Sat 15/04/2017 - 06:13 EDT

Best Ever NBA Playoff Performances

Best Ever NBA Playoff Performances

By Liam Davis

Determining the best NBA playoff performances of all time will be an objective exercise. We're going to rank the best individual outings over the last 20 years by Basketball-Reference's Game Score, which measures the impact a player had in that game.

Again, this is totally objective, so it doesn't account for certain moments—as in LeBron James' championship-winning block in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. That will go down as one of the greatest singular plays ever, but we're interested in entire bodies of work, wire-to-wire, which is why Game Score is the best ranking tool.


10. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Date: June 16, 2016

Opponent: Golden State Warriors

Setting: Game 6 NBA Finals

Game Score: 42.5

Stat Line: 41 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks, 16-of-27 shooting

Outcome: Win

See? LeBron James' Game 7 performance against the Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals didn't make it, but his Game 6 outing did. And this one was, in fact, more epic. It was the game that proved the Cavaliers had a chance. After all, the Warriors were without Game 5. This was James' statement outing.


9. Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

Date: April 27, 1997

Opponent: Washington Bullets

Setting: Game 2 Eastern Conference First Round

Game Score: 42.8

Stat Line: 55 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 22-of-35 shooting

Outcome: Win

Is there anything better than Michael Jordan double nickels? Hardly. The dude's penchant for making two-point shots will forever be unprecedented.


8. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Date: May 13, 2001

Opponent: Sacramento Kings

Setting: Game 4 Western Conference Semifinals

Game Score: 43.3

Stat Line: 48 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 15-of-29 shooting

Outcome: Win

Kobe Bryant has an iffy relationship with advanced metrics, and you can make the case that he was never even the best player, during the postseason, for his Lakers championship teams. Still, this playoff performance, like many others, was iconic. It also makes you long for the Kobe-Shaquille O'Neal days.


7. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Date: April 23, 2008

Opponent: Denver Nuggets

Setting: Game 2 Western Conference First Round

Game Score: 43.6

Stat Line: 49 points, 4 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 18-of-27 shooting

Outcome: Win

Another Kobe Bryant performance, this one coming as proof that he could be the face of a title contender without Shaq.


6. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Date: May 9, 2009

Opponent: Atlanta Hawks

Setting: Game 3 Eastern Conference Semifinals

Game Score: 43.8

Stat Line: 47 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 15-of-25 shooting

Outcome: Win

LeBron really was a one-man shot back during his first go-round with the Cavaliers. Cleveland beat Atlanta by 15 in this one, but if he doesn't tally his 47-point triple-double there's a better than good chance his team loses.


5. Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers

Date: April 20, 2003

Opponent: New Orleans Hornets

Setting: Game 1 Eastern Conference First Round

Game Score: 44.6

Stat Line: 55 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, one steal, 21-of-32 shooting

Outcome: Win

Before there was Isaiah Thomas, there was Allen Iverson. And though, in hindsight, he was often inefficient, this wasn't one of those times. He absolutely torched the Hornets. Even today, it's still amazing that he was able to get off some of the shots that he did.


4. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Date: May 20, 2009

Opponent: Orlando Magic

Setting: Game 1 Eastern Conference First Round

Game Score: 44.7

Stat Line: 49 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 20-of-30 shooting

Outcome: Loss

This is the only game on the list that includes a loss. LeBron was amazing obviously, but it's night like this, when he couldn't get enough help from his supporting cast, that speak to the reason he eventually left Cleveland for the Miami Heat. His departure, for the record, would come a little more than one year later, during 2010 free agency.


3. Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers

Date: May 16, 2001

Opponent: Toronto Raptors

Setting: Game 5 Eastern Conference Semifinals

Game Score: 45.3

State Line: 52 points, 2 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, 21-of-32 shooting

Outcome: Win

Remember the great Allen Iverson-Vince Carter duel during the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2001? This is a great reminder of how spectacular it was. Iverson's propensity for taking and making difficult shots was once again out of this world.


2. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

Date: May 17, 2011

Opponent: Oklahoma City Thunder

Setting: Game 1 Western Conference Finals

Game Score: 46.5

Stat Line: 48 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks, 12-of-15 shooting

Outcome: Win

Never forget how awesome prime Dirk Nowitzki was. Or how fun the 2010-11 Mavericks were. They beat some truly tough teams en route to a championship, including an Oklahoma City Squad armed to the teeth with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka, plus the Big Three-headlined Miami Heat. In this one, Dirk was magnificent, showcasing every advantage possible involved with deploying a hyper-efficient stretch skyscraper.


1. Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors

Date: May 11, 2001

Opponent: Philadelphia 76ers

Setting: Game 3 Eastern Conference Semifinals

Game Score: 46.8

Stat Line: 50 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 4 blocks, 19-of-29 shooting

Outcome: Win

Speaking of the Allen Iverson-Vince Carter duel from 2001...if you don't realize that this was perhaps the greatest playoff performance ever, you're underselling how damn good Vince Carter was at full strength. While the Sixers would get the last laugh in this series, Carter absolutely owned Game 3, proving his worth not only as a shooter, dunker and scorer, but as a playmaker and, most impressively, the best shot-blocking guard in NBA history.

Results / FixturesNBA

Category : Betting Picks

Tag : Allen Iverson , kobe bryant , lebron james , Michael Jordan , nba , nba playoffs , vince carter

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