk Nowitzki, Game 5 Against Phoenix Suns, 2006

62 of 100

    Series: 2-2 in the Western Conference Finals

    Result: 117-101 victory


    Dirk Nowitzki was putting together a nice showing in the fifth game of the 2006 Western Conference Finals, entering the fourth quarter having already scored 28 points, but he wasn't done. 

    The Phoenix Suns trailed by only two points when the fourth quarter began, but Dirk single-handedly outscored them by two points, dropping 22 in the final 12 minutes of action. 

    Dallas would go on to win the series and advance to the NBA Finals before losing to the Miami Heat. 

38. Gary Payton, Game 4 Against Utah Jazz, 2000

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    Series: 1-2 in the Western Conference First Round

    Result: 104-93 victory

     

    Gary Payton is normally remembered as a defensive stopper, but he dominated on both ends of the court to help the Seattle SuperSonics stay alive for one more game in the 2000 NBA Playoffs. 

    The Glove stole the ball away from John Stockton and the Utah Jazz six times while scoring 35 points, pulling down 10 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists to complete his triple-double. 


37. Dave Cowens, Game 1 Against Phoenix Suns, 1976

64 of 100

    Series: 0-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 98-87 victory

     

    The Boston Celtics would eventually take the series in six games to win yet another NBA title, but they needed to get off to a great start. 

    Thanks to Dave Cowens, that was exactly what happened. The red-headed big man led all players in assists (10) and rebounds (21) during the game while adding 25 points. 

    His triple-double gave the Celtics all the help they needed to lead throughout the game and achieve an early 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals. 

36. Shaquille O'Neal, Game 2 Against New Jersey Nets, 2002

65 of 100

    Series: 1-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 106-83 victory

     

    Shaquille O'Neal was back in the NBA Finals and ready to add another dominant performance to his resume. 

    This time, he was almost automatic from the free-throw line, knocking down 12 of his 14 attempts. Shaq also made 14 of his 23 shots from the field to finish with 40 points in addition to his 12 rebounds and eight assists. 

    It was the fifth time that Shaq hit 40 in the NBA Finals. 

35. Wilt Chamberlain, Game 5 Against the New York Knicks, 1972

66 of 100

    Series: 3-1 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 114-100 victory

     

    We had to get a Los Angeles Lakers game in there for Wilt Chamberlain. 

    In the series-clinching game of the 1972 NBA Finals, Wilt completed an MVP performance with a masterpiece of a Game 5. 

    Playing all but one minute of the final game, Chamberlain had 24 points, 27 rebounds, eight assists and eight blocks (as recorded by announcer Keith Jackson). 


34. Joe Dumars, Game 3 Against the Los Angeles Lakers, 1989

67 of 100

    Series: 2-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 114-110 victory

     

    The third part of the Detroit Pistons' sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers was highlighted by Joe Dumars' magnificent performance, a performance that would go a long way towards him earning the Finals MVP award. 

    En route to a 31-point performance, Dumars scored 21 in the third quarter, including an outburst in which he put up 17 consecutive points. 

    He also made a game-saving play at the end when he managed to block an open David Rivers shot and save the ball from going out of bounds. The Pistons then ran out the clock to preserve the game. 

33. Dwyane Wade, Game 3 Against Dallas Mavericks, 2006

68 of 100

    Series: 0-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 98-96


    The Miami Heat appeared to be down and out of the NBA Finals after falling behind by 13 points with six minutes left in the fourth quarter while already down two games to none in the series. 

    Although Gary Payton made the game-winner with 9.3 seconds remaining, it was Dwyane Wade who sparked the rally to complete his 42-point, 13-rebound masterpiece. He scored 12 points in the final six minutes of the game. 

32. Kevin Garnett, Game 7 Against Sacramento Kings, 2004

69 of 100

    Series: 3-3 in the Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 83-80 victory

     

    The Minnesota Timberwolves were taken to the wire by the Sacramento Kings, and it took a masterful performance from Kevin Garnett to carry the squad into the Western Conference Finals and meet with the awaiting Los Angeles Lakers. 

    KG dominated from tip-off until the final buzzer on both ends of the court. His final stat-line read 32 points, 21 rebounds, two assists, four steals and five blocks, but he had even more of an impact than that. 

