2020 Playoffs: First Round | Clippers vs. Mavericks

Luka Doncic's 42-point Game 1 sets new NBA playoff debut record

The best playoff debut ever?

In a way. Luka Doncic would surely have preferred a 1-0 first-round series lead on the LA Clippers over an individual accomplishment.

Instead, the Slovenian sensation is staring at that deficit despite his 42 points in Game 1 — the highest-scoring game ever by an NBA player in his playoff debut. The second-year playmaker shot 13-for-21 from the field and 14-for-15 from the free-throw line while adding seven rebounds and nine assists to his first postseason impression.

The single-game scoring list Doncic now tops is a combination of all-time legends and ABA transfers in the mid-1970s. None of them broke the 40-point threshold Doncic crossed on Monday.

Most points in playoff debut, NBA history
Rank Player Points Team (vs. opponent) Date
1st Luka Doncic 42 Mavericks (vs. Clippers) Aug. 17, 2020
2nd John Williamson* 38 Nets (vs. 76ers) April 11, 1979
3rd George Mikan 37 Lakers (vs. Chicago Stags) March 23, 1949
T-4th Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 36 Bucks (vs. 76ers) March 25, 1970
T-4th Gary Brokaw 36 Bucks (vs. Pistons) April 13, 1976
T-4th Julius Erving* 36 76ers (vs. Celtics) April 17, 1977
T-4th Derrick Rose 36 Bulls (vs. Celtics) April 18, 2009
* = played in ABA playoffs prior to NBA playoff debut

Doncic’s performance marks the beginning of a new era for the Mavericks, who are making their first playoff appearance without franchise legend Dirk Nowitzki since 1990.

Nowitzki, a future lock for the Hall of Fame, put up 20 points and 12 rebounds in his playoff debut, a two-point loss to Utah in 2001.