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Each NBA team’s highest-scoring playoff game

Jarrett Hoffman

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There is nothing more exciting among NBA fans than the NBA Playoffs. It is a place where players become stars, stars become legends, where teams become champions and champions become dynasties.

Traditionally, scoring in the playoffs comes much harder in the regular season as the defense intensifies and teams make adjustments on both sides of the ball.

However, through the years, each NBA team has had countless examples of offensive excellence in the playoffs. Here we will break down the best offensive performance each team has had in the postseason.

Here is each NBA team’s highest-scoring playoff game.

Stats courtesy Basketball Reference

Atlanta Hawks: 145 – Game 4, 1958 Western Division Finals vs. Detroit Pistons

This game not only saw the Hawks set a franchise record for points in a playoff game, but this also set a team record for the largest margin of victory in a playoff game defeating the Pistons 145-101. The Hawks scored 30 points or more in each quarter including two 40-point quarter in the first and fourth respectively. They shot an efficient 56% from the field compared to the Pistons’ 31%. Seven players scored in double figures for the Hawks led by Cliff Hagan scoring 28 points. The Hawks went on to win their first (and to date only) NBA championship defeating the Boston Celtics in seven games in the NBA Finals.

Boston Celtics: 157 – Game 2, 1990 Eastern Conference First Round vs. New York Knicks

In 1990, the Celtics were well past their days of being a yearly championship contender like they were in the 1980s. However, with one era coming to an end, they looked to begin a new era led by rising star Reggie Lewis. It was in game 2 of the first round against the Knicks that both eras came together beating the Knicks 157-128 taking a 2-0 lead in the series. Their 157 points is an NBA playoff record. Eight players scored in double figures for the Celtics including Kevin McHale scoring 31 points followed by Reggie Lewis with 21 points.

Brooklyn Nets: 134 – Game 4, 2013 Eastern Conference First Round vs. Chicago Bulls

This is one of the few games in which a team set their franchise playoff points record in a game they lost. This is also a game that saw the Chicago Bulls set a franchise playoff scoring record (spoiler alert) beating the Nets 142-134 in a triple overtime thriller. Six players scored in double figures for the Nets including three players scoring 20 points or more. The entire starting five scored in double figures with Deron Williams leading the team scoring 32 points. Brook Lopez scored 26 points while Joe Johnson scored 22.

Charlotte Hornets: 119 – Game 3, 1993 Eastern Conference First Round vs. Boston Celtics

Charlotte set its highest-scoring playoff game record in its first trip to the NBA Playoffs. This was also the first playoff series for the Boston Celtics without Larry Bird and their last with Kevin McHale. In this game, the Hornets defeated the Celtics 119-89 taking a 2-1 lead in the series. Larry Johnson scored 29 points in the game while Dell Curry came off the bench to score 27 points. Both men shot 70% from the field in the game. The Hornets would win the next game closing out the series following an iconic Alonzo Mourning game-winner.

Read More: NBA all-time scoring champions for every team

Chicago Bulls: 142 – Game 4, 2013 Eastern Conference First Round vs. Brooklyn Nets

As previously mentioned, the Chicago Bulls beat the Brooklyn Nets 142-134 taking a 3-1 lead in the series. Going into the fourth quarter, the Bulls found themselves down eight points and trailed by 13 points with less than four minutes remaining in the game. Nate Robinson came off the bench, powering his team with 23 fourth-quarter points including 12 in the last three minutes of the period. Robinson finished the game with 34 points and was one of seven players to score in double figures. The Bulls went on to win the series in seven games but were eliminated in the next round by the Miami Heat in five games.

Cleveland Cavaliers: 137 – Game 4, 2017 NBA Finals vs. Golden State Warriors

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Down 3-0 in the 2017 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers needed a spectacular performance in Game 4 to keep their hopes of repeating as champions alive. They would do that and then some beating the Warriors 137-115 the sixth-most points scored by a team in an NBA Finals game. They also made an NBA Finals record 24 3-pointers in the game. The Cavs started off hot, scoring 86 points in the first half with Kyrie Irving and LeBron combining for 50 points in the half on 72% shooting. The Cavaliers were unable to replicate this performance in Game 5, losing the series.

Dallas Mavericks: 151 – Game 1, 1987 Western Conference First Round vs. Seattle Supersonics

Before Dirk Nowitzki came through and changed the course of the Dallas Mavericks franchise, it was Rolando Blackman and Mark Aguirre leading the 1987 team to their then-best season at 55-27 clinching the No. 2 seed in the West. They opened the playoffs in dominant fashion beating the Sonics 151-127. An astonishing nine players scored in double figures led by Mark Aguirre scoring 28 points and Roy Tarpley coming off the bench to score 25 points. This would be the Mavericks only win in the series, however, losing the next three games and the series.

