Top 10 playoff performances of 2014

 By Joe Boozell

Michael Jordan against the Jazz. Reggie Miller against the Knicks. Larry Bird against the Lakers. Magic Johnson against the Celtics.

The NBA playoffs are where legacies are formed. And while any true basketball fan enjoys a night of hoops in January, the playoffs are where the NBA lights shine brightest. Last year’s postseason was as entertaining as ever, as five of the eight first-round matchups went to a Game 7.

Those games — and others throughout the playoffs — featured their fair share of heroes.

As such, let’s look back on the 10 best individual performances from the 2014 playoffs.

10. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio spurs
Game 5, NBA Finals – 20 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks


VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard’s all-around play in Game 5 helps clinch the title for the Spurs

It’s almost as if the Spurs are above individual accolades, and by pure numbers alone, there were better postseason performances than Kawhi Leonard‘s Game 5 of The Finals. However, Leonard’s impact goes beyond the box score, as the rangy forward fits perfectly into San Antonio’s offense and happens to be one of the best guys in the league at stopping the best guy in the league, LeBron James. LeBron may have scored 28 points, but he was a team-worst minus -21 for Miami. Meanwhile, Leonard was a plus-23 for San Antonio and logged a team high 39 minutes.

9. Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers
Game 6, first round of the Western Conference playoffs – 25 points, 6 rebounds, 6-10 3FG


VIDEO: Relive Damian Lillard’s game-winning basket against the Rockets

Damian Lillard posted a solid stat line of 25 points and six rebounds in the Blazers’ Game 6 clincher against the Rockets, but that doesn’t begin to tell the whole story. What the whole story would tell you, coincidentally, is that Lillard literally clinched the series for the Rockets with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The shot was the first since 1997 to end a playoff series (John Stockton accomplished the feat then — ironically against Houston, too), and thanks to the clutch factor, Lillard lands on our list.

8. LeBron James, Miami Heat
Game 2, NBA Finals – 35 points, 10 rebounds, 14-22 FG


VIDEO: The Starters discuss LeBron James’ monstrous Game 2 in The Finals

The only thing more painful than a LeBron James cramp is, well, what the opposing team has to endure following a rough night from The King. After his Game 1 cramping episode, James erupted for 35 points and 10 boards in Game 2 of The Finals. This proved to be the only game the Heat would win in the series against the daunting San Antonio Spurs, as the former MVP sunk all three triples he attempted in a 98-96 Miami victory.

7. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Game 7, first round of the Western Conference playoffs - 27 points, 10 rebounds, 16 assists


VIDEO: Russell Westbrook dominates the Grizzlies in Game 7 of the first round

Questions about Russell Westbrook’s ability as a facilitator were silenced momentarily after Game 7 of the Thunder’s first-round series against the Grizzlies. Westbrook’s 16 assists tied a franchise playoff record set during the team’s Seattle days by Nate McMillan in 1987. It was also Westbrook’s second triple-double in a three game span.

6. Paul George, Indiana Pacers
Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals - 39 points, 12 rebounds, 7-10 3FG

 
VIDEO: Paul George runs wild in Game 4 against the Wizards

After bursting onto the scene in the 2013 playoffs, Paul George flashed superstar potential in the 2014 playoffs. This was especially true in Game 4 against the Wizards, who watched George notch 39 points, 12 rebounds and sink seven 3-pointers. George also spent plenty of time guarding Washington speedster John Wall, holding him to a 4-for-11 shooting night. 

5. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals – 39 points, 16 assists, 5 assists


VIDEO: Kevin Durant pours in 39 points in a Game 6 West semifinals win

No, Kevin, YOU are the real MVP. Although Kevin Durant had an up and down postseason, he certainly had moments when he proved why he captured his first MVP award in 2013-14.  Durant was his usual efficient self as he sank more than half of his shot attempts, made all of his free throws  and was 5-for-8 from long range. KD also posted a game-high 16 rebounds to go with his 39 points.

4. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers
Game 2, first round of the Western Conference playoffs – 43 points, 8 rebounds, 18-28 FG


VIDEO: LaMarcus Aldridge dominates the Rockets in Game 2 of the Portland-Houston series

Going into their series against the Rockets, the Blazers were intent on guarding LaMarcus Aldridge with Terrance Jones, not wanting to bring rim-protector Dwight Howard away from the cup. That strategy ultimately sold Aldridge short, who ran rampant the first two games of the series by turning in two consecutive 40-point performances. Aldridge became the first player with consecutive 43-point games in the playoffs since Tracy McGrady did it in April 2003.