    The Big Ticket also managed to hold Chris Webber to 16 points on 8-of-17 shooting, and he dominated the fourth quarter. Garnett racked up 14 points in the quarter, including a stretch when he scored 13-consecutive points for the Wolves. 


31. Shaquille O'Neal, Game 2 Against Indiana Pacers, 2000

70 of 100

    Series: 1-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 111-104 victory

     

    The Indiana Pacers reverted to fouling Shaquille O'Neal over and over during the second game of the 2000 NBA Finals and sent him to the line an NBA-record 39 times. Shaq made 18 of his shots, which, contrary to his belief, is not over 50 percent. 

    Putting those 18 makes to good use and coupling hem with a dominant performance from the field, The Big Diesel scored 40 points and hauled in 24 rebounds to earn the victory in a surprisingly close game. 


30. Wilt Chamberlain, Game 6 Against San Francisco Warriors, 1967

71 of 100

    Series: 3-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 125-122 victory

     

    This was the first time in 11 years that the Boston Celtics had lost before the NBA Finals, and they were replaced by Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers, who had won an incredible 68 games during the regular season. 

    The final game of the series was tightly contested between the Sixers and the San Francisco Warriors. Playing on the road, Wilt didn't shrink from the moment in the fourth quarter, managing to record eight rebounds and swat away six shots. 

    He finished with 24 points, but he got the championship ring and shut down the Warriors in the process. 

29. John Stockton, Game 5 Against Los Angeles Lakers, 1988

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    Series: 2-2 in the Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 111-109 loss

     

    The Los Angeles Lakers had looked unstoppable going into the Western Conference Semifinals, but the Utah Jazz had played them well so far, splitting the first four games of the series. 

    In the fifth game, John Stockton did everything he possibly could to keep his team within range of taking the lead in the series. Scoring 23 points, Stockton tied Magic Johnson's playoff record with 24 assists in the game, and his two steals in the final minute of the game were almost enough to help eke out a victory. 

    Stockton had five steals in the game, but Michael Cooper's jumper with seven seconds remaining would be just enough for the Lakers to go home victorious. 

28. Kobe Bryant, Game 1 Against Orlando Magic, 2009

73 of 100

    Series: 0-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 100-75 victory

     

    This game was close after the first quarter, but that quickly changed as the Los Angeles Lakers outscored the Orlando Magic by double-digits in both the second and third quarters. 

    It was a vintage Kobe Bryant game, as he scored 40 points while grabbing eight rebounds, dishing out eight assists and stealing and blocking the ball two times apiece. 

    Only Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan and Jerry West had ever gone 40/8/8 in the NBA Finals. 



27. Dwyane Wade, Game 5 Against Dallas Mavericks, 2006

74 of 100

    Series: 2-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 101-100 victory

     

    I can feel the comments coming because of the refereeing in this game, or the lack thereof.

    Regardless of what the zebras did, Dwyane Wade was simply phenomenal, as he scored 43 points in 51 minutes of action while going 21-of-25 from the charity stripe, including a pair of free throws to win the game with 1.9 seconds left in overtime.

    Wade was at his best during the second half of action, scoring 26 points in the second half, including the last 11 for his team. In overtime, he added another four of his team's eight points to leave no doubt about who the best player on the court was. 


26. Vinnie Johnson, Game 5 Against Portland Trail Blazers, 1990

75 of 100

    Series: 3-1 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 92-90 victory


    There was a reason that Vinnie Johnson was known as The Microwave. For whatever reason, he had the remarkable ability to heat up. and that was shown off during the final game of the 1990 NBA Finals. 

    The Bad Boys were trailing a few minutes into the fourth quarter, but then, Johnson scored all nine points for the Detroit Pistons during a 9-0 run and helped his squad take a 77-76 lead with 6:35 remaining on the clock. 

    At the end of the game, Johnson caught fire again and scored seven of the Pistons' last nine points, including a 14-footer with 0.7 seconds remaining to earn the two-point victory and the title. 