Denver Nuggets: 141 – Game 1, 1985 Western Conference First Round vs. San Antonio Spurs

While the Los Angeles Lakers were the most dominant team in the 1980s, the Nuggets were the most dominant scoring team. They ranked in the top 10 in scoring each season and led the NBA in scoring six times in the decade. Their best playoff run in the decade came in 1985 when they advanced to the Western Conference Finals. That playoff run started with a bang scoring a franchise playoff record in their opening playoff game beating the Spurs 141-111. Alex English led all scorers with 33 points followed by Calvin Natt with 25 points. Their playoff journey ended in the Western Conference Finals losing in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Detroit Pistons: 145 – Game 4, 1987 Eastern Conference Finals vs. Boston Celtics

While the Bad Boy Pistons were more known for their aggressive defense than their scoring, they were able to show their offensive greatness in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 1987. There they beat the Boston Celtics 145-119 tying the series up 2-2. Four different players scored 20 points or more and six players scored in double figures. As a team, they shot 63% from the field. The Pistons would lose the series losing the next two games, but would bounce back in a major way making the next three NBA Finals winning two championships.

Golden State Warriors: 143 – Game 2, 1967 Western Division Finals vs. St. Louis Hawks

Despite having arguably the most dominant offense for a four-year stretch, it has been over 50 years since the Warriors’ highest-scoring playoff game. In this performance, they beat the St. Louis Hawks 143-136 and took a 2-0 lead. Rick Barry led all scorers with 47 points one of six players to score in double figures for the team. The Warriors would win the series in six games advancing to the NBA Finals where they would fall to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Houston Rockets: 141 – Game 3, 1980 Eastern Conference First Round vs. San Antonio Spurs

The Houston Rockets playoff scoring record occurred in 1980 a rare time when the Rockets were in the Eastern Conference. In a series-clinching Game 3 matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, the Rockets went on to win 141-120. Both Moses Malone and Calvin Murphy scored 37 and 33 points for the Rockets respectively. Unfortunately, the Rockets would be swept in the next round by the Boston Celtics, but would bounce back the next season by making their first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history.

Indiana Pacers: 130 – Game 2, 1991 Eastern Conference First Round vs. Boston Celtics

This game is notable for being the first playoff win for the Pacers in the Reggie Miller era as they defeated the Celtics 130-118 to even the series 1-1. Chuck Person finished with 39 points hitting a then NBA playoff record seven 3-pointers. Seven of the Pacers’ nine players in the game scored in double figures with Micheal Williams scoring 24 points and Reggie Miller with 15 points. It was the Celtics, however, that won the series in five games.

Los Angeles Clippers: 154 – Game 5, 2020 Western Conference First Round vs. Dallas Mavericks

highest-scoring playoff game
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The first team on this list that set their playoff scoring record in the bubble, the Clippers dominated the Mavericks in a 154-111 victory. Both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George scored 35 and 32 points respectively shooting over 60% from the field. As a team, the Clippers set a franchise record in the playoffs with 22 3-pointers. While the Clippers would win the series closing it out in the next game, their playoff journey would end disastrous in the next round losing to the Nuggets in the next round losing in seven games after blowing a 3-1 lead.

Los Angeles Lakers: 153 – Game 5, 1985 Western Conference Finals vs. Denver Nuggets

No team has averaged more points in a single postseason than the 1985 Los Angeles Lakers. Los Angeles had its highest-scoring playoff game to close the WCF, knocking out the Denver Nuggets 153-109. Seven players scored in double figures for the Lakers, despite no one playing more than 30 minutes. James Worthy led all scorers with 25 points, while Magic Johnson directed the chaos recording 19 assists while also contributing 17 points. The Lakers would go on to win their third of five championships in the 1980s.

Memphis Grizzlies: 123 – Game 4, 2011 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

In the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs, the Grizzlies became just the second No. 8 seed to defeat the top seed in a seven-game series. They went on to face the young up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round. In Game 4, Memphis achieved its highest-scoring playoff game. However, it wasn’t enough to stop the Thunder in 133-23 result in triple overtime. Zach Randolph led the team with 34 points followed by Marc Gasol who scored 26 points. Despite the Grizzlies fighting valiantly in the series, the Thunder were able to dispatch them in seven games.

