The NBA playoffs always provide excellent moments for fans of the 16 teams fighting to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy. It isn’t rare to see a single superstar carry their team to the promised land with their remarkable play on both ends of the floor. Basketball’s postseason has given us several memorable performances over the years, but these are the 10 best offensive performances in a single NBA playoff run, according to Basketball Reference.
10. Michael Jordan: 666 points (1993)
You will see a lot of the G.O.A.T. on this list. Jordan was one of the game’s most prolific scorers, and he always seemed to find another level during the NBA playoffs. During this 19-game run in 1993, Jordan scored less than 25 points just twice, and he finished two games with more than 50 points, including 55 against the Suns in the Finals.
9. Kobe Bryant: 671 points (2010)
Kobe Bryant’s 2010 playoff run might be one of the most impressive on this list and one of his finest achievements. He didn’t get off to the hottest start, and in a six-game series against Oklahoma City in the first round, he had two performances with less than 15 points. However, once that series ended, he went into cruise control, averaging over 30 points per game in a sweep of the Jazz in round two, and then putting up explosive numbers against Phoenix and Boston. For the entire run, he averaged 29 points per game.
8. Michael Jordan: 680 points (1998)
Jordan’s sixth and final championship with the Chicago Bulls saw him not only put on a scoring clinic but finish the series on one of the most iconic shots in basketball history. He started the playoffs scoring 30-plus points in four straight games, and he finished Game 6 of the NBA Finals with 45 against the Jazz in one of the best games of his career.
7. Kobe Bryant: 695 points (2009)
The first title Kobe won without Shaq was symbolic for several reasons. First, it showed fans he could do it without the Big Aristotle, and second, it kept him firmly entrenched as one of the best players in the league (a designation that the NBA world was not revolving around LeBron James).
Orlando had no answer for Bryant in the Finals, as he started the series off with a 40-point game and averaged 28 points in the Finals.
6. LeBron James: 697 points (2012)
After suffering a stunning defeat to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, LeBron James and the Miami Heat were on a mission to prove everyone wrong in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. James got off to a hot start during that postseason run, as Miami easily dispatched the Knicks in five games. He closed out the playoffs with 21 straight games with 20 or more points, averaging 28.6 PPG against the Thunder in a five-game NBA Finals win.
5. Shaquille O’Neal: 707 points (2000)
When Shaq was in his prime, there wasn’t a human on the planet that could slow him down. Although there was plenty of heartbreak dished out by the Lakers in Kobe and Shaq’s first championship run (sorry Blazers fans), there’s no denying how good O’Neal was on the court.
He started the 2000 NBA playoffs with a 46-point performance against Sacramento and scored 20 or more in the first nine games. Three of his five 40-plus point games came in the Finals against the Pacers, as he took the Indiana front line to school.
4. Allen Iverson: 723 points (2001)
The “Answer” had one defining moment in his only NBA Finals. His crossover dribble, successful baseline jumper, and step over guard Tyronn Lue remains one of the most disrespectful moments in basketball history. Iverson was a scoring machine during his prime, and this playoff run was one of his brightest spots as an NBA player.
He had six games with over 40 points (including two 50-plus point performances), and he finished Game 1 of the Finals with 48 points. The Sixers got a surprising victory over the heavily favored Lakers, but they lost the next four to close out the series.
3. Hakeem Olajuwon: 725 points (1995)
Olajuwon’s second championship run was a thing of offensive beauty. None of the big men he faced that postseason came close to stopping the Dream. It started with a 45-point performance against the Jazz. Then, Olajuwon completely dominated newly-appointed MVP David Robinson in the Western Conference Finals. The Rockets faced Orlando in the Finals, where Olajuwon averaged more than 25 points per game in the sweep.
2. LeBron James: 748 points (2018)
Things started rocky for the Cavs in the 2018 finals. J.R. Smith’s late-game blunder (grabbing an offensive rebound and dribbling out the clock late in a tie game) is one of the most perplexing moments in Finals history. James played exceptionally well during the entire playoff run. He put up dominant performances against Indiana, Toronto (of course), and Boston on the way to the Finals.
He had eight games with 40 or more points, including 51 in the Game 1 loss to Golden State. It wasn’t all great, however, as James’ supporting cast didn’t do much in the Finals, with the Warriors picking up a sweep.
1. Michael Jordan: 759 points (1992)
Sitting at the top of this list by 11 points is His Airness. He had a slew of masterful performances in the 1992 NBA playoffs while leading Chicago to its second straight championship.
During the run, he had four games with 40-plus points. He made an example of Portland’s Cliff Robinson in Game 1 of the NBA Finals by shooting 6-of-10 from behind the arc. There have been a few players close to reaching Jordan’s 1992 numbers, but we don’t expect someone to break it soon.