In the almost 75 years of the NBA, there have been some legendary individual performances in the playoffs. As you might expect, Michael Jordan has been one of the NBA postseason’s most prolific players in points production. Who else tops the list? Here is a list of the top 10 players who scored the most points in an NBA playoff game.
6 (Tie). Rick Barry, San Francisco Warriors (April 18, 1967) — 55
Hall of Famer Rick Barry had the best season of his 14-year NBA career in 1966-67, averaging an impressive 35.6 points per game. That postseason the San Franciso Warriors faced Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers. Barry, continuing what he had done in the regular season, put on a show against the 76ers scoring 55 points on 22-of-48 shooting from the field. He also converted 11 of 19 free throws.
6 (Tie). Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers (April 20, 2003) — 55
Allen Iverson appears in the top 10 just once for most points in an NBA playoff game, but has a couple of other performances in the top 20. Iverson’s best playoff performance came in 2003 against the New Orleans Hornets, where he went off for 55 points, which included 21 of 32 from the field, 3 of 5 from three-point range, and 10 of 11 from the line.
6 (Tie). Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls (Three times) — 55
Not surprisingly, Michael Jordan appears most often in the players with the most points scored in an NBA playoff game. Jordan appears in the top 10 an unbelievable five times. Jordan reached the 55-point plateau on three separate occasions, including once in 1988, and a couple of times when he led the Bulls to NBA titles in 1993 and 1997.
3 (Tie). Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors (March 22, 1962) — 56
Surprisingly, Wilt Chamberlain, the player with the most-ever points in a game at 100 only appears once in the top 10 for most points scored in an NBA playoff game. Interestingly, Chamberlain’s best playoff performance came just a couple of weeks after his 100-point performance. In the playoffs, he scored 56 points against the Syracuse Nationals. He finished shooting 22 of 48 from the floor and 12 of 22 from the free-throw line.
3 (Tie). Charles Barkley, Phoenix Suns (May 4, 1994) — 56
Charles Barkley may be known for his commentary and comedy as an announcer today, but back in the day, the Round Mound of Rebound could put up points in bunches. He did just that against the Golden State Warriors in the 1994 playoffs. Barkley, who was known for his inside game, scored most of his points in the paint finishing with 23-of-31 shooting from the floor. He also scored from beyond the arc converting on 3 of 4 and he went 7 of 9 from the free-throw line.
3 (Tie). Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls (April 29, 1992) — 56
In between a pair of Michael Jordan’s 55-point performances in 1988 and 1993, Jordan snuck in a 56-point performance in 1992 against the Miami Heat. In the first-round matchup against the Heat, Jordan had a dominating performance scoring 56 on 20-of-30 shooting from the floor. He also converted on 16 of 18 free throws.
2. Elgin Baylor, Los Angeles Lakers (April 14, 1962) — 61
In the hard-fought 1961 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, Elgin Baylor scored 61 in game 5 of the series for the LA Lakers and, at the time, it was the most points ever scored in an NBA playoff game. He finished the night scoring on 22 of 46 from the field. He added 17 points at the free-throw line.
1. Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls (April 20, 1986) — 63
Michael Jordan makes his fifth appearance in the top 10 list of most points in a playoff game with his memorable 63-point performance in the 1986 playoffs against the Boston Celtics. Interestingly, Jordan’s best playoff performance came in statistically the worst year of his career, when he averaged just 22 points.
That was the same season Jordan broke his foot in November and missed almost five months of action. He entered the postseason fresh and put up the record-setting total against the team’s tough Eastern Conference rivals. His final numbers included 22-of-41 shooting from the floor and 19 of 21 from the line. Most interesting about the performance is it was the only one of the top 10 most points in a playoff game where the high-scoring player’s team lost.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.