Miami Heat: 125 – Game 6, 2020 Eastern Conference Finals vs. Boston Celtics

The Miami Heat shocked the world in last year’s playoffs advancing to the NBA Finals becoming the first fifth seed to ever do so. It was in the game that clinched their spot in the Finals that the Heat set the record beating the Boston Celtics 125-113. With the game tied 100-100 with six minutes remaining, the Heat ended the game on a 25-13 run including a three-minute stretch scoring 13 unanswered points. Six of the eight players that played in the game for the Heat scored in double figures with Bam Adebayo leading all scorers with 32 points. The Heat would go on to lose in the NBA Finals in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Milwaukee Bucks: 156 – Game 3, 1970 Eastern Division Semifinals vs. Philadelphia 76ers

In just their second NBA season as a franchise, the Milwaukee Bucks were already title contenders thanks to their 1969 first overall draft pick Lew Alcindor a.k.a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He took the league by storm with one of the greatest rookie seasons the NBA had ever seen. He averaged 28.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists and helped the Bucks go from a 27-55 record the previous season to a 56-26 record. Their success continued in the playoffs winning their opening playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Their best outing came in Game 3 when they beat the Sixers 156-120. They dominated from the opening whistle outscoring them 40-14 in the first quarter and continued the onslaught as the game went on. While they would be eliminated in the next round they came back the following season with a vengeance winning their first NBA championship.

Minnesota Timberwolves: 121 – Game 3, 2018 Western Conference First Round vs. Houston Rockets

The Minnesota Timberwolves have fallen on hard times since Kevin Garnett left the team in 2007. They have only registered one playoff appearance since 2004 and have finished a season with 20 or less wins four times. It was in their lone playoff run in that time that they set a franchise scoring record beating the Houston Rockets 121-105. Jimmy Butler led the team with 28 points followed by Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins who scored 23 and 20 points respectively. The T-Wolves would lose the next two games losing the series in five games.

Related: NBA mock draft – Top prospects, top landing spots

New Orleans Pelicans: 131 – Game 4, 2018 Western Conference First Round vs. Portland Trail Blazers

In the 2018 NBA Playoffs, the New Orleans Pelicans shocked the world, sweeping the No. 3 seed Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. The game that clinched the series for them saw them come away with a 131-123 win. This was just the second time in franchise history the Pelicans won a playoff series and the first since 2008. Both Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday scored 47 and 41 points respectively with each shooting 65% from the field. The Pelicans would go on to lose in five games to the Golden State Warriors in the next round.

New York Knicks: 135 – Game 4, 1990 Eastern Conference First Round vs. Boston Celtics

In Game 2 of the series against the Boston Celtics, the New York Knicks got torched losing 157-128 with the Celtics setting a franchise playoff scoring record. Two games later, the Knicks returned the favor beating the Celtics 135-108 to force a series deciding Game 5. Patrick Ewing went off scoring 44 points on 75% shooting. Meanwhile, Johnny Newman came off the bench to score 24 points and Gerald Wilkins posted 20 points. The Knicks would win the next game to advance to the next round but were subsequently eliminated by the Detroit Pistons in five games.

Oklahoma City Thunder: 133 (twice) – Game 4 of 2011 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Memphis Grizzlies; 2016 Western Conference Finals Game 3 vs Golden State Warriors

highest scoring playoff game
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder are the only team that have a tie for their franchise playoff scoring record. The first occurrence came in a matchup we mentioned in the Memphis Grizzlies entry that saw the Thunder win 133-123. In that game, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to score 75 points while James Harden chipped in 19 points off the bench.

The other came in the 2016 Western Conference Finals when the Thunder beat the Golden State Warriors 133-105. This time, KD and Westbrook combined for 63 points on a more efficient 59% this time around. They would take a 3-1 lead before famously blowing it losing the series in seven games.

Orlando Magic: 124 – Game 1, 1995 Eastern Conference First Round vs. Boston Celtics

In 1995, the Orlando Magic began to emerge as a true NBA title contender led by their young star duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. They finished the season a then franchise-record 57-25 and the first seed in the Eastern Conference. Their playoff journey began in spectacular fashion beating the Boston Celtics 124-77 in the opening game of the opening round.

Eight players scored in double figures led by Shaq who scored 23 points. They would advance to the NBA Finals where they were swept by the Houston Rockets. This would be the beginning of the end for the Shaq/Penny Orlando Magic as the former went on to join the Los Angeles Lakers following the upcoming season.

Philadelphia 76ers: 145 – Game 2, 2019 Eastern Conference First Round vs. Brooklyn Nets

For years the Philadelphia 76ers told their fans to “Trust the Process” as they went through a grueling rebuild. Years later, their plan finally started to come together when they drafted Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons almost immediately becoming playoff contenders. Following a successful 2018 playoffs that saw them win their first playoff series in six years, they continued to build in the 2019 playoffs. After losing the first game of the opening round, Philly got their revenge in Game 2 trouncing the Brooklyn Nets 145-123.