25. Bill Russell, Game 7 Against St. Louis Hawks, 1957

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    Series: 3-3 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 125-123 victory

     

    Rookies are supposed to feel a little bit of pressure, but Bill Russell seemed immune to it during the double-overtime victory in Game 7 of the 1957 NBA Finals. 

    The man who would go on to win more rings than any other player in NBA history would score 19 points and grab 32 rebounds in the decisive game. No rookie had ever pulled down more rebounds in an NBA Finals game. 

24. Michael Jordan, Game 4 Against Phoenix Suns, 1993

77 of 100

    Series: 2-1 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 111-105 victory

     

    Coming off a lackluster 19-of-43 shooting performance in the Game 3 loss, Michael Jordan rebounded quite nicely in the Game 4 victory that pushed the Chicago Bulls one step closer to the franchise's first of two three-peats. 

    En route to tying Rick Barry for the second-highest scoring output in NBA Finals history, Jordan nailed 21 of his 37 shots from the field for 55 points and let the world know that he wasn't going to suffer through any sort of extended slump during the Finals. 


23. Rick Barry, Game 3 Against the Philadelphia 76ers, 1967

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    Series: 0-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 130-124 win

     

    Against a 68-win Philadelphia 76ers team that still remains one of the best squads in NBA history, Rick Barry simply could not be stopped. It was one of the few bright spots for the San Francisco Warriors during their six-game stand in the NBA Finals. 

    Barry averaged 40.8 points per game during the final series of the season, a record that would stand for quite some time. The highlight though was his 55-point outburst in Game 3. 

22. Bill Russell, Game 5 Against St. Louis Hawks, 1961

79 of 100

    Series: 3-1 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 121- 112 victory

     

    Bill Russell was absolutely incredible during the final game of the 1961 NBA Finals. Is anybody actually surprised? 

    While holding Bob Pettit to just 7-of-22 from the field, Russell scored 30 points and hauled in 38 rebounds. No player on either squad topped either of those numbers. 

    Thanks to Russell's offensive and defensive dominance, the Boston Celtics won their third straight title. 

21. Cedric Maxwell, Game 7 Against Los Angeles Lakers, 1984

80 of 100

    Series: 3-3 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 111-102 victory

     

    In a game that featured Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy, it was Cedric Maxwell who emerged as the hero in Game 7 of the 1984 NBA Finals. 

    Just pause and let that sink in. 

    Maxwell swiped the ball away from Magic Johnson to end a furious Los Angeles Lakers rally and finished the game with 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the contest. 


20. Michael Jordan, Game 6 Against Utah Jazz, 1998

81 of 100

    Series: 3-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 87-86 victory

     

    For all intents and purposes, let's just call this the last game of Michael Jordan's career. 

    In what ended up being the final game of the 1998 NBA Finals, Jordan's last time putting on the red and black Chicago Bulls jersey, the Utah Jazz held a one-point lead near the end of the fourth quarter. 

    While Karl Malone held the ball, Jordan pretended to follow his man to the weakside, but instead stripped the ball from Malone. The only times it left Jordan's hands after that were when he dribbled it and when he launched the game-winning 20-footer over Byron Russell (who he may or may not have pushed away from himself). 

    Winning his sixth NBA title and completing his second three-peat, Jordan finished the game with 45 points. 

19. Tim Duncan, Game 1 Against New Jersey Nets, 2003

82 of 100

    Series: 0-0 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 101-89 victory

     

    Talk about getting off to a dominant start in the NBA Finals. 

    Playing against a young Jason Collins and an old Dikembe Mutombo, both terrific defenders, Duncan played well in absolutely every facet of the game. 

    No player has ever recorded a five-by-five, but Duncan has come the closest. He scored only eight points in the first half, but reeled off 24 more points to break the tie in the second half and finished with 32. The Big Fundamental also added 20 rebounds, seven blocks, six assists and three steals. 


18. Bill Walton, Game 6 Against Philadelphia 76ers, 1977

83 of 100

    Series: 3-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 109-107 victory

     

    The Portland Trail Blazers had never even made the playoffs before the 1976-1977 season, but they advanced all the way to the NBA Finals that year. Unfortunately, things got off to a rough start, as the Philadelphia 76ers won the first two games of the series. 

    Portland, led by the red-bearded Bill Walton, stormed back, though, and took the series in six games. 

