The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz locked horns earlier tonight is a close affair that went down to the wire with the former winning 80-78. Given the paucity of scoring, fans started to wonder whether any other postseason game had seen a smaller tally. The answer to that is yes. So this begs the question, which is the lowest scoring NBA playoff game in history?
Before we get to it, let's be clear of the time-period in consideration here. The shot-clock was enforced only during the 1954-55 season and games used to be boring and slow prior to that. So we're only looking at matches from that season onwards.
Which is the lowest scoring NBA Playoff game in history?
The 2002 Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 3 featuring the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons is the lowest scoring NBA Playoff game in history with a final score of 66-64 in favor of Boston. Paul Pierce and Jerry Stackhouse led the scoring with 19 points apiece for the Celtics and the Pistons respectively.
Interestingly, each of the top 3 lowest scoring NBA Playoff games featured the gritty Detroit Pistons. In fact, Ben Wallace and Corliss Williamson participated in all the three match-ups.
The second lowest scoring NBA Playoff game was again an East Semifinals game. This time, it was the series opener between the Pistons and the New Jersey Nets in the 2004 NBA Playoffs. It ended 78-56 in Detroit's favor as Wallace came through again with a defensive rating of 52.
The third lowest scoring NBA Playoff game came later during the same postseason with the Pistons now tussling with the Indiana Pacers for a spot in the NBA Finals. It was the sixth game of the series and Detroit led 3-2. They sealed the deal with a 69-65 win. Interestingly, it was the offense that got the job done for the Detroit Pistons who scored 23 in the fourth quarter to secure a comeback victory.
Lowest scoring NBA Playoff game of 2020
The Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets most certainly played out the lowest-scoring NBA playoff game this season. This is even more surprising because the Jazz and Nuggets averaged 119 and 115 points respectively through the six games of this series. When Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray made all the headlines, Nikola Jokic stole the show in Game 7 with 30 points and 14 rebounds.
Interestingly, Denver managed only 30 points in the entire second half, a tally that teams accrue in a single quarter on most nights.