Michael Jordan’s record for most points in the NBA Playoffs has not been broken since 1986. That was 25 years ago and only one current player had come close to breaking it—Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell dared to enter Jordan’s rarefied air in last year’s NBA Playoffs when he scored 57 points in the bubble on Aug. 17, 2020, during their first-round playoff matchup with the Denver Nuggets.
Mitchell would later score more than 50 points again three games later. Interestingly, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray reached 50 points twice during that series, too. Could these two players, or perhaps others, finally break Michael Jordan’s stranglehold on the single-game NBA Playoffs record?
When Michael Jordan broke the NBA playoffs scoring record
While playing for the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan scored 63 points on April 20, 1986 in a 135-131 double-overtime loss to the Boston Celtics. This was in Game 2 of their first-round playoff match against the Celtics when the 10-time scoring champion broke Elgin Baylor’s 24-year old NBA Playoffs record of 61 points.
Baylor, however, didn’t need overtime to reach 60 points. Nevertheless, Jordan and Baylor are the only players in NBA history to break the 60-point barrier in the NBA Playoffs.
But now with the rules changes that the NBA has adapted to facilitate more scoring, there’s a huge possibility that one of the players from this generation could break Michael Jordan’s long-held record.
#5 Damian Lillard
Career scoring average: 24.7 points per game
2020-21: 28.8 points per game
He has no scoring titles yet, but Damian Lillard has scored at least 60 points three times (all in 2019-20) and 50+ 13 times in his career (including playoffs).
In 2019-20, he scored at least 50 points or more six times including the three 60-point performances. On Monday, Lillard made nine 3-pointers and finished with 42 points overall in Game 2 of their playoff series against the Nuggets.
The six-time All-Star scored 50 points once in his playoff career, one of seven active players to reach the half-century mark. But given the opportunity, he could do it again and possibly break Michael Jordan’s 63-point record in the NBA Playoffs.
#4 Trae Young
Career scoring average: 24.1 points per game
2020-21: 25.3 points per game
Trae Young is the youngest player on this list at 22-years-old and he’s the one with the least NBA Playoffs experience. However, in his first two postseason appearances so far this season, he scored 32 and 30 points against the New York Knicks, the fourth-best defensive team in the regular season.
In his career, Young has already amassed 50 points once, which he accomplished in his sophomore campaign, and has 16 career games of 40 or more points. Plus, the 6-foot-1 point guard is a career 86.1 percent free-throw shooter and, in his last two seasons, averaged nine attempts per game at the line.
His ability to score on drives, 3-pointers and from the free throw line makes him capable of reaching 60 or more points, enough perhaps to surpass the 63-point mark.
#3 Donovan Mitchell
Career scoring average: 23.4 points per game
2020-21: 26.4 points per game
To break the NBA Playoffs scoring record, a player should have absolutely no conscience. Mitchell is just such a player and he has demonstrated that he can score with the best of them in the NBA Playoffs.
The Jazz guard owns two of the top 20 scoring games in NBA postseason history and he’s one of only two active players to have multiple 50-point games (Murray is the other).
Mitchell is seventh all-time in NBA Playoffs scoring with a 27.3 points-per-game average. Furthermore, he was the league’s highest postseason scorer at 36.3 points a night last year.
As a 24-year old, it’s clear that Mitchell has many more years to try and score more than the 63 points that His Airness scored.
#2 Kevin Durant
Career scoring average: 27.0 points per game
2020-21: 26.9 points per game
Kevin Durant is one of the best pure scorers in the NBA today. The four-time scoring champ had three games this season in which he scored 42 points, and had 15 games of 30 or more.
But it’s in the NBA Playoffs where Durant truly shines, averaging 29.1 points per outing, which is the fourth-highest scoring average in history.
In the league record books, he has two games in the top 100 scoring records in the NBA Playoffs with 50 and 46 points. He has also scored 40 or more points in the postseason 11 times in his career. Moreover, Durant has led the NBA in playoffs scoring average five times in 10 years, putting Jordan’s record achievement in danger.
#1 Stephen Curry
Career scoring average: 24.2 points per game
2020-21: 32.0 points per game
The player most likely to break Jordan’s NBA Playoffs record of 63 points is none other than Stephen Curry. The Warriors superstar has led the league in scoring twice in his career and he has a 26.5 points-per-game playoff scoring average (10th all-time).
In his last 24 games, he went off and averaged a Jordanesque 36.9 points per game, including a 53-point explosion in mid-April. During that stretch, he scored less than 30 points a mere three times but scored 40+ points eight times. Nine times he made at least eight 3-pointers and 10 or more five times.
The two-time MVP has scored more than 50 points nine times in his career, making him one of the few who could potentially score 64 points or better in the NBA Playoffs.