3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Game 4 of the Western Conference finals – 40 points, 10 assists, 5 steals

 
VIDEO: Russell Westbrook does something that Michael Jordan last did in 1989

Perhaps he was rejuvenated by the improbable return of Serge Ibaka, or perhaps Russell Westbrook is simply one of the most talented players around. Either way, Westbrook had his way with Tony Parker in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, notching 40 points, 10 assists and five steals. He is the first player to accomplish that since Michael Jordan did it in the 1989 NBA playoffs as the Thunder cruised to a 105-92 win.

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat
Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals – 49 points, 6 rebounds, 16-24 FG

 
VIDEO: LeBron James drops a 49-point effort on the Nets in Game 4 of the East semis

In typical LeBron James fashion, The King added to his already stacked playoff resume with a 49-point effort against the Nets. Unfortunately for Lebron, he missed a meaningless free throw in the waning seconds of Game 4 that left him one point shy of notching his first playoff game of 50-plus points. Barring another return to Miami, this game would go down as the highest scoring effort of James’ playoff career with the Heat. LeBron matched his playoff career-high of 49 points that he set in the 2009 Eastern Conference finals as a Cavalier.

1. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers
Game 1, first round of the Western Conference playoffs – 46 points, 18 rebounds, 17-31 FG


VIDEO: LaMarcus Aldridge pouts in 46 points in Game 1 of the Blazers-Rockets series

Aldridge seemed determined to single-handedly stifle the notion that the mid-range jumper is dead in today’s NBA, terrorizing the Rockets in Game 1 of their first round series with a flurry of long deuces. He went off for a franchise playoff-high 46 points and added 18 rebounds to an already impressive night. It was a career-high for Aldridge, who scored 16 of his 46 points on post ups. That total almost doubled his season average of 8.3 in that department. Despite fouling out in the extra session, the Blazers held on to beat the Rockets in a 122-120 overtime thriller.

39 Comments

  1. Leonard at just #10 is absolutely disgraceful. He should be at least #3, preferably #1.

  2. OC says:

    Come on; you guys, got to get serious on these type or articles;
    10. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio spurs
    you have to be kidding me; Kawhi is the 2nd youngest player (just after Timi D) to get the finals MVP and he did not do it (Performed) only during the finals but through out the whole 2014 NBA playoff against the different teams best players.
    You guys have to show more love to the Spurs (The team whom plays the best team basketball in the world) Period.
    Using Phil Jackson quote: The strength of the team is each individual member; The strength of each member is the team. maybe you would have got a far better article.

  3. William says:

    Spurs CRUSHED the Heat. Destroyed them to the point that the players wanted out.

    2014 Championshop by the Spurs should go down as one of the most impressive and dominant performances by a team in NBA history because they didn’t just crush any team, they crushed LeBron and his superfriends.

    LeBron’s legacy will include being destoyred by the best team performance in NBA history.

  4. blaz says:

    Now I am waiting for more comments on West being so much better than Eastern Conference. If the West is so much better why was that eastern conference team was aiming three-peat this year? The truth is both confs are different and have their own specifics.
    This year Spurs were just so much better than any team out there, and, imo, 2014 Heat and Pacers could win with any other Western team.
    I think that OKC coach made a mistake of keeping starters on court too long in games that were already under control. That gave RW, and KD a chance too boost their stats, but took to much energy away for the next game. Not to mention lack-of-confidence-signal for the OKC bench.

    • Rockets Man says:

      The reason the West is so much better than the East is apparent when you think of the fact that a team in the West didn’t make the playoffs with a record that was the same as the #3 seed in the East. The top of the East is great with the Heat and Pacers. But falls off after that. The West is loaded with 10 teams that compete for the playoffs.

    • Spurs baby! says:

      Clearly you don’t watch enough basketball, Lebron fan

    • SG says:

      Do you want an answer to that?

      The Heat were going for a 3-peat, because all of it’s competition is full of old people, a 7 foot center who can’t score or rebound, or a bunch of kids who have no veteran leadership or a bench that can go against the Heat. (Who were a sub par version of themselves due to the fact that Wade doesn’t want to play defense anymore…)

      OKC’s Coach, Brooks a ton of mistakes in that series. Not starting Serge in Game 1 (when you know he was just fine to play.), over playing his starters, not having the defensive presence of Thebo on the floor to slow down SA guards, starting Jackson (and leaving Butler to handle the offense. I think it took him 3 games to get on the board…lol), and not running 75% of the offense through KD. (Yes, he’s that good and you can win that way.)

