In Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets, Donovan Mitchell scored 57 points. So, who are the other players with the most goals in a single Playoff game?
10. Russell Westbrook, First Round 2017 vs. Houston Rockets - 51 points
Russell Westbrook had a magical season in 2016-2017, breaking a slew of records, many of which were triple-double related. Even if it's not what we're interested in today, the icing on the cake that ended his regular season was still a triple-double.
Because in that April 19 Race-2 against the Rockets, Westbrook scored 51 points, which was the first 50-point triple-double in playoff history, in addition to 10 rebounds and 13 assists. Unfortunately for the Thunder, the Thunder's historic night of the number 0 was ruined by their loss to Houston.
Westbrook's only flaw was his shooting percentage, which was 17-43 with a horrifying 4-18 in the fourth quarter. On the other hand, the box score defended Mr. Triple Double, who played a game that will be remembered for a long time despite the loss in the final.
9. Jerry West, 1969 NBA Finals vs. Boston Celtics - 53 points
The NBA logo is Jerry West. Bill Russell dubbed him "the most clutch player ever." He is a historical figure in the league. There will be a reason for everything. There are a lot of them, but one, in particular, is relevant to us right now. Let's go back to 1969, and we're in the first round of the NBA Finals against the Celtics. How do you get around Bill Russell's defense? Keep him occupied with Wilt Chamberlain.
As a result, Jerry West can perform well in good and bad situations, scoring 53 points (17 in the fourth quarter) and leading the Lakers to victory. Although West's team lost the series, he was named MVP of the Finals, the first and only time the award was given to a player on the losing team.
8. Isaiah Thomas, 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Washington Wizards - 53 points
Isaiah Thomas had the best match of his career. The 53 points scored in front of the Washington Wizards was the highest-scoring game of the 2017 Playoffs.
It's the tragic story behind Thomas' Playoffs explosion, namely the death of his sister Chyna two weeks before the game in question. There were many questions about whether Thomas would play in the series against the team led by John Wall. Following the funeral, the former Celtics made the following statements.
7. John Havlicek, 1973 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Atlanta Hawks - 54 points
Imagine scoring 34 points in a Playoff game but not being your team's decisive player. That's what happened to JoJo White in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and the Hawks on April 1, 1973.
Indeed, White's companion, John Havlicek, decided to delight the nearly 12,000 fans in attendance at the Boston Garden by scoring 54 points. Hondo played the entire 48 minutes without showing signs of exhaustion: his box score showed 54 points (16 of which came in a row at the start of the game), as well as 9 rebounds and 6 assists.
The efforts of Maravich and Hudson, who failed to stop Havlicek's evening of grace, were in vain. For Celtics fans and the media at the time, such a performance was a welcome April Fool's joke; for the Hawks, however, it was an unwelcome April Fool's joke.
6. Rick Barry, 1967 NBA Finals vs. Philadelphia 76ers - 55 points
"I wasn't exactly at the top."
Rick Barry said this after Game 3 of the 1967 NBA Finals against the 76ers. These were words that few expected to hear after a 55-point performance. The shooting percentage was the source of self-criticism: the 22 shots scored (at the time, an NBA record for the Playoffs) came out of a total of 48 attempts. It wasn't quite a sniper performance. Even from the free-throw line, Barry's percentages were not great, going 11-19 with his famous underhanded shooting technique.
Even so, the San Francisco Warriors used the 55 points to win the game 130-124, thanks in part to tenacious defense. Wilt Chamberlain scored 26 points and grabbed 26 rebounds for the 76ers.
5. Allen Iverson, 2003 Eastern Conference Round 1 vs. New Orleans Hornets - 55 points
Series Race-1 between the 76ers and the Hornets in 2003: a battle of guards between Baron Davis and Allen Iverson, two of the league's best. The first fell short of expectations, receiving only 10 points. On the other hand, Iverson is having the best game of his career. The Answer does not hold back in mistreating the Hornets, scoring 55 points on a stellar 21-32 field goal shooting performance.
Coach Silas' men's defense efforts were ineffective, alternating three defenders on Philly's # 3, which was strangely never doubled, resulting in a relatively easy path to history. The 76ers won the series in six games, with Iverson scoring 45 points in Race-6 to ensure he didn't miss anything.
