With the NBA playoffs starting this weekend, I thought I would count down my Top 10 Playoff, single game performances since 2000.
The criteria I based my decisions on included; statistics for the game, stage of playoffs, age of the player, outcome of the game, where the game was played, significance of the game, the amount of passion surrounding the game, and strength of the opposition.
Today I will show you who claimed positions 10, 9 and 8.
Dirk Nowitzki vs. Phoenix Suns, Game 5, Western Conference Finals 2006.
Stats: 43:29 Min, 50 Pts, 14/26 FGs, 5/6 3FGs, 17/18 FTs, 12 Rebs, 3 Asts, 1 Stls.
Dallas won the series 4-2.
I bet Tim Thomas regrets blowing that kiss at Dirk. After Thomas and Nowitzki both received technical fouls for an altercation early in the game, Dirk turned it on and completely destroyed Thomas and the Suns.
Dirk set a franchise record by scoring 50 points in a playoff game (22 in the final quarter). Nowitzki wasn’t himself coming into the game, having only scored 11 points (3/13 FGs) in the previous meeting. The series was 2-2 heading into Game 5, which means a loss would have seen the Mavericks trailing 3-2, with the pressure of having to win Game 6 in Phoenix to take it back to Dallas for a Game 7.
Dallas made it to the Finals, however lost 4-2 to the Miami Heat; even with a 2-0 lead heading into Game 3.
Allen Iverson vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Game 1, NBA Finals 2001.
Stats: 52 Mins, 48 Pts, 18/41 FGs, 3/8 3FGs, 9/9 FTs, 5 Rebs, 6 Asts, 5 Stls.
Lakers won the series 4-1.
I had to squeeze this one in.
This is no doubt Iverson’s best ever NBA game. What AI did in Game 1 was truly remarkable. Iverson’s game earned a higher ranking than Dirk’s because of who and where they were playing. Plus it was Game 1 of a Finals series.
Coming into the regular season the 76ers were thought of as the 5th or 6th best team in the Eastern Conference. Yet, after a quick 10-0 start, people started taking notice. After winning the MVP award during the regular season, Iverson and his team of roll players made an unpredictable run to the Finals.
Considering the Lakers had 16/17 wins in the Playoffs that postseason, they were massive favourites heading into the series. Iverson and the 76ers were on the road, against Phil Jackson, a Shaquille O’Neal in his prime (averaged 30.5 points and 15.4 rebounds in the postseason), and Kobe Bryant who was quickly establishing himself as a superstar (averaged 28.5 points, 5.0 assists, and 5.9 rebounds in the postseason).
Iverson went off for 30 points in the first half and 7 in overtime. We all remember that step back, 20-foot jumper he nailed late in overtime; plus the ensuing famous step over on fallen defender Tyronn Lue.
Rajon Rondo vs. Miami Heat, Game 2, Eastern Conference Finals 2012.
Stats: 53 Mins, 44 Pts, 16/24 FGs, 2/2 3FGs, 10/12 FTs, 8 Rebs, 10 Asts, 3 Stls.
Miami won the series 4-3.
Do I need to say more? Look at Rondo’s statistics!!! There was no stopping Rondo, he was on mission. The young guard, who has been criticised for his jumper, was hitting everything.
What impresses me is the fact that Boston were on the road and down 1-0 already in the series, but mostly that Rondo was firing from the start to finish. Not like Iverson or Dirk (above), who both went cold at certain periods during their games.
While the Miami defenders were happy disrespecting Rondo by giving him more than enough room to shoot, he put on an absolute clinic. Displaying an array of offensive maneuvers; mid-range jumpers, outside shots, layups, floating runners, you name it.
The reason Rondo only made it at number 9 was because the Celtics lost the game.
Shaquille O’Neal vs. Indiana Pacers, Game 2, NBA Finals 2000.
Stats: 46 Mins, 40 Pts, 11/18 FGs, 18/39 FTs, 24 Rebs, 3 Asts, 3 Blks.
Lakers won the series 4-2.
Early in the second quarter, Jalen Rose stuck his foot out intentionally as Kobe went for a jump shot. Bryant would land on Rose’s foot and sprain his ankle, he not return for the rest of the game. Shaq took on the extra workload and destroyed the Pacers.
Shaq was colossal, he was running the floor, setting heavy screens, and causing havoc on the offensive and defensive end. Shaq was dominating so much; it properly looked like the Pacers were a high school team trying to beat an angry giant.
Larry Bird singled out the big man and resorted to the “Hack-a-Shaw” tactic; Shaq wasn’t renowned for his free throw shooting. However, even though Shaq went for an NBA record 39 free throw attempts, he still managed to knock 18 down. What was even more impressive is that he made 9/14 free throws in the last quarter to keep the Lakers in front.
O’Neal was head and shoulders above everyone on the court that night; he was the commanding factor in the game.
Check back in tomorrow for numbers 7, 6 and 5!