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  • Writer's pictureStuart Kavanagh

5 Greatest NBA Playoff Performances

The best NBA performances when it mattered most

The NBA Playoffs have provided fans with some of the most thrilling and iconic moments in basketball history. These high-stakes games bring out the best in players, creating opportunities for athletes to showcase their talents and etch their names into the annals of NBA lore.

With the 2023 NBA Playoffs kicking off, we thought we'd take a look at five of the greatest NBA Playoff performances of all time.


Michael Jordan's "Flu Game" - 1997 NBA Finals, Game 5

In the annals of NBA history, few moments are as memorable as Michael Jordan's legendary "Flu Game." During Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz, Jordan battled through a severe case of the flu, scoring an incredible 38 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and dishing out five assists. Despite his illness, Jordan's sheer will and determination carried the Bulls to a 90-88 victory, putting them one win away from their fifth NBA championship.

Magic Johnson's "Baby Sky Hook" - 1987 NBA Finals Game 4

Magic Johnson's "Baby Sky Hook" is one of the most iconic shots in NBA history. During Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, the Lakers found themselves down by one point with only seconds remaining on the clock. Johnson, a 6'9" point guard, drove to the basket and released a sky hook shot over the outstretched arms of Celtics defenders Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. The shot went in, securing a 107-106 victory for the Lakers and ultimately leading them to their fourth championship of the decade.

LeBron James' Triple-Double - 2016 NBA Finals, Game 7

LeBron James cemented his status as one of the all-time greats with his performance in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. Facing the record-setting 73-win Golden State Warriors, James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first-ever NBA championship with a triple-double, scoring 27 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing out 11 assists. His chase-down block on Andre Iguodala in the closing minutes of the game is now considered one of the most iconic defensive plays in NBA history.

Tim Duncan Goes Nuclear - 2003 NBA FinalsGame 6

Tim Duncan's performance in Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals showcased his all-around brilliance as a player. Facing the New Jersey Nets, Duncan fell just two blocks shy of a quadruple-double, finishing the game with 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists, and 8 blocks. This dominant performance helped the San Antonio Spurs secure their second NBA championship and solidified Duncan's place among the all-time greats.

Allen Iverson's 48-Point Game - 2001 NBA Finals, Game 1

Allen Iverson's 48-point outburst in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals is one of the most memorable scoring performances in playoff history. Despite being the underdogs against the heavily favoured Los Angeles Lakers, Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers managed to steal Game 1 in overtime, with Iverson scoring 48 points, including a famous step-back jumper over Tyronn Lue. Though the 76ers ultimately lost the series, Iverson's Game 1 performance remains an iconic moment in NBA Playoff history.


These five legendary performances demonstrate the excitement and intensity that the NBA Playoffs have to offer. Whether it's Michael Jordan battling through illness, Magic Johnson hitting a game-winning shot, or LeBron James leading his team to a historic

What do you thinkof this list? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on our socials at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Stuart Kavanagh is a journalist currently residing in Broken Hill, Australia. He writes for the Barrier Truth newspaper, along with being the owner of the sports and entertainment website, He contributes at when time permits. He is also the Media & Communications Director at the Newosis Mental Health Foundation. You can find more about the work Newosis Mental Health Foundation does here.

Sports mad, he is always down for debate and discussion at @stueyissickofit on Twitter.

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