Regular season performances are obviously important, but few remember them. Instead, it’s the performances in the NBA Playoffs that stick out the most when looking back in history. Michael Jordan Game 6. Only four words are needed for many basketball enthusiasts to recognize greatness.
We haven’t seen any games like Jordan’s Finals against the Utah Jazz in 1998 this postseason. Chances are, no one will come close to approaching what Jordan accomplished. There’s a reason he’s one of the GOATs.
But we’d be remiss if we didn’t look back at some of the best NBA Playoffs performances of this postseason so far, and there have been plenty.
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LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers – Game 4 vs. MEM
- LeBron James’ stat line from Game 4: 22 PTS, 20 REB, 7 AST, 2 BLK
Despite being one of the oldest players in basketball at the age of 38, LeBron James didn’t look like he needed a break in Game 4 of his playoff matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies. He wound up playing a team-high 45 minutes in the OT thriller.
But we were more impressed with hauling in 20 rebounds, as he became the oldest player in NBA playoff history with 20+ points and 20 rebounds in a game. James finished with a ridiculous defensive rebound rate of 31.8%. Amazingly, the Lakers only won the rebounding battle by three. Now imagine if LBJ didn’t go off?
Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers – Game 1 vs. GS
- Anthony Davis’s stat line from Game 1: 30 PTS, 23 REB, 5 AST, 4 BLK
Playing in the spotlight of LA, Davis catches a lot of flak. Sometimes it’s durability, with Davis experiencing far more injuries than fans would like to see from the superstar big. But other times, it’s inconsistency.
Well, Davis answered the call in the series-opening victory over the defending champions. After LBJ hauled in 20 rebounds while scoring 22 points against Memphis, Davis said, “Hold my beer.”
Not only did The Brow manage to score a game-high 30 points, he also tied Kevon Looney for the game-high in rebounds. He even added four blocks for good measure in a game the Lakers won by just five points. There’s no way they would have won without Davis’s gem.
Related: Golden State Warriors fail to solve Anthony Davis size problem in Game 1 loss to Los Angeles Lakers
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns – Game 5 vs. LAC
- Devin Booker’s stat line from Game 5: 47 PTS, 10 AST, 8 REB, 2 STL, 70% FG, 57% 3PT
There isn’t a player performing better than Devin Booker in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. The Phoenix Suns superstar is blossoming in front of our eyes, scoring 30 or more in seven games to this point.
His effort in a series-clinching Game 5 against Clippers may be one of the best. Scoring 47 points is undoubtedly impressive, but come on, shooting 70% from the floor and 57% from distance? That’s just unfair. The Clippers never had a chance once Booker started letting it fly.
Related: Devin Booker breaks Phoenix Suns’ playoff record, team advances to take on Nuggets
James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers – Game 4 vs. BOS
- James Harden’s stat line from Game 4: 42 PTS, 9 AST, 8 REB, 4 STL, 1 BLK, 69% FG, 66% 3PT
Just when we thought Harden might be slowing down again, he always seems to provide a reminder of how impactful he can be. Harden remains one of the best scoring/distributing guards in basketball.
His effort in Game 4 against Boston goes down as one of the best NBA Playoffs performances in 2023. Joel Embiid may have won MVP during the regular season, but Harden is showing why the 76ers are a threat to challenge for the NBA title too.
Related: James Harden turns back the clock in thrilling Philadelphia 76ers’ win over Celtics
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets – WCF Game 1 vs. LAL
- Nikola Jokic’s stat line from Game 1: 34 PTS, 21 REB, 14 AST, 2 BLK, 70% FG
Even though Nikola Jokic lit up the scoreboard with 53 points against the Phoenix Suns in a Game 4 loss, we’re more impressed with what the two-time MVP did in the Western Conference Finals series opener against the Lakers.
Jokic’s monster performance earned him a place in the record books, where the Nuggets superstar became the first player in postseason history to have a 30-point triple-double while shooting 70% in back-to-back games. He even sank all three attempts from distance on a night when Denver defeated L.A. by just six points.
Related: 10 best centers in the NBA: Joel Embiid overtakes Nikola Jokic in battle for best big man in basketball
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns – Game 3 vs. DEN
- Devin Booker’s stat line from Game 3: 47 PTS, 9 AST, 6 REB, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 80% FG, 62% 3PT
Two 47-point efforts from Booker? Yeah, we’re stunned too. As mentioned, Booker’s been the MVP of the NBA Playoffs thus far. But it’s not even just his ultra-efficient scoring, he’s been doing it all, even contributing on the defensive end and getting involved on the glass in the rebounding department.
Booker seemingly can’t be stopped right now. Yet, it’s not like opponents can afford to double-team Booker, with Durant or even players like Landry Shamet going off at times. Whether he’s open or not, Booker has been making opponents pay.
Related: NBA playoff predictions: Bracket picks & 2023 Finals champion
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors – Game 7 vs. Sacramento
- Stephen Curry’s stat line from legendary Game 7: 50 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL
Of course Curry’s 50 burger cracks the list. Some called it the greatest NBA Playoffs Game 7 performance of all time, but that was before Jayson Tatum went off in the Semifinals. Either way, when the game and series were on the line in the battle of California, Curry kept on shooting, and they kept going in.
In scoring 50, Curry became the first player in NBA history to hit the half-century mark in a Game 7. Amazingly, Curry needed just under 38 minutes to accomplish this feat. Curry’s had an incredible Hall of Fame career, but he’s never scored more than 50 in a playoff game, which makes this one all the more impressive.
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Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat – Game 4 vs. Milwaukee
- Jimmy Butler’s stat line from Game 4: 56 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST, 1 BLK, 67% FG
As great as Jimmy Buckets is, he’s not a player who ever vies for the NBA scoring title. He’s never averaged more than 23.9 points per game. Yet, once he got to Game 4 against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, Butler wouldn’t take no for an answer.
He’d score a career-high 56 points, topping his previous mark of 53, which was set back in 2016 during the regular season. You can’t tell me Butler wasn’t highly motivated, helping pace his team to victory on both ends of the court, as usual, but his effort offensively was easily one of the best we’ve seen in the NBA Playoffs so far this season.
Related: Jimmy Butler’s heroics lead Miami Heat past Milwaukee Bucks to historic upset
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics – Game 7 vs. PHI
Facing elimination going toe-to-toe with Joel Embiid, Tatum put forth what may be his best game in the NBA yet. He scored 45% of his team’s points, and when comparing Tatum’s 51 to his opponent’s 88, the Boston superstar’s effort only looks more impressive.
Butler may have scored more points, but Tatum’s performance came in Game 7. Plus, it’s not like Tatum only contributed in the scoring column either, he was also the Celtics’ leading rebounder. We don’t know what it is about Game 7’s in 2023, but Tatum’s 51 points broke Curry’s NBA record set just a few weeks earlier. We can’t imagine anyone topping this performance.
Related: Jayson Tatum’s record-breaking performance outshines NBA MVP Joel Embiid in Game 7 of Celtics-76ers