    In that decisive Game 6, Walton had a performance that locked up his Finals MVP Trophy, with 20 points, 23 rebounds, seven assists and eight blocks. 

    Blazermania survived thanks to the efforts of Walton and a missed shot by George McGinnis at the final buzzer. 

17. Shaquille O'Neal, Game 2 Against Philadelphia 76ers, 2001

84 of 100

    Series: 0-1 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 98-89 victory

     

    After Allen Iverson's outburst in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers rebounded behind a near quadruple-double from Shaquille O'Neal. 

    Superman scored 28 points, grabbed 20 rebounds, dished out nine assists and swatted away eight shots, which tied him for the playoff record in the category.

    The only reason this game was even close was that the Philadelphia 76ers went on a 7-0 run, while Shaq was resting with five fouls. 

16. Sleepy Floyd, Game 4 Against Los Angeles Lakers, 1987

85 of 100

    Series: 0-3 in the Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 129-121 victory

     

    Sleepy Floyd was simply tired of losing. He and the Golden State Warriors had lost the first three games of the series to the Los Angeles Lakers, and they were trailing by 14 points when the fourth quarter began. 

    Floyd was coming off a 10-point third quarter and had 22 in the game, but that clearly wasn't going to be enough. 

    Knocking down 12 of his 13 shots in the field, Floyd exploded for 29 points in the fourth quarter, setting a record for points in a playoff quarter that still stands. He finished with 51 points and carried his team to their only victory in the series. 

15. Jerry West, Game 7 Against Boston Celtics, 1969

86 of 100

    Series: 3-3 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 108-106 loss

     

    This was Jerry West's sixth appearance in the NBA Finals, and it ended in the same way that the previous five did: with a loss to the Boston Celtics. 

    However, West performed so admirably in the losing effort that he became the first, and still only, player to be named Finals MVP in a losing effort. It was also the first time anyone was named Finals MVP.  

    In this Game 7 battle, West put up a triple-double at home with 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. Amazingly enough, he did so with a noticeable limp. 

14. Tom Heinsohn, Game 7 Against St. Louis Hawks, 1957

87 of 100

    Series: 3-3 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 125-123 victory

     

    The Boston Celtics had never won a championship before the heroics of Tom Heinsohn. 

    During his rookie season, Heinsohn saved his best game for the final opportunity the season had to offer. As Bob Cousy, Jim Loscutoff and Bill Sharman struggled immensely under the pressure of the Game 7 spotlight, Heinsohn and Bill Russell stepped up their games. 

    The game went to double-overtime, and the rookie forward scored 37 points and grabbed 23 rebounds to help earn the dramatic, series-winning victory. 

13. Bob Cousy, Game 2 Against Syracuse Nationals, 1953

88 of 100

    Series: 1-0 in the Eastern Division Semifinals

    Result: 111-105 victory

     

    This quadruple-overtime victory over the Syracuse Nationals ended up being all about Bob Cousy. 

    The Houdini of the Hardwood scored a then-playoff-record 50 points in the game despite only making 10 field goals. Somehow, someway, he earned 32 trips to the free-throw line and made no less than 30 of them. 

    He scored 25 points in regulation, even with a bad leg, and tied the game with a last-second free throw. Cooz then scored six of his team's nine points in the first overtime, complete with yet another game-tying free throw in the final seconds.

    Cousy scored all four points for the C's in the second overtime and then knocked down a 25-foot shot with just five seconds left to tie the game at 99 in the third overtime before scoring nine points in the final extra period of action to seal the game and send the Celtics into the next round. 

12. Tim Duncan, Game 6 Against the New Jersey Nets, 2003

89 of 100

    Series: 3-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 88-77 victory

     

    Easily the best game of Tim Duncan's storied career, The Big Fundamental sure picked a good time to have it. 

    The league's MVP absolutely dominated throughout Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals, but still found his San Antonio Spurs trailing by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter. 

    After Rodney Rodgers made a three-pointer to extend the lead to nine points with 8:55 remaining, Duncan took over defensively. He had two blocks, a rebound and an assist in the next 2:30 as the Spurs scored 10-straight points to take the lead. 

