Michael Jordan‘s 63 points performance against the Celtics in 1986 Playoffs to this day is the most points a player has scored in a single post-season game. It was the record previously held by Elgin Baylor, who dropped 61 in 1962. Isaiah Thomas is an active player who got closest to breaking it with his 53 points performance in 2017, but MJ remained on top of the list.
The closest Michael got to breaking his record was in 1992 vs. the Heat, when he scored 56 to propel the Bulls into the second round. Jordan also scored 55 three times over his post-season campaigns, and one of those memorable nights happened on June 16, 1993, in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
Coming off a Game 3 when he missed 9 of his 27 shots in a triple OT defeat, it was on MJ to shift the series back into the Bulls’ favor. Michael converted a three-point play with 4:07 to go, and 50 lit up in the column ‘points.’ Jordan made it a six-point game, and after B.J. Armstrong hit a baseline jumper with 3:30 left on the clock, the game seemed over.
However, the Suns went on the run of their own, making it a two-point game with a minute left. After Pippen‘s turnover, the Suns called a timeout and ran a play to tie the game. However, Kevin Johnson‘s turnover crushed their dreams of completing a comeback.
Jordan went the other way, hit an awkward runner plus the foul, and sealed the game from the charity stripe. He completed a redemption game after the loss in game 3 when he did drop 44, but it wasn’t in your typical efficient Jordan fashion fans were used to. Instead of forcing his way to a big performance, MJ let the game come to him, carrying a team on his back.
“I kind of fell into it. I didn’t sense I was taking over the ballgame. I was just penetrating, getting easy baskets. I felt I was able to capitalize on the defense. The next thing I knew, I was into a rhythm and more or less carrying the team. Many times in a big game, I try to do too much, get involved in too much hype, get out of my rhythm. This time, I tried to carry the load for the team, go to the basket more. When we needed a big basket, I scored a big basket. That’s my role for this team. Whatever it takes to get us over the hump.”Michael Jordan, LA Times
Jordan finished the game with 55, going 21-for-37 from the floor, converting 13 of his 18 attempts from the free-throw line. He dished out four assists and grabbed eight rebounds in the process, but most importantly, he once again delivered when it mattered the most. The Bulls went on to win the series vs. the Suns, completing their first three-peat, sending MJ to his early retirement.
Jordan’s 55 points display remains the fourth-best single-game playoff scoring performance, something he was able to do two more times over his career. His 63, however, remained untouched.