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Top 5 single-game performances from a player in Round 1 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks and Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers
Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks and Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers
ANALYST

The first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs had some incredible matchups that were settled with tremendous intensity.

The opening round saw the two teams from last year's NBA Finals fall, with the reigning champions LA Lakers losing to the Phoenix Suns and the Miami Heat being swept by the Milwaukee Bucks.

We will now take a look at the five biggest single-game performances from a player in round 1 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

Top 5 individual performances from the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs

Superstars like Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic saw their season end in the first round, but they had extraordinary games in their respective series.

LeBron James, one of the greatest players in the NBA, also fell out of contention, and you'll soon find out if he managed to make our list with his postseason displays.

Without further ado, let us start.


#5 Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns) Game 6 vs LA Lakers

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns

In his first appearance in the NBA Playoffs, Devin Booker refused to let the Phoenix Suns fall against the reigning NBA champions, the LA Lakers.

Both teams faced some tough circumstances during the series. While the Suns had to deal with Chris Paul's shoulder issue early in the series, the Lakers lost Anthony Davis with a groin strain in Game 4.

In Game 6, the Phoenix Suns had the chance to put the LA Lakers away at Staples Center, and Booker made sure it happened.

Booker got off to a hot start with 22 points in the first quarter and six three-pointers. His momentum carried on throughout the night as he scored 47 points. The Suns eventually won their first series since 2010.

Booker's final stat line was 47 points, 11 rebounds and three assists while shooting 15-22 from the field and 8-10 from the three-point line. He also made all nine of his free throws.


#4 Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) Game 5 vs LA Clippers

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles away from Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers
Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles away from Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers

The favored LA Clippers ultimately managed to survive against the Dallas Mavericks in a thrilling seven-game series. The matchup will be remembered for many things, especially Luka Doncic's performances. He averaged 35.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game in the series.

In Game 5, with the LA Clippers flying high after sweeping the Dallas Mavericks and tying the series at 2 apiece, Doncic put in a scintillating performance to help his side to a win. He registered 42 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds to ensure that the Mavs walked away with a 3-2 lead.

Doncic made 17 of his 37 field goals (45.9%), six of his 12 threes and two of his three free throws to give the Dallas Mavericks a five-point game. Though everything fell apart in the sixth and seventh games for the Mavs, Doncic was very impressive for the squad.


#3 Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) Game 5 vs Denver Nuggets

Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard has proven to be a clutch performer in the NBA Playoffs ever since his first NBA postseason series back in 2014. In Game 6 of his debut playoff series, he helped the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Houston Rockets (with James Harden and Dwight Howard) with a game-winning, buzzer-beating three-pointer.

In this year's first-round series, Lillard needed some extraordinary performances to overcome the Denver Nuggets and NBA MVP candidate Nikola Jokic. The series went to Game 6, but Jokic eventually led the Nuggets to the second round.

However, it was not a straightforward affair for Jokic and his squad, as Lillard and company gave them a run for their money.

With the series tied at two apiece ahead of Game 5, Lillard gave his all in search of a 3-2 lead on the road. He scored 55 points (fifth-most in an NBA Playoffs game) and connected two game-saving three-pointers at the end of regulation and OT to keep the Trail Blazers alive. However, the Nuggets ultimately pulled off the win.

Lillard set the all-time record for most threes in a single postseason game with 12 (out of 17 attempts). He was also the first player in NBA history to reach double-digit assists (10) in a 50-point effort in the NBA Playoffs.

Though the Portland Trail Blazers fell in the series, Damian Lillard will always be remembered for having one of the most heroic performances in NBA Playoffs history.


#2 Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) - Game 6 vs Portland Trail Blazers

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic was extraordinary in the series between the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers, impressing everyone with his ability to score and find his teammates.

After surviving Damian Lillard's display in Game 5 of the series, Jokic and the Denver Nuggets were on the road for Game 6. They ended the game behind a big night from the NBA MVP candidate and a big first half from Michael Porter Jr.

Jokic registered 36 points in the game, along with eight rebounds and six assists. 27 of his 36 points came in the second half, in which the Denver Nuggets outscored the Portland Trail Blazers 65-47.

Though other players might've had flashier numbers, Jokic's series-ending efforts in an elimination game on the road are hard to beat.


#1 Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers) - Game 6 vs Dallas Mavericks

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers
Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers

While Jokic's performance was certainly hard to beat, Kawhi Leonard made it look easy in Game 6 against the Dallas Mavericks, even with a lot of pressure on his and the LA Clippers' shoulders.

The Clippers went to Dallas with a 3-2 deficit after dropping Game 5 at home. They were unlikely to win the third game of the series on the road (Dallas had also swept them at LA in the series).

However, the two-time Finals MVP put on an offensive clinic for the LA Clippers and guided them to a seven-point win with 45 points (matching his NBA playoff career-high) and six rebounds. This forced a Game 7 at home, which the Clippers won.

Leonard had a tremendously efficient night as he made 18 of his 25 attempts from the field, five of his nine three-point shots and each of his four free throws. It was a memorable performance and one that could be remembered for ages if the LA Clippers manage to have a deep postseason run.


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Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh
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