As the playoffs gets closer, lets continue our countdown of the Top 10, single game Playoff performances since 2000.
Dirk Nowitzki vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 1, Western Conference Finals 2011
Stats: 41 Mins, 48 Pts, 12/15 FGs, 0/0 3FGs, 24/24 FTs, 6 Rebs, 4 Asts, 4 Blks.
Mavericks won the series 4-1.
Coming into the series the Mavericks had nine days off, which allowed Dirk and his veteran side to get some rest.
This was truly spectacular, throughout this playoffs Dallas never went into a series as favourites, and Dirk was the main reason for every upset.
Dirk was incredible, he hit 10 of his first 11 shots, 21 points in the first 19 minutes, and set an NBA playoff-record with 24 straight free throws. Like my #9 pick Rondo, Dirk put in a full performance from start to finish. With 1:18 to go Dirk hit a jumper to put Dallas up by 9, then with 19 second left nailed two free throws to seal the game.
Everybody tried to guard Dirk; Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant, Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden; not one of them had an answer.
Dirk’s 48 points was the most by anyone throughout the 2011 playoffs, and 16th highest for a single playoff game since 1985-1986 season. In terms of efficiency, Dirk’s game the most efficient out of all 15 performances above him.
Nowitzki was nearly flawless.
Kobe Bryant vs. Sacramento Kings, Game 4, Western Conference Semifinals, 2001.
Stats: 48 Mins, 48 Pts, 15/29 FGs, 1/1 3FGs, 17/19 FTs, 16 Rebs, 3 Asts, 2 Stls, 1 Blks.
Lakers won the series 4-0.
One of Kobe Bryant’s best ever playoff series, especially in Games 3 and 4. Kobe, who was 22 years old, was completely automatic in Game 4 setting career bests in points and rebounds. He only took one 3-pointer, which he made, and got all of his points by driving to the basket (and free throws).
Bryant dominated the game from the first minute to the last. Kobe opened up in the first quarter by scoring 13 points, and finished out the game with 15 points in the fourth.
The Kings got the score to 108-107 with 1:57 left, however Bryant then hit two free throws, drilled a jumper with 1:21 left, then added three more free throws in the final 35 seconds to close out the game.
Dwyane Wade vs. Dallas Mavericks, Game 3, NBA Finals 2006
Stats: 43:05 Mins, 42 Pts, 14/26 FGs, ½ 3FGs, 13/18 FTs, 13 Rebs, 2 Asts, 2 Stls.
Miami won the series 4-2.
Dwyane Wade, all of 24-years old, singlehandedly led his Miami team in a fierce fourth quarter come back.
Miami were down 2-0 in the series and were down 13 with 6:34 to go in regulation. The daunting fact was that if they lost, they’d have to create history to win the Championship. No team has ever come back and won from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series. With only three teams coming back from 3-0 down (Knicks 1951, Nuggets 1994, Blazers 2003); however none were able to win Game 7. Furthermore, only eight teams in NBA history have fought their way back from a 3-1 deficit and won (Celtics 1968, Lakers 1970, Washington Bullets 1979, Celtics 1981, Rockets 1995, Heat 1997, Pistons 2003, Suns 2006).
Dwyane snuck in above the others because of the mammoth amount of pressure on him and his team before the game, plus the pressure in which the Heat then faced during the game, and finally his overall contribution to nearly every play in the second half.
Wade scored or assisted on 13 of the Heats 19 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Additionally, during the come back in the last 6 minutes, Wade scored 12 of his 42 points, had a crucial rebound off a Dirk missed free throw, and broke the Mavericks alley-oop attempt off the inbound to steal the victory.
HONERABLE MENTION: Must go to Shaquille O’Neal for stepping up nailing those two free throws. Especially as Shaq finished his career with a free throw shooting percentage of 52.7% and is considered one of the worst free throw shooters in NBA history.