On this date in 1988, Michael Jordan became the first player to score 50 or more points in consecutive playoff games when he torched the Cleveland Cavaliers for 55 points in Chicago’s 106-101 victory in game 2 in the first round of playoffs. On April 28th, Jordan scored 50 points in a 104-93 win for Chicago in game one.
Before the late ’80s, the Cleveland Cavaliers had struggled through much of their nearly 20-year existence. With just four playoff appearances in 17 seasons, Cleveland was ready to support a winning basketball team.
As their new head coach, Lenny Wilkens guided the Cavs to the playoffs in just his second season on the sidelines (1987-88). The roster was deep, talented, and meshed exceptionally well. Six players averaged 10 points or more, led by Daugherty’s 18.7 a game.
For the Chicago Bulls, a 24-year-old Jordan was quickly rising to superstardom. Jordan took his game to the next level that season and he finished the 1987-88 season with 35 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game. Jordan dominated both ends of the floor, asserting himself as the best individual player in the NBA during that period.
When the Bulls played the Cavs in game one, Craig Ehlo was supposed to guard Jordan because of an ankle injury to the more athletic guard Ron Harper. In response, Jordan caught fire and scored 50 points. After being embarrassed in game one, Cleveland switched their strategy and sent Ron Harper to do the dirty work and guard Michael in the first minute of game 2. Harper said there is no way Jordan would be able to score 50 on him.
Jordan finished the game with 55 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals, shooting 53% from the field. One important side note is that he did it without attempting a single 3-pointer.
Despite an impressive lineup that featured Price, Daugherty, Larry Nance, Ron Harper, and John “Hot Rod” Williams, the Cavs were no match for Jordan. As a result, the Bulls ended up taking the opening-round series 3-2 behind Jordan’s whopping 45.2 points a night.