When the stakes are the highest, the true competitors show up and they maintain their top tier play for as long as they can. It sure is quite a thrill when we get to witness breathtaking single-game performances but a series-long display is on an absolutely different level. It is always an exhilarating experience to witness epic performances as these make up the stories that would last and eventually become legends. What better stage to hold a classic than the NBA Finals where everyone’s eyes are trained on the whole spectacle and the players give out everything when they can already feel their season-long target within reach. On that note, we came up with a list of the 10 greatest series performances in NBA finals history.
10 – Tim Duncan (2003)
In the 2003 finals, Tim Duncan broke the hearts of back-to-back East Champion New Jersey Nets to win their second crown in team history. The Big Fundamental was The Big Boring to Nets fans but The Big Efficient to the rest. After disposing the exciting Nets in six games, Duncan had series averages of 24.2 points, 17.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.0 steals, and a whopping 5.3 blocks.
The number nine best NBA Finals performance is on the next page!
9 – Dwyane Wade (2006)
The Dallas Mavericks, after winning the first two games, looked poised to dominate the Miami Heat. They even held a comfortable lead in the third quarter of Game Three but all that came to naught when Dwyane Wade woke up and started to take over. Wade led the Heat to four straight wins and ended the series with averages of 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.7 steals, and 1.0 block. His aggressive play resulted in an NBA Finals record for total free throw attempts in the series.
The number eight best NBA Finals performance is on the next page!
8 – Hakeem Olajuwon (1995)
In a classic underdog story, the veteran Houston Rockets relied on the dreamy skills of Hakeem Olajuwon to sweep the heavily favored Orlando Magic who had a young Shaquille O`Neal and a prime Anfernee Hardaway. Olajuwon took the still spry O’Neal to big man camp with a dazzling display of his wide skillset as The Dream, in his best form, averaged 32.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.0 steals, and 2.0 blocks.
The number seven best NBA Finals performance is on the next page!
7 – Shaquille O’Neal (2001)
Going up against one of the best shot blockers ever in Dikembe Mutombo did not faze Shaquille O`Neal one bit. The Los Angeles Lakers` center of attraction was again at his best as he bullied his way to averaging 33.0 points, 15.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 3.4 blocks in five games against the Philadelphia 76ers. It was the Lakers` second straight title on their way to an eventual three peat. O`Neal was both the unstoppable force and immovable object especially in Game One where he scored 44 points and grabbed 20 rebounds and also in Game Two where he was all over the place with 28 points, 20 rebounds, 9 assists, and 8 blocks.
The number six best NBA Finals performance is on the next page!
6 – Michael Jordan (1997)
Michael Jordan was business as usual in the 1997 finals as he averaged 32.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 1.2 steals over the Bulls` six-game rampage over the Jazz. He even delivered one of his trademark game winners in Game One and also displayed a gallant effort in their Game Five win in what others popularly called as the “flu game”. His Airness` Game Five heroics went down as one of the most memorable performances in finals history.
The number five best NBA Finals performance is on the next page!
5 – Magic Johnson (1987)
The 1987 finals saw Magic Johnson in one of his finest collection of finals moments when the Los Angeles Lakers trounced bitter rivals Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in six games. Magic was all over the place, averaging 26.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 13.0 assists, and 2.3 steals. The series also saw him convert on his own iconic version of a sky-hook, taking a page off Kareem`s book, to seal the victory for LA in Game Four.
The number four best NBA Finals performance is on the next page!
4 – Jerry West (1969)
Jerry West owns the distinction of being the only finals MVP from the losing team after the Los Angeles Lakers were upset by the Boston Celtics in seven games back in 1969. Mr. Clutch`s finest was on display in Game Seven, notching a huge triple double with 42 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists, but his efforts were not enough as LA lost a close one to the Celtics. Wes`s series numbers were 37.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 7.4 assists.
The number three best NBA Finals performance is on the next page!
Kenny Honaker ·
3 – Shaquille O’Neal (2000)
When Shaquille O’Neal stepped in his first NBA Finals after his forgettable experience of being swept in the 1995 edition, he made sure that this one will not get away. Unfortunately for the Indiana Pacers, they were in Shaq`s way as the Diesel was simply unstoppable. O`Neal averaged 38.0 points, 16.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals, and 2.7 blocks to give LA its first title in the post-Showtime era. Dig this, in the Lakers` games one and two wins, O`Neals scoring and rebounding output were 43-19 and 40-34 respectively.
The number two best NBA Finals performance is on the next page!
2 – Bill Russell (1962)
The 1962 finals was the birthplace of the fiercest rivalry in NBA history as the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers had their first of numerous finals dates. At the center of it all was the greatest winner the game has seen in Bill Russell. Russell battled fellow Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor but the Celtic great came out on top after seven games via monster numbers of 22.9 points, 27.0 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. His effort produced record breaking rebounding numbers with his 189 series total and 40 in the seventh game.
The number one best NBA Finals performance is on the next page!
1 – Michael Jordan (1993)
Michael Jordan went up against good friend Charles Barkley in the 1993 postseason finale as the Chicago Bulls won their third straight title at the expense of the Phoenix Suns. Jordan also graced us with one night of superb dominance when he willed the Bulls to a Game Four win behind his 55 points. His series numbers were as gaudy as he normed a finals record 41.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.7 steals.