    Duncan continued to dominate defensively as the Spurs extended a lead of their own and finished with 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and eight blocks in the game, just two rejections shy of a quadruple-double. 

    His eight blocks also tied an NBA playoff record (although Bill Russell almost certainly had more in a few games back in the day).

11. Bill Russell, Game 7 Against Los Angeles Lakers, 1962

90 of 100

    Series: 3-3 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 110-107 victory

     

    BIll Russell was one year removed from a crazily good game in the final contest of the 1961 NBA Finals, but he wasn't done yet. No. 6 threw up yet another incredible stat line, this time in an overtime victory in Game 7 of the 1962 NBA Finals. 

    Against Elgin Baylor and Jerry West's Los Angeles Lakers, Russell helped the Boston Celtics win their fourth-straight title by cleaning the glass for 40 rebounds and adding 30 points while completely minimizing the offensive output of the Lakers' frontcourt members. 

10. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Game 5 Against Philadelphia 76ers, 1980

91 of 100

    Series: 2-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 108-103 victory

     

    Coming off a Game 4 loss to even the series (complete with the epic Julius Erving baseline scoop), the Los Angeles Lakers had to win Game 5 at home. 

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was having a good, but not necessarily great, game for the Lakers, scoring 26 points in the first two-and-a-half quarters of play. But then, he stepped on the foot of Lionel Hollins and badly sprained his ankle, forcing him out of action and into the locker room. 

    Surprisingly, though, the master of the sky-hook limped back out onto the court a few minutes later and contributed 11 points down the stretch while blocking two shots. He got to his final total of 40 points (in addition to his 15 rebounds and four blocks) by dunking over Erving and finishing the three-point play at the line to give his team a 106-103 lead with just 33 seconds remaining. 

9. Michael Jordan, Game 2 Against Boston Celtics, 1986

92 of 100

    Series: 0-1 in the Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 135-131 loss

     

    Playing with a relatively weak Chicago Bulls team against a Boston Celtics squad that has to be considered among the greatest teams of all-time, Michael Jordan overcame a lack of practice throughout the season—thanks to a broken foot that limited him to 18 games—and flat-out dominated. 

    It was M.J.'s second season in the league, and the pressure was on in the Boston Garden, but Jordan found the strength and skill necessary to score more points than anyone else in the history of the NBA Playoffs, even if it did require two overtimes to reach the total. 

    More than likely in a gracious mood after a hard-fought victory, Larry Bard famously said after the game, "I didn't think anyone was capable of doing what Michael has done to us. He is the most exciting, awesome player in the game today. I think it's just God disguised as Michael Jordan."

    Now that is a compliment.

8. James Worthy, Game 7 Against Detroit Pistons, 1988

93 of 100

    Series: 3-3 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 108-105 victory

     

    They called him Big Game James for a reason. 

    It was the triple-double from James Worthy that pushed the Los Angeles Lakers over the top and made the squad the first to repeat as NBA champions since the Boston Celtics did so 19 years earlier. 

    Worthy had never recorded a single triple-double in his career, but he saved the only one for a special time. The goggled forward walked out of The Forum with a Finals MVP trophy in hand and 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists on the stat-sheet. 

7. Isiah Thomas, Game 6 Against Los Angeles Lakers, 1988

94 of 100

    Series: 3-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 103-102 loss

     

    Isiah Thomas finished this game with 43 points, three rebounds, eight assists, six steals and a block, but his box score comes nowhere close to telling the full story. 

    The Los Angeles Lakers were close to running away with this game in the third quarter, but Zeke took over. He scored 14 points in a row before rolling his right ankle on a pass to Joe Dumars and collapsing as he tried to run up the court. 

    However, as one of the best warriors that this game has ever witnessed, Thomas stayed in the game while limping and scored 11 of his team's final 15 points in the third quarter to complete his NBA-record 25-point quarter. 

    Thomas' performance continued into the fourth quarter, but the Detroit Pistons would fall by one-point after a Dumars jumper failed to find its mark. 

    Still, this game by Thomas can be called nothing short of heroic.  