      No way the Pacers beat any of the teams in the West…maybe the Clippers, Golden State and Portland. …and that’s a BIG maybe. I think Memphis, OKC, and Dallas beat the Heat in a 7 game series,

    • not telling you says:

      Okay, western conference was definitely stronger and better this past season, the eastern conference only really had two threats (Pacers and Miami) throughout the past season, wheras the western conference had multiple (OKC, Spurs, Portland, Rockets, Clippers and GSW) big teams that were championship worthy, unfortunately all of them faced within the first round so it was hard for people to judge how good they’re. just shows how strong the teams were. With this season, it is looking like the same story. East teams that have a chance will be Cleveland, Wizards and Bulls. I am a western conference fan, but im letting people know now, even if a west team take out the title, i bet the wizards will follow close behind, you’ll see.

  5. singaporean Fan says:

    They should come out with the top 10 worst playoff performance… since the list only makes up with the best superstars in the league (except for Leonard). CP3 has the worst performance in the 2014 hands down…

  6. prahumac says:

    the entire credit should go to my beautiful babies spurs because they play as a beautiful basketball team!!!!!! go spurs go~~~~

  7. No. 10? says:

    The writer is perhaps having an IQ of 70 or just a Spurs hater!

  8. fablins says:

    spurs , the champion of AC !!!

  9. Michael says:

    +70
    52.8%
    25/33 = 75.8% for one half
    13/15 = 86.7% for one quarter

  10. Nick says:

    Kawhi should clearly be #1. His great performances – especially on defense – were in the finals against the former champs. Degree of difficulty much higher than the others!

  11. Phillip says:

    L-Train best PF in the game!

  12. See red says:

    What about mike dunleavy? game 3 bulls-wizards

  13. charless702 says:

    I guess quality of opponent and overall stage doesn’t come into consideration when making this list. Aldridge and Lillard had a couple great performances but they did it against the Rockets in the first round. For example how is 25 points and 6 rebounds in the First Round against a team who plays horrible defense more impressive than 29 points and 4 rebounds in the NBA Finals against the defending champs? Is it because he hit a buzzer beater with some of the worst defense I’ve ever seen in my life? Well the guy who scored 29 points just happened to be guarding the best player in the world and held him to 22 points and caused him to have 7 turnovers. Maybe it’s just me but I think good performances against great opponents are better than great performances over mediocre opponents. I think Aldridge’s performances aren’t as impressive or “elite” as people make them out to be. Also any way you look at it Kawhi had multiple performances better than Lillard’s (and a few others.) That being said I think Russell Westbrook’s 40-10-5 against the Champs is more impressive than Lebron’s 49 points against the horrible Nets and Aldridge’s 46 and 18 against the mediocre Rockets.

    • Jeffg503 says:

      Even though it’s against the rocket…don’t forget about who’s on the rocket. All time defense Dwight Howard

      • charless702 says:

        Yeah Dwight is a great player (most of the time) but great players don’t mean a quality opponent. First Howard didn’t guard Aldridge a majority of the time until game 3. In fact I remember the “brilliant” coach McHale being asked if he’d put Howard on Aldridge because Aldridge was killing Asik and scoring at will. Don’t believe me, go rewatch the games. Honestly I really like Aldridge. He seems like a nice guy and I like his game. He’s not nearly as good as prime Duncan or K.G. but he is, IMO, right there with Love for the best PF in the game. Regardless though my original point and the point listed in this post are completely valid. Anyone who states otherwise clearly didn’t watch that series.

  14. henriquepgomide says:

    Basketball is not about one individual performance is about team performance. Have you paid attention to this year Mr. Joe Boozell?

    With this top-10, it seems that San Antonio have not even reached the playoffs. They have played huge, breaking a great number of records and are just listed in the tenth place.

  15. Karlo Garcia says:

    Kawhi Leonard #10 was surprising for me considering the performances he put in the playoffs plus NBA Finals. He should have been #1 on this list.

  16. Derek says:

    Definitely deserve those spots. Without a doubt LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE put in one of the finest Playoff games OF ALL-TIME! 46 and 18 on the road in a win hadn’t been done in nearly 50 years (Big O). The L-Train IS the best PF in the game today (sorry Love and Griffin) but when you add his defense, its definitive. Plus Kareem and Hakeem are on record saying he is the closest player to them playing the game today (I’m not saying he is them but they said he reminds them of themselves). The Trailblazers with a dominate big man and the coldest-blooded PG around in Damian Lillard have a bright future.

