The Top 10 Playoff Performances
Posted Jun 4 2007 2:46PM
What about Magic’s Game 6 one-man show versus the Sixers in 1980 …..I watched it on tape delay at 10:30 p.m. on Channel 2, the local CBS affiliate in Chicago.
And that’s how you know LeBron’s historic night versus the Pistons was special. You’ll always remember where you were when he scored an unfathomable 25 consecutive points against the Detroit Pistons.
Everything LeBron accomplished in his young NBA career up until Game 5 made you think he was merely a special player. And then during every off balance 20 footer or uncontested dunk on his way to scoring 29 of the Cavs final 30 points, made you realize that he’s an (all-time) great player.
1. The 1980 Declaration of Magic Johnson (Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals) |
“They all looked at me like I’m silly,” Johnson said. “It was like, ‘This young kid … yeaaah, right.” With Magic at center, the Lakers were relentless in pushing the fast break catching the bigger and less athletic Sixers off guard. The strategy worked as the Lakers and Sixers were tied at halftime, 60-60.
The Lakers then exploded to a 14-0 lead to open the third quarter and never looked back, silencing the stunned Spectrum crowd.
“That when it got really, really quiet,” said Johnson. “They couldn’t believe what was happening.”
For the game, Johnson recorded 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals to clinch the Lakers first of five titles of the ’80s and was named Finals MVP for his performance. Overshadowed in Magic’s brilliant all-around effort was Jamaal Wilkes who scored 37 in that games, 25 in the second half.
2. LeBron’s Historic Night: James Scores Cavs’ Final 25 points in Double OT Thriller (Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals) |
LeBron's 48| Watch Both OTs| All Access
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 unbelieveable – 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."
3. MJ Flu Game (Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals) |
Even Scottie Pippen didn’t think his teammate could play after seeing him inside the Delta Center before the game. "The way he looked, there's no way I thought he could even put on his uniform. "I'd never seen him like that. He looked bad -- I mean really bad." Jordan did play but wasn’t clearly 100 percent and it was evident in the first quarter. Yet in the second quarter, Jordan showed signs of life, regaining energy and stamina and somehow finding a way to score 17 points.
While fluids and cold towels tried to improve Jordan’s condition at halftime, he was clearly hurting in the third quarter. The fourth quarter yielded better results as Jordan’s desire prevailed despite his flu-like symptoms.
Trailing 85-84 with 46 seconds remaining in regulation, Jordan was fouled and proceeded to hit one of two free throws. After his second attempt was short, the ball was tipped by Toni Kukoc and immediately grabbed by Jordan who found Pippen in the post. When Jordan’s defender, Byron Russell, went to double Pippen, Jordan was wide open for a three-pointer, which he drained, as the Bulls took a 88-85 lead en route to an eventual 90-88 victory. Jordan ended the quarter with 15 points.
"That was probably the most difficult thing I've ever done," Jordan said after the game. "I almost played myself into passing out just to win a basketball game. If we had lost, I would have been devastated."
Jordan finished with 38 points on 13 of 27 shooting in 44 minutes of action and left his coach and teammates in awe. "Because of the circumstances, with this being a critical game in the Finals, I'd have to say this is the greatest game I've seen Michael play,” said Phil Jackson. “Just standing up was nauseating for him and caused him dizzy spells. This was a heroic effort, one to add to the collection of efforts that make up his legend."
Said Pippen: “He's the greatest, and everyone saw why tonight."
4. Isiah Motors to 43 Points on a Bum Ankle (Game 6 of the 1988 NBA Finals) |
Eleven minutes later, the Pistons found themselves a mere 60 seconds from its first title holding on to a 102-99 lead only to watch the Lakers pull it out despite Joe Dumars miss from six feet away with eight seconds remaining. Isiah finished the game with 43 points, eight assists, six steals along with a jammed left pinkie, a poked eye, a scratched face and a badly swollen right ankle.
"What Isiah Thomas did in the second half was just incredible," marveled Lakers head coach Pat Riley after the game.
5. M.J.’s 63-Point Special: Jordan Torches the Celtics (Game 2 of the 1986 First Round, NBA Playoffs) |
“Michael was doing so much and so well that I found myself just wanting to stop and watch him ---and I was playing,” said teammate John Paxson.
Jordan made 22 of 41 shots from the field and 19 of 21 free throw attempts in 53 minutes of action as the Bulls lost to the Celtics, 135-131, in a double overtime thriller. “Everyone knew Michael was an excellent player,” said the Celtics’ Danny Ainge, “but I think that was the first time everyone realized how great he was.”
