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5 highest-scoring efforts by a player in the first round of the NBA Playoffs

Michael Jordan performed brilliantly in the NBA Playoffs throughout his career
Michael Jordan performed brilliantly in the NBA Playoffs throughout his career
ANALYST

The first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs is still in its early stages, but it has already given NBA fans some quality entertainment.

Though the first round of the NBA Playoffs is not often regarded as the hardest part of the postseason, there have been great performances at this stage throughout history.

Michael Jordan holds the all-time record for the most points scored in a single game of the NBA Playoffs, with his stunning 63-point outing against the almighty 1986 Boston Celtics. Elgin Baylor held the previous record with 61 points in Game 5 of the 1962 NBA Finals.

In this article, we take a look at the five highest-scoring efforts by a player in a single game in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.


#5 Charles Barkley - 56 points vs Golden State Warriors - 1994 NBA Playoffs

Charles Barkley #4, Power Forward for the United States men
Charles Barkley #4, Power Forward for the United States men's national basketball team

In the first round of the 1994 NBA Playoffs, 1993 NBA runners-up Phoenix Suns faced a talented Golden State Warriors team that had the likes of Chris Mullin, Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell.

The Suns' Charles Barkley was a dominant force during the series. He put in great performances during his side's three-game sweep over the Warriors.

Barkley was constantly double-teamed in the first two games, but he found his teammates well enough, recording seven and eight assists, respectively.

In the third game, Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson decided not to double-team Barkley in the post.

The 1993 MVP took full advantage of the decision, putting up 56 points to guide the Phoenix Suns to a 140-133 win. He made 23 of his 31 shots in the game while also grabbing 14 rebounds.


#4 Michael Jordan - 56 points vs Miami Heat - 1992 NBA Playoffs

Michael Jordan in his days with the Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan in his days with the Chicago Bulls

Looking for the Chicago Bulls' second NBA championship, Michael Jordan started the 1992 NBA Playoffs with solid outings against the Miami Heat in the first round.

Jordan scored 46 points in Game 1, 33 points in Game 2 and sealed the Bulls' sweep with 56 points in Game 3. He made 20 of his 30 shots in the third game and 16 of his 18 free throws while attempting zero three-pointers.

MJ also dished out five assists, grabbed five rebounds and recorded four steals in the Chicago Bulls' 119-114 victory.


#3 Wilt Chamberlain - 56 points vs Syracuse Nationals - 1962 NBA Playoffs

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain scored 56 points in Game 5 of the 1962 Eastern Division Semifinals (how the first round was officially named back then).

He was playing for the Philadelphia Warriors at the time and led the team to the victory in a five-game series against the Syracuse Nationals.

Chamberlain scored a then playoff-record 56 points (and his career-high in the playoffs) after making 22 of his 48 field goals and 21 of his 22 free throws. He also grabbed 35 rebounds in the Philadelphia Warriors' 121-104 win.


#2 Donovan Mitchell - 57 points vs Denver Nuggets - 2020 NBA Playoffs

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz

Last year's NBA Playoffs gave us some tremendous matchups. The seven-game series between the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz was arguably the highlight of last year's first round, and Donovan Mitchell was one of the key performers in that battle.

The Utah Jazz jumped to a 3-1 lead in the series before the Denver Nuggets came back to win it in seven games.

Mitchell had two 50-point games in the series, joining Allen Iverson in achieving the feat in a single series. However, the Nuggets' Jamal Murray also joined that group, with a couple of 50-point outings of his own.

Mitchell's highest-scoring game of the series was in Game 1 when he put up 57 points in a loss. It is the third-largest tally of points in a single postseason game in NBA history and the second-best in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Mitchell made 19 of his 33 shots in the game, six of his 15 threes and all his 13 free throws. Moreover, he had nine rebounds and seven assists.


#1 Michael Jordan - 63 points vs Boston Celtics - 1986 NBA Playoffs

Michael Jordan against the Boston Celtics
Michael Jordan against the Boston Celtics

Michael Jordan's performance in the second game of the 1986 NBA Playoffs first-round series between the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics will always be remembered.

Jordan scored a playoff-record 63 points at Boston Garden, but the Celtics secured a double-OT win over the Bulls.

MJ played only 18 games in the regular season due to a foot injury, but he was stunning in the postseason.

He scored 49 points in a loss in Game 1. He then exploded to make 22 of his 41 field goals and 19 of his 21 free throws in the second game.

His effort still stands as the all-time playoff record for most points in a single game and is often regarded as one of his best performances in the NBA Playoffs.

Jordan also grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists in the game.

On the Boston Celtics' end, Larry Bird put up 36 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.


Also read: 3 things the LA Clippers need to do to bounce back against the Dallas Mavericks | 2021 NBA Playoffs

Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh
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