The 2021 NBA Playoffs are finally here, kicking off with the new Play-In Tournament on May 18.
This new playoff format leaves the door wide open, and the possibilities are endless. The most anticipated play-in battle is between scoring champ Steph Curry's Warriors and LeBron James' Lakers for the No. 7 seed out west.
NBA players historically have gone all out when their team’s season is on the line. As we enter this year’s postseason, here are some of the current playoff records held around the league and on the Portland Trail Blazers.
Who has scored the most points in a single NBA playoff game?
On April 20, 1986, Michael Jordan scored 63 points for the Chicago Bulls during a playoff game versus the Celtics. In an eventual loss for the Bulls, 23-year-old Jordan put up a monster Game 2 against Larry Bird and Co. to etch his name in the history books. Jordan’s record-breaking scoring came in double overtime, though -- in regulation, Elgin Baylor scored 61 points for the Los Angeles Lakers on April 14, 1962.
Damian Lillard scored the most points in a Portland Blazers playoff match during his infamous “wave” game, when he put up 50 points -- including a buzzer-beater 3 -- on April 23, 2019 to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Which player holds the NBA record for most rebounds in one playoff game?
Wilt Chamberlain tallied 41 rebounds in one playoff game during his performance for the Philadelphia Sixers against the Celtics on April 5, 1967. The Sixers went on to win the NBA Finals that season -- defeating Chamberlain’s former team, the Warriors, 4-2. Chamberlain still holds the NBA record for most career rebounds with 23,924.
In Blazers playoff history, Bill Walton holds the record for most rebounds in a single game. On June 3, 1977, Walton tallied 24 total rebounds in a win over the Philadelphia Sixers.
Who holds the NBA playoff record for most assists in a single game?
There is a tie between Magic Johnson and John Stockton for most assists in a single NBA playoff game. On May 15, 1984, Johnson tallied 24 assists for the Lakers against the Phoenix Suns. Stockton did the same on May 17, 1988 for the Utah Jazz in a game against the Lakers, giving Johnson a taste of his own medicine.
The Blazers’ record for most assists in a playoff game is 15, and four players have done it in franchise history. Darnell Valentine was the first in 1983, Terry Porter followed in 1987, then Clyde Drexler in 1991, and finally Rod Strickland tallied 15 assists in the 1994 postseason.
Who holds the NBA playoff record for most field goals in a single game?
On May 1, 1988, Jordan set another NBA playoff record for most field goals in a single game. Jordan shot 24-for-45, finishing the Bulls’ Game 2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers with 55 points. It was in this historic match that Jordan also became the first player to score 50+ points in consecutive playoff games after putting up 50 points in Game 1.
LaMarcus Aldridge set the Blazers’ postseason record on April 23, 2014 when he went 18-for-28 and ended Portland’s Game 2 win over the Houston Rockets with 43 points. Alridge was also dominant in Game 1 of that series, finishing with 46 points on 17-for-31 shooting.
Which player has made the most 3-pointers in one NBA playoff game?
Klay Thompson holds the NBA record for most 3s in a playoff game. On May 28, 2016, Thompson made 11 3-pointers for the Warriors to force a Western Conference Finals Game 7 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Though he won’t be able to participate in this year’s postseason, his teammate Steph Curry has over 300 3-pointers on the season (again), and would be just the person to break Thompson’s single-game record.
The Blazers’ playoff record belongs to Lillard. During the same infamous 2019 game where he scored 50 against the Thunder, Lillard netted 10 3-pointers to add another Portland record to the books.
Who has made the most free throws during a single NBA playoff game?
Before the Blazers’ epic Game 3 victory over the Denver Nuggets in 2019, the last NBA playoff game to go to quadruple overtime was back in 1953. On March 21, the Celtics took four overtimes to defeat the Syracuse Nationals 111-105 in Game 2 of the Eastern Division Semifinals. It was during this intense match -- which set a record for the most personal fouls in a playoff game with 106 -- that Bob Cousy set the NBA record for most free throws made in a single playoff game. Cousy’s 30-for-32 performance from the line helped him accumulate 50 points in the Celtics’ win.
Arvydas Sabonis set the Blazers’ playoff record on April 25, 1996 when he went 16-for-20 against the Utah Jazz.
Who holds the NBA record for most blocks in a playoff game?
The league record for most blocks in a single playoff game is tied between three players. Mark Eaton first tallied 10 blocks for the Utah Jazz against the Houston Rockets on April 26, 1985. Then, Hakeem Olajuwon blocked 10 shots for the Rockets against the Lakers on April 29, 1990. Most recently, Andrew Bynum finished a playoff game with 10 blocks for the Lakers against the Nuggets on April 29, 2012.
Walton has also made the most blocks in Blazers playoff history. On June 5, 1977, Walton blocked 8 shots in a close game against the Sixers to win the NBA Finals. Walton was named Finals MVP after averaging 18.5 points, 19.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.7 blocks per game during the six-game series.
Which player holds the NBA playoff record for most steals in one game?
On May 13, 1999, Iverson became the first and only player to ever record 10 steals in a playoff game. Iverson stole the ball 10 times from the Orlando Magic, and ended his magnificent performance with 33 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for the Sixers.
Lionel Hollins holds the Blazers’ playoff record for most steals in one game. He recorded 8 steals on May 8, 1977 against the Lakers.
Who has played the most minutes in a single NBA playoff game?
Red Rocha and Paul Seymour are tied for the most minutes played in a single NBA playoff game. During the infamous March 21, 1953 quadruple overtime game against the Boston Celtics, Rocha and Seymour each played 67 minutes for the Syracuse Nationals. In that same game, Cousy cemented himself at No. 2 on the list by playing 66 minutes for the Celtics. It wasn’t until decades later -- during 2019’s 4OT Blazers-Nuggets playoff match -- that another player came close, with Nikola Jokic clocking 65 minutes.
During the same game when Jokic climbed the list, CJ McCollum set the Blazers’ franchise record for most minutes played in a single playoff game with 60.
James Best and Kelley Ekert contributed to this story.