Leading by just one point at halftime, the Sixers turned up the pressure in the third quarter outscoring the Nets 51-23 cruising to victory. Joel Embiid led the team with 23 points one of six players to score in double figures in the game. This includes Ben Simmons scoring 18 points recording his second career playoff triple-double. They would win the next three games to close out the series but were eliminated in the next round by the Toronto Raptors following a miracle game-winner by Kawhi Leonard.

Phoenix Suns: 151 – Game 4, 1992 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Portland Trail Blazers

In a game that holds the NBA record for highest combine score in playoff history, the Phoenix Suns fell short losing to the Portland Trail Blazers 153-151 in double overtime. Kevin Johnson led the team in scoring with 35 points in the game. Off the bench, Tom Chambers and Dan Majerle combined to score 50 points with the former contributing 29 points and the latter with 21 points.

Portland Trail Blazers: 153 – Game 4, 1992 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Portland Trail Blazers

As mentioned in the previous entry, the Portland Trail Blazers came out on the winning side of the highest scoring playoff game in NBA history. Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter scored 33 and 31 points respectively followed by five other players scoring in double figures. This included Danny Ainge coming off the bench to score 25 points on 64% shooting connecting on four 3-pointers. Now up 3-1 in the series, the Blazers took the win in the next game going on to advance to their third straight Western Conference Finals. They would eventually their second NBA Finals in three years but were again unsuccessful losing to the Chicago Bulls in six games.

Sacramento Kings: 137 – Game 3, 2003 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Dallas Mavericks

The Sacramento Kings have fallen on hard times as a franchise failing to make the playoffs in 15 straight seasons. That was not always the case as they were once one of the top teams in the NBA in the early 2000s. Their best scoring outing came in 2003 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks a game after losing Chris Webber to a knee injury. They were, however, unable to come away with the win losing 141-137 in double overtime. The Kings led by as much as 16 points in the game and were leading 91-82 going into the fourth quarter. The Kings would go on to lose the series in seven games.

San Antonio Spurs: 152 – Game 1, 1983 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Denver Nuggets

Before Tim Duncan or David Robinson joined the Spurs and gave them the blueprint to success, it was George Gervin who served as the franchise cornerstone. In 1983, he led the team to their best single-season record at 53-29 finishing second in the Western Conference back when the top two seeds got a first-round bye in the playoffs. They opened their playoff run beating the Denver Nuggets 152-133. Four players for the Spurs scored 20 points in the game led by Gervin’s 42 points on 77% shooting. The Spurs won the series in five games but were eliminated in the Western Conference by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Toronto Raptors: 150 – Game 4, 2020 Eastern Conference First Round vs. Brooklyn Nets

highest scoring playoff game
Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Following a season in which the Toronto Raptors won their first NBA championship in franchise history, the Raptors were expected to miss the playoffs playing without reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard who left in the offseason. However, they would play above expectations finishing the season 53-19 and the two seed in the Eastern Conference. It was in the series clincher in the first round that the Raptors beat the Nets 150-122. Their top two scorers came off the bench with Norman Powell scoring 29 points on 64% shooting and Serge Ibaka with 27 points on 86% shooting. The Raptors would be eliminated in the next round in seven games by the Boston Celtics.

Utah Jazz: 131 – Game 3, 1985 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Denver Nuggets

Just months before they would draft Karl Malone 13th overall in the 1985 NBA Draft, they were setting their franchise playoff record for points in a game. In this game, they beat the Denver Nuggets 131-123 in what was their lone win in the series. Adrian Dantley led the team with 32 points followed by Darrell Griffith and Rickey Green who scored 24 points each. All three men combined to shoot 61% from the field in the game. As I mentioned, however, this was their only win in the series going on to lose the remaining two games.

Washington Wizards: 131 – Game 3, 1965 Western Divisional Semifinals vs St. Louis Hawks

In 1965, the Washington Wizards (then Baltimore Bullets) played in their first NBA playoffs as a member of the Western Conference. In the third game of their opening playoff series, they secured an emphatic 131-99 victory over the St. Louis Hawks. After a close first half, the Bullets put together a complete second half outscoring the Hawks 77-50. Four different players finished with 20-plus points, led by Walt Bellamy and Don Ohl (23 each). While the Bullets would go on to win the series, they would be eliminated in the next round in six games against the Los Angeles Lakers.