We’re less than two weeks away from the start of the NBA Playoffs, an exciting time for 16 teams, and the end of the line for the other 14. In a year full of players – rookies and veterans – capable of some brilliant playoff performances, we thought it’d be a good idea to look back at some of the best individual performances in NBA playoff history. Check it out.

Magic Johnson – 1980 NBA Finals, Game 6

Let’s start off with one that the youngest of NBA fans might not know about. In game six of the 1980 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers were up in the series 3-2 against the Philadelphia 76ers. Unfortunately for LA, MVP center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sat out with an ankle injury. This meant that 20-year-old – standing at six-foot-nine – had to step in at the center position. This was unprecedented for any guard, especially a rookie, but Magic stepped up to the task and helped the Lakers close out the series and hoist the championship trophy. You’ll look at the stats and see probably one of the lower point totals on our list but Magic’s all-around game and ability to step in at center put it in the books as one of the greatest playoff performances in history.

Stats

Points – 42
Assists – 7
Rebounds – 15
Steals – 3
Blocks – 1

Michael Jordan – 1986 Eastern Conference First Round, Game 2

If you can find a way to watch this game in its entirety, do it. MJ’s performance in game two against Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics will make your jaw drop. Sure, Boston swept the series, but it certainly wasn’t Jordan’s fault. In game two, MJ went off, hitting 22 of his 41 shot attempts and forcing an overtime against the eventual title-winning Celtics. The Bulls ended up losing by four in OT, but Jordan’s performance drew respect from Boston and even its most hardened of fans.

Stats

Points – 63
Assists – 5
Rebounds – 6
Steals – 3
Blocks – 2

Hakeem Olajuwon – 1987 Western Conference Semifinals, Game 6

In a closeout game six for the Seattle Supersonics, Hakeem and the Houston Rockets refused to go quietly. With an absurd double-double that included hitting 19 of 33 shots and 11 of 13 free throws, Olajuwon carried his team to overtime. Unfortunately, much like the MJ 63-point performance, it just wasn’t quite enough, as the Sonics won 128-125 in OT. Despite that, Hakeem’s dominant game – one in which he didn’t sit for a single second – will always be regarded as one of the greatest playoff performances.

Stats

Points – 48
Assists – 2
Rebounds – 25
Steals – 2
Blocks – 6

Michael Jordan – 1992 Eastern Conference First Round, Game 3

A closeout game three (back when that was a thing) for the Chicago Bulls against the Miami Heat saw another brilliant performance from His Airness. On the road in hostile territory, Jordan hit 20 of 30 shots and 16 of his 18 free throw attempts, leading the Bulls to a series victory 119-114. He simply couldn’t be stopped, finishing the game with 56 points along with five assists.

Stats

Points – 56
Assists – 5
Rebounds – 5
Steals – 4
Blocks – 2

LeBron James – 2007 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 5

There really can’t be an individual playoff performance list without this amazing game from a young LeBron James. During his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, when the organization’s idea of a supporting cast included Larry Hughes and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, LeBron basically carried his team to the NBA Finals. However, had it not been for game five of the ECF, that Finals appearance may not have happened.

Playing against the Pistons, James willed his team through four quarters, along with two overtime periods, eventually winning a hard-fought battle 109-107. In 50 minutes of court time, LeBron hit 18 of his 33 shots, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished out seven assists. Even more impressive than the overall stat line was the fact that he scored 29 of his team’s final 30 points, including 25 consecutive, while also hitting the game-winning layup with two seconds remaining. The Cavs rode that win’s momentum into game six, where they grabbed a resounding victory on the way to the Finals.

Stats

Points – 48
Assists – 7
Rebounds – 9
Steals – 2

Charles Barkley – Western Conference First Round 1994, Game 3

In recent years, it’s started to feel like we talk more about Barkley’s oft-exhausting takes on TV, his March Madness commercials, and his horrible golf swing more than we discuss how dominant of a player he was during his best years. In 1994, Sir Charles gave us one of the all-time great performances against the Warriors in a closeout game three.

At 31 years old, Barkley showed no signs of aging when his Phoenix Suns went up against Golden State, especially in game three. In 41 minutes of action, he posted a brilliant double-double that included 56 points and 14 rebounds. In a high-scoring affair, Charles shot an unbelievable 74.2% from the field, hitting 23 of his 31 shots including three of four from behind the arc.

Stats:

Points – 56
Assists – 4
Rebounds – 14
Steals – 3
Blocks – 1

Bill Russell – 1962 NBA Finals, Game 7

A 40-rebound double-double. Yeah, that’s what this historic Bill Russell performance included. In game seven of the 1962 NBA Finals, Russell and the Celtics faced off against the Los Angeles Lakers in one of the greatest games of the iconic rivalry. Russell was a dominant force in the paint, grabbing an amazing 40 rebounds and putting in 30 points on 8 of 18 shooting and 14 of 17 from the line. The Celtics won the title in overtime by three points and Russell’s brilliant performance was a huge reason why.

Stats

Points – 30
Assists – 4
Rebounds – 40

There are certainly many other iconic individual performances that could have made this list, such as Sleepy Floyd’s 51-point, 10-assist game for the Warriors in 1987, but these are a few that we determined as some of the greatest.

As always, keep checking TBA for all things NBA, and don’t forget to use your SeatGeek app for tickets to the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

(Cropped image courtesy of Eric Wong via Flickr.)