5. Wilt Chamberlain, 1962 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Syracuse Nationals - 56 points
Amid the Boston Celtics' basketball dominance in 1962, a man tried everything to stop the Massachusetts battleship. Wilt Chamberlain, the 100-point scorer. As if that wasn't enough, Wilt ended the series against the Syracuse Nationals with one of his most dominant performances ever, scoring 56 points and grabbing 35 rebounds, just weeks after recording the best scoring game ever.
Wilt guaranteed victory for his Warriors, but they lost in the Conference Finals to the Celtics. For nearly 25 years, however, no one will score at least 56 points in a Playoff game.
4. Charles Barkley, 1994 Western Conference Round 1 vs. Golden State Warriors - 56 points
To impress a coach of Don Nelson's caliber, you have to go above and beyond. No problem for Charles Barkley, who scored 56 points in Game 3 of the 1994 series against the Warriors, coached by Nelson. A fantastic offensive showing: 23-31 from the field, 7-9 from the line, and 14 rebounds to go around.
Barkley set an NBA record with 38 points in the first half, 27 of which came in the first quarter. He approached Nelson after scoring the first 12 points for his Suns and asked if he was going to double down on him. The Warriors didn't, and Barkley took full advantage of the situation.
3. Donovan Mitchell, 2020 Western Conference Round 1 vs. Denver Nuggets - 57 points
And here is the newest addition to this list, who, at the tender age of 24, placed himself directly on the bottom step of the podium with a score of 57 points last night. When you combine 57.6% shooting from the field, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists, you have a record-setting night for the NBA.
However, as has been the case with many of the players on this list, he wasn't enough to beat the rival team. Mitchell had to capitulate at the end of extra time under the blows of the Denver Nuggets after keeping his team on their feet for the entire game.
Regardless, it will be a difficult night to forget for Mitchell and Jazz fans: after all, the number 45 has scored nearly half of his franchise's points (57).
2. Elgin Baylor, 1962 NBA Finals vs. Boston Celtics - 61 points
Elgin Baylor was one of the greatest players of the 1960s: it's difficult to make a name for yourself in a league dominated by Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, but Baylor did it, becoming a pillar of the Lakers for 14 years. Baylor is known for several things, one of which is one of the best NBA Finals performances ever.
The number 22 of the Lakers scored 61 points and grabbed 22 rebounds in game 5 against the Celtics in 1962. Not to mention Bill Russell, perhaps the best defender ever, and Tom Sanders, another defensive stalwart, who both played for the Celtics. On that particular occasion, however, Baylor outperformed them all.
Despite the game-5 victory, the Lakers were unable to win the series and the championship. Baylor's 61 points, on the other hand, remain the all-time high for points scored in a Finals game; only the Finals, because someone has surpassed Elgin's 61 in the Playoffs in general.
1. Michael Jordan, 1986 Eastern Conference Round 1 vs. Boston Celtics - 63 points
In his second season, how does a player become an indelible part of the NBA? Michael Jordan set the record for most points scored in a Playoff game in 1986. The young star found himself in front of the battleship Celtics, led by Larry Bird himself, after an extremely troubled season in the first round. Although his Bulls were underdogs, Michael did everything he could to beat Bird and his teammates, including scoring 63 points in Game 2.
Those Celtics, on the other hand, were undefeated by such a performance, winning the series and then the championship. Jordan's exploits left an indelible impression, and during the post-race-2 interview, Bird uttered one of the phrases that is still associated with the MJ legend today.
Special Mention: LeBron James, 2018 NBA Finals vs. Warriors - 51 points
Without two special honorable mentions, this list would be incomplete. Two players who have shaped the NBA's recent history, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, do not appear in the top ten. Both received 51 points, which is a significant amount of points, and they deserve at the very least our honorable mention.
Despite a difficult season, LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their fourth consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals in 2018. The odds were stacked in favor of the Warriors, who won the championship in just four games. To have a chance, the Cavs put their faith in James, who finished the game with 51 points.
After Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, and Bob Pettit, The King became only the sixth player in Finals history to score at least 50 points. The game's outcome, however, was not as expected. If it hadn't been for JR Smith's infamous blunder, the Cavaliers coming within a whisker of going to overtime still haunts Cleveland fans' minds.