Giannis Game 6 2021 NBA Finals

10 greatest single-game performances in NBA Playoff history

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During nearly 80 years of existence, the NBA has featured many incredible players who competed every night to take their teams to the promised land. While some only shined during the regular season, others took things to the next level in the postseason.

Legends of the game recorded some of the best NBA playoff performances, which makes it hard to pick only 10 of them. We’ll try to find the best NBA playoff performances of all time in this list, which will feature the likes of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and others.

These are just three names that have had the greatest NBA postseason performances, but besides them, NBA fans have enjoyed top postseason runs by a player who led their teams to compete for important things.

Stephen Curry – Game 7 2023, First Round

The most recent entry to this list, Stephen Curry, posted an incredible performance against the Sacramento Kings  in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs.

The Golden State Warriors struggled a lot during the regular season, failing to win road games consistently. That trend continued during the first round of the 2023 playoffs until Curry said ‘no more’ and sent the Kings home with a 50-point, 8-rebound and 6-assist performance to advance to the West semis.


Kobe Bryant – Game 6 2006, First Round

Kobe Bryant had a successful NBA career that saw him win five NBA championships in seven trips to the Finals. During those years, Kobe always competed at the highest level, trying to take the Los Angeles Lakers to the promised land.

During the low post-Shaquille O’Neal years, Bryant struggled to lead the Lakers to have deep playoff runs. However, he still put in big performances, including the infamous Game 6 against the Phoenix Suns in the 2006 first round.

Bryant scored 50 points that night, and even though the Lakers couldn’t secure the win, the Black Mamba reminded everybody that he was a bad man and it was a matter of time before he won again.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – Game 6, 2021 NBA Finals

Giannis Antetokounmpo was one of the most criticized NBA players before he won his first championship in 2021.

The Milwaukee Bucks star had every possible individual accolade but not a championship, which often put him under fire, with fans and media members criticizing his shortcomings.


It wasn’t until 2021 that Giannis finally took that step and won a title for the Bucks for the first time in 50 years. In the series-clinching game, Antetokounmpo put on a show, dropping 50 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and even getting five blocks against the Phoenix Suns, who started the series with an 0-2 lead.

LeBron James – Game 6 2012, Eastern Conference Finals

LeBron James has had some of the best NBA playoff games ever, and the first entry in this list happens to be very famous to this day. It’s not a secret that James had a personal duel with the Boston Celtics after many years of trying to beat them with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Back in 2012, James had the chance to send the C’s home and advance to the NBA Finals for the second straight season.

However, the Miami Heat were down 3-2, with many people thinking they were finished.

James had different plans and was on a mission during Game 6 of that series. He went off on his old nemesis, dropping 45 points to go along with 15 rebounds, forcing Game 7. After that statement win, the Celtics didn’t have much to do against the Heat, who took care of the final game, went to the Finals and won the first of two championships for the ‘Heatles.’

Michael Jordan – Game 3, 1992 First Round

Back when the first round of the Playoffs consisted of a five-game series, Michael Jordan was already putting up incredible numbers. The Chicago Bulls legend arguably has the best NBA playoff performances of all time, and this game was another proof of that.

After beating the Miami Heat with ease in the first two games of that series, Jordan had to work extra hard to send the Floridians home. As we all know, that wasn’t a problem for No. 23, who put on the cape and went off against the Heat, dropping 56 to clinch a spot in the second round of the postseason. Jordan ended up winning his second of six NBA championships that year, recording memorable games in the process.

Magic Johnson – Game 6, 1980 NBA Finals

Magic Johnson found himself in a complex situation entering the NBA. He was expected to do wonders for the Los Angeles Lakers but not even the most optimistic fan could predict what Magic would do in the 1980 NBA Finals.

As a rookie, Johnson had to step in for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The then-rookie point guard played at center for Kareem, seemingly giving the Lakers a disadvantage. However, he took care of things and competed at the highest level, scoring 42 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and dishing seven assists to propel the Lakers to the championship.

Isiah Thomas – Game 6, 1988 NBA Finals

Eight years after Magic’s impressive performance against the 76ers, the legendary guard had to see one of his biggest rivals take over one game, trying to push his team to a much-needed win without success.

Isiah Thomas played with all his heart during Game 6 of the 1988 NBA Finals. With the Pistons leading the series 3-2, Thomas was set to finish the job and send the Lakers home. Despite his heroics, as he scored 25 points in the third quarter of that game, the Pistons couldn’t get past the Lakers and ultimately lost the game. Thomas finished that duel with 43 points and eight assists and a hurt ankle, which ultimately opened the door for the Lakers to win the championship in Game 7.

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving – Game 5, 2016 NBA Finals

It’s already rare to see one player going off and lighting the competition up, but seeing two going at it and posting incredible numbers in the same game is more unique. That’s what happened during the 2016 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. After going down 3-1 in the Finals, the Cavs had to work extra hard to extend this series.

Their two best players, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, showed up and showed out, scoring 41 points apiece, sending a clear statement to the Warriors. This series was anything but over as long as these two were on the court, and what followed was the confirmation. James and Irving carried the team to Game 7, where they once again beat the Warriors to make history. This is still one of the most memorable Finals of all time, but it’s mandatory to say it all started with that incredible Game 5 from James and Irving.

LeBron James – Game 5 2007, Eastern Conference Finals

Once again LeBron James shows up on this list. The four-time NBA champion used to be a one-man show in Cleveland, which oftentimes forced him to go against the competition on a solo mission, sometimes losing against better, deeper teams and sometimes single-handedly destroying them.

Back in 2007, he was going against the Detroit Pistons who were ready to return to the NBA Finals. However, the King had different plans and with a terrific Game 5 dismantled the Pistons on his way to the Finals. James finished that game with 48 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. He scored 25 straight points to beat the Pistons, showing that he was ready to take the next step with the Cavs.

Michael Jordan – Game 2, 1986 First Round

When talking about statement playoff games, this is the prime example of it. Back in 1986, Michael Jordan was still trying to find his place in the NBA. The young Chicago Bulls player was a star in the making and when the playoffs arrived, he put everybody on notice. Jordan had the difficult task of beating the almighty Boston Celtics. However, that never stopped the future six-time champion.

In Game 2 of that series, Jordan went off, dropping 63 points on the legendary franchise, driving defenders crazy and making Larry Bird and co. work extra hard to stop MJ. In one of the best NBA playoff performances ever, Jordan was described by Bird as ‘God disguised as Michael Jordan.’ That game was incredible for Jordan, who sent a big warning to the NBA about what was coming for them.

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