    • charless702 says:

      I’d take it one step further and say he’s probably the best all around big man in today’s game. Blake might come close, especially if he continues to add to his game and get better in the post. There aren’t that many good big men in today’s game though. If LaMarcus was 10 years older he’d have been the 3rd best PF behind Duncan (1) and K.G. (2.) Those two guys were light years ahead of Aldridge. However his two 43-8 and 46-18 aren’t the best playoff performance in 50 years. Let’s not forget this happened in the first round and against a team that plays little to no defense. If you look at what he did against the Spurs you can see he’s not really as dominate as Portland fans wish he was. Yeah he had a few decent games. If you were to look at just box scores you might even think he had a great game and a few pretty good games. The truth however is most of his points, especially in his 30 point game, came in garbage time of blowouts. In his 32 point game he had 12 or 13 points and they were down by 30 in the 3rd quarter. Anyway I’m not trying to knock Aldridge because I’m a big fan of his but those two performances aren’t nearly as great as you make them out to be.

      • Jeff says:

        Garbage time? 3 of the 6 games went into overtime and a fourth was won in regulation by 1 point (game 6). In game 2, the blazers won by seven points (which isn’t even close to a blowout as you mention) and game 5 was the biggest loss by any team where the blazers lost by ten (still not a blowout). In fact, it was anyones game in game 5 as the blazers were only down by five points starting the fourth quarter. So, I don’t see your logic that Aldridge scored most of his points in garbage time. Maybe garbage time is the last two minutes of any game to you… smh.

      • SG says:

        Did he do anything against the Spurs? lol

        Thank you for speaking a bit of wisdom here. Houston had nobody to guard him and despite the success PDX has had in the regular season against SA, they got exploited in the series.

        He’s young, he’s got a high ceiling and once he has a better bench around him (and not Mo Williams!), he’ll be even better.

        Be patient, I sense good things for the Trailblazers!

      • charless702 says:

        Yeah I see really good things for the Trailblazers. Teams like Portland and Golden State (along with a few others) are going to be dangerous in a few years. IMO they are probably dangerous to every team except S.A., OKC and maybe L.A.C. I don’t think Portland is deep enough and Golden State is too inconsistent. Anyway I’m just hoping the Spurs can hang a few more NBA Champ Banners in the AT&T Center in the next few years. I have my fingers crossed for back to backs.

  17. sananto$purs says:

    The spurs we’re just the better team.. this year now ..we cant have a rematch cuz lebron went crying bak home.. haha SPURS BABY

  18. spursnation says:

    should’ve put the performance of the whole spurs team in the finals in the list

  19. DA says:

    So Marcin Gortat’s 31 points, 16 rebounds and 1 block on 13-15 shooting in Game 5 of the second round vs the Pacers does not even qualify for 10th place? Really? Oh wait that was the Wizards! What was I thinking?!?!

    • charless702 says:

      The entire Eastern Conference shouldn’t even count. Honestly they need to take Paul George (and Lebron against the Nets) off this list. He puts up 39 and 12 against the pathetic Wizards and they act like it’s this huge accomplishment. They might as well add performances from March Madness if they’re going to consider any of the weak Eastern Conference players in the top 10 playoff performances. When every team in the East gets blown out by the Heat, who then in turn get completely destroyed by the Western Conference Champs, it’s hard to take that entire conference serious.

    • SG says:

      Polish HAMMER time!

      Gortat was a pimp! …he did have an excellent match up though :) Hibbert has Jerome James syndrome.

  20. harrythehawk says:

    Russell Westbrook is a such a great player. It was nice seeing him and Durant win Espy awards. Nice.

  21. A says:

    Glad they gave Aldridge the credit he deserves with his playoff performances. Wish Lillard was higher on the list, but the performances above him were also really good.

  22. okckd35 says:

    Lebron only got #2 because he is lebron. So he scored 49 with 6 boards. Is that really better than 39,16, and 6? Or 40,10,and 5? Something lebron aint done himself? Lebron always gets too much hype. It was a good game against a bad opponent

    • ??????? says:

      you can’t seriously think that similar stats equate to similar games played. lebron dominated that game individually (barely anybody else on the heat showed up). he may have only scored 10 more points, but he was a one-man crew that night. that’s why it was an impressive individual performance (the game itself wasn’t very good).

    • Ty says:

      Regardless, that’s what happened.

  23. jimmy says:

    Why are there so many grammar errors and typos in this article? Attribute to summer laziness????