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Top 15 Single-Game NBA Playoff Performances Since 1980

Even though, one player does not make up an entire team, there are specific players who have what it takes to lead their teams to victory in any given situation. Michael Jordan became a household name because of his amazing talent on the basketball court. Of course, he was supported by some extraordinary teammates like Scottie Pippen, BJ Armstrong, Steve Kerr, Paxon and Tony Kukoc. Do you remember Michael Jordan’s spectacular game when he had the flu? He dug deep within to find something amazing that no one else has ever seen in the NBA. While he was playing against L.A, Isaiah Thomas scored 43 points on a sprained ankle. It is not about which one was the best. It is about the extraordinary performances that were made, which changed the game.

Rajon Rondo and Lebron James were undeniably two of the best players the 2012 NBA postseason. Their classic performances will certainly go down in the history books with Rondo having a game of 44-8-10 and James 45-15-5 where he, in fact, saved the Miami Heat’s season. You cannot talk about Lebron and not include Dwyane Wade in the same sentence. Both play so well together coupled with the finesse of Bosh and others. When Miami was on the brink of losing Game 3 in Dallas, Dwyane Wade single-handedly brought the team back and subsequently to another NBA title. Kobe Bryant with Shaquille O’Neal as supporting cast was able to have numerous performances that gave the team confidence. Not every good NBA player is going to make it to the NBA Finals, but there are some who come out as winners even when they don’t. With that being said, there are some top plays that cannot go unnoticed when it comes to playoff performances since 1980. Let’s take a closer look now at some of the best performances in playoff history.

15 Kobe Bryant, Game 4, 2001 Western Conference Semifinals

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14 Charles Barkley, Game 7, 1993 Western Conference Finals

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13 Isiah Thomas, Game 6, 1988 NBA Finals 

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12 Tim Duncan, Game 1, 2003 NBA Finals

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11 Dirk Nowitzki,  Game 1, 2011 Western Conference Finals

AP Photo/Eric Gay

10 Shaquille O'Neal, Game 1, 2000 NBA Finals

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9 LeBron James, Game 6, 2012 Eastern Conference Finals

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8 Hakeem Olajuwon, Game 6, 1987 Western Conference Semifinals

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7 James Worthy, Game 7, 1988 NBA Finals

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6 Magic Johnson, Game 6, 1980 NBA Finals

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5 Dwyane Wade, Game 3, 2006 NBA Finals

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4 LeBron James, Game 1, 2009 Eastern Conference Finals

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3 Michael Jordan, Game 2, 1988 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

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2 Michael Jordan, Game 4, 1993 Eastern Conference Semifinals

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1 Michael Jordan, Game 3, 1992 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

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In Miami's American Airlines Arena, everyone can notice the banner with Michael Jordan’s name. This should be representative of Jordan’s play against the Miami Heat in the 1992 playoffs of the Eastern Conference. Out of 18 free throws, Jordan made 16. Out of 30 field goals, he made 20 of them, ending with 56 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 4 steals. This was Michael Jordan at his best and the Miami Heat showed their respect by putting up the banner in his name.  Who can blame them?

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Top 15 Single-Game NBA Playoff Performances Since 1980