6. Bob Pettit, Game 6 Against Boston Celtics, 1958

95 of 100

    Series: 3-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 110-109 victory

     

    Bill Russell returned from injury and wasn't playing at full strength, but even the greatest defensive big man of all time might not have been able to slow down an inspired Bob Pettit in Game 6 of the 1958 NBA Finals. 

    The St. Louis Hawks' best player scored 19 of the team's final 21 points, including a drive on Russell with less than 20 seconds remaining and a tip-in in the final seconds. He finished the game with a staggering 50 points. 

5. Walt Frazier, Game 7 Against Los Angeles Lakers, 1970

96 of 100

    Series: 3-3 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 113-99 victory

     

    I'm convinced that this is one of the most underrated individual performances in NBA history, simply because Willis Reed's four points in his return from a torn thigh the game before have always overshadowed the greatness of Walt Frazier. 

    As emotional as it was to hear "Here comes Willis!", it was the performance of Clyde that truly lifted the New York Knicks to their first NBA title. 

    Frazier was simply phenomenal throughout Game 7 and finished with 36 points, 19 assists and seven rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers. He scored 22 of his points in the first half as the Knicks built a 20-point lead, and probably would have finished with more than 36 if he had needed to. 

4. Elgin Baylor, Game 5 Against Boston Celtics, 1962

97 of 100

    Series: 2-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 126-121 victory


    No matter what kind of defense the Boston Celtics threw at Elgin Baylor, they simply could not stop him during Game 5. Baylor poured it into the basket all night long, scoring a Finals record 61 points while pulling down 22 rebounds. 

    Against Satch Sanders and Bill Russell in the Boston Garden, this was no easy feat. 

    It was the first Finals appearance for the Lakers and the sixth-straight for the C's, who would go on to win the title in seven games. However, everything could have been different if Frank Selvy had knocked down his open jumpshot from the baseline with just five seconds remaining in Game 7. 

3. LeBron James, Game 5 Against Detroit Pistons, 2007

98 of 100

    Series: 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 109-107 victory


    I honestly just can't describe this any better than NBA.com did: 


    May 31, 2007 – Mark it down as the official date LeBron James became a great NBA player. Nothing King James did in his brief NBA career prior to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals came remotely close to the all-around brilliance he displayed in single-handedly leading the Cavs to victory over the Detroit Pistons and one win away from the franchise’s first ever Finals appearance.

    With the Cavs trailing by seven --- 88-81 – with just over three minutes to play in regulation, James officially entered the Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird playoff territory. James was unstoppable. A layup, a three-pointer and two power slams within the last 31.4 seconds forced the game into overtime. The first overtime session saw James hit a pair of free throws, a dunk and an off balanced 20-footer giving the Cavs the lead only to watch the Pistons tie the game via free throws to force a second overtime session. In the second OT, James continued his roll, nailing a 26-footer to tie the game at 107 with 1:14 remaining and later driving past the Pistons defense for the game winning layup.

    When the buzzer sounded, the breathtaking display saw James score the Cavs final 25 points and 29 of the team’s last 30 against a veteran Pistons team.

    "That was unbelievable – I've never seen anything like that, ever," smiled Daniel Gibson. "Words can't describe the determination he put out there. The heart, the effort. It was just amazing."

2. Michael Jordan, Game 5 Against Utah Jazz, 1997

99 of 100

    Series: 2-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 90-88 victory

     

    It doesn't get much better than the famous "Flu Game," complete with an exhausted Michael Jordan collapsing into the arms of Scottie Pippen after willing his team to victory. 

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, a video may be worth a thousand pictures. 

    So I'd strongly recommend just watching this video


1. Magic Johnson, Game 6 Against Philadelphia 76ers, 1980

100 of 100

    Series: 3-2 in the NBA Finals

    Result: 123-107 victory

     

    The stage doesn't get much bigger: series-clinching Game 6, on the road, with the All-Star sidelined. 

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was out with a severely sprained ankle, so Magic Johnson, a 20-year-old rookie point guard, started in his place at center in Philadelphia. It would have been impressive enough if he played decently. 

    But instead, Magic scored 42 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and dished out seven assists while adding three steals and a block, even if he did lose the opening tip to Caldwell Jones. 

    He was quite fittingly named the MVP. 

    Honestly, could anything be better?