6. Bill Russell 30 Points and 40 Rebound Performance (Game 7, OT, 1962 NBA Finals) |
Despite Russell’s heroics, it is a game perhaps best remembered for Frank Selvy’s baseline jumper miss from seven to eight feet away that could have ended Boston’s dynasty had it gone in.
The 1962 Finals was the official start of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, the first of six Finals meetings the ’60s in which the Celtics went a perfect 6-0 versus the Lakers.
7. Elgin Baylor's 61 Points (Game 5, 1962 NBA Finals) |
And before Michael scored 63 versus the Celtics at Boston Garden, Baylor scored 61 versus the Celtics in Game 5 of the 1962 Finals in Boston, establishing a Finals mark that still stands to this day.
The Celtics defensive specialist Satch Sanders was no match for Baylor who also grabbed 22 rebounds.
“Elgin was just a machine,” said Sanders.
Double teams didn’t work on Baylor since he was such a good passer and one on one coverage wasn’t stopping him either.
The Lakers won Game 5, 126-121 to take a 3-2 lead as the series shifted to Los Angeles. “All I remember is that we won the game,” said Baylor when asked about his historic night. “I never thought about how many points I had."
8. Bob Pettit Soars for 50 (Game 6, 1958 NBA Finals) |
“We had to win that game,” said Pettit. “We did not want to have to go to Boston to try to win Game 7.”
Who could blame him? After all, the Hawks lost a Game 7 double-overtime thriller one year earlier in the Finals at Boston Garden. The Hawks did meet the Celtics in back to back Finals two years later, but it was too late. The Celtics Dynasty was already on a roll to the tune of eight in a row.
“He would play all out, whether he was 50 points ahead of 50 point behind.”—Red Auerbach
9. Clyde Glides to Game 7 Heroics (Game 7, 1970 NBA Finals) |
“I saw the whole Lakers team standing around and staring at this man,” said Frazier. “And Willis set the tempo. He made the first two shots and that was it. We said, ‘The captain is ready. Half of Willis is better than anybody else we could put out there.’
So he provided the inspiration, and in a way I provided the devastation. That was perhaps my best game as a player considering what was on the line – a championship. But entering that game I never thought that I had to score, I had to rebound. I just let it happen, I let the game come to me. Normally [Red] Holzman was telling me to hit the open man. But in this particular game I was the open man.”
10. Miller Time: Reggie’s 25 fourth quarter game vs. Knicks (Game 5, 1994 Eastern Conference Finals) |
Trailing 70-58 entering the fourth quarter, the Pacers seized control thanks to a 14-0 run with Miller contributing 10 of the 14. Miller hit five three-pointers, then an NBA record and scored a total of 25 points, which was four shy of a one-quarter playoff mark. Miller finished with 39 points, including 6 for 11 from three-point territory as the Pacers won 93-86 and single handedly snapped the Pacers 11-game losing streak at the Garden.
For Miller, he relished being the greatest one-man show on earth, especially at the Garden. “You’ve got to be a bad guy,” said Miller. “Good guys finish last, I really do believe that. But I’m two different people. When I’m on the stage I’m into all of that. Away from it I have to ground myself. I’d drive myself crazy if I lived like that.”
10. Big Game James Triple Double (Game 7, 1988 NBA Finals) |
As Magic noted at Worthy’s retirement press conference in 1994: “James Worthy was one of the top 10, top 15 players in playoff history.”
Show at the Joe: King vs. Isiah (1984 Eastern Conference First Round, Game 5)
Nique Vs. Bird 4th Quarter Duel; Game 7, 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals
Sleepy Floyd 29-Point Quarter, 39-Point Half, 51-Point Game!; Game 4, 1987 Western Conference Semifinals
Shaq Flirts With Quadruple Double on Record-Setting Lakers, Game 2, 2001 NBA Finals
Tim Duncan's Finals MVP Performance, Near Quad Double; Game 6, 2003 NBA Finals
Bird Triple-Double, Caps Off 50-1 Record at Home; Game 6, 1986 NBA Finals
Iverson And Sixers Shock Lakers; Game 1, 2001 NBA Finals:
Kobe Takes Over; Game 4, 2000 NBA Finals
Rookies Heinsohn & Russell, Ramsey Lead Celtics To First Title; Game 7, 1957 NBA Finals
Michael Jordan’s 3-Pointers Vs. Blazers; Game 1, 1992 NBA Finals
Rick Barry’s 55 Points Vs. Sixers; Game 3, 1967 NBA Finals
Jerry West's 53 Points in Game 1 Loss to Celtics, 1969 NBA Finals
Dirk Nowitzki 50 Points in Game 5 vs. Suns, 2006 Western Conference Finals