Here are NBA playoff number trivia other than official game records. They are not among the stats that enter record books but tell stories that official stats can’t:
Trivia on individuals
• LeBron James is the second player to win an MVP award with a franchise and then face that franchise in the Finals later in his career. Wilt Chamberlain won MVP honors with the Warriors in 1959-60 and then faced the Warriors in the 1967 Finals as a member of the 76ers. (ESPN Stats and Info)
• Bradley Beal averaged 30.5 PPG this season and did not make All-NBA. That is the 3rd-most PPG in a season without making All-NBA in NBA history for players who played in at least 40 games. (ESPN Stats and Info)• Youth take charge: Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals was the first time in NBA history that four players 24 or younger scored 20 or more points in a Conference Finals game, per Elias Sports. Jaylen Brown, 23 years old, scored 26 points while Jayson Tatum, 22 years old, scored 25 points for the Boston Celtics. On the other hand, Bam Adebayo, 23 years old, scored 27 points and Tyler Herro, 20 years old, scored 22 points for the Miami Heat, (nba.com/stats)
• Lillard was on fire during the seeding games, averaging 37.6 PPG, 9.6 APG, 5.5 3PG on 49.7 FG%, 43.6 3P%, 88.8 FT%. That earned him the Player of the Seeding Games award. (NBA.com/stats) Damian Lillard finished this season averaging: 30.0 PPG (Blazers franchise record); 8.0 APG; 46.3 FG%; 40.1 3P%, all career-highs.
• LeBron, who has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, is the only player in NBA History to average at least 25 point a game in the postseason heading into the NBA Finals with three different teams.
• It appears LeBron doesn’t seem to mind starting a playoff series in a loss or being down in any point of a playoff series. James has a decent 11-8 record when trailing starting a best-of-7 series 0-1. He increased that to 13 wins when trailing at any point of a best-of-7 series. According to Elias, both figures are the most by any player all-time. (ESPN stats and info)
• Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic displayed a nostalgic scene of throwback basketball. The two giants scored the last 22 points in Game 2 of the West finals for a classic Battle of the Bigmen. (StatMuse)
• Nikola Jokic recorded a 20-rebound triple-double against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of the west Semifinals. This is the first in a playoff game since Kevin Garnett in 2004! He is also the first player to record a triple-double through three quarters of a Game 7 over the last 25 years. (nba.com/stats)
• Nikola Jokic is the 3rd player with at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists through 3 quarters of an NBA playoff game since play-by-play tracking began in 1996-97. The others who have reached these marks are Steve Nash in May 18, 2005 and LeBron James in 3 different instances. (ESPN stats and info).
• Jamal Murray scored 50 points in Game 4 of Denver’s first round series. He followed it up with a 42 in Game 5. He’s only the second player in NBA playoffs since 1976 to do this feat. The only other player to follow a 50+ point playoffs game with a 40+ point one since 1976 is Michael Jordan (3 instances). (NBA.com/stats)
• Michael Porter Jr. scored 28 points with 6 three point shots and grabbed 6 rebounds in Game 2 of the West first round. He is the second rookie in NBA history with 25+ PTS, 5+ REB, 5+ 3PM in a playoff game (Daniel Gibson in 2007). (StatMuse)
• James Harden scored 32 points and dished 15 assists in Game 4 of the Rockets first round series. He became the first player to register 30+ points and 15+ assists in a playoff game since Chris Paul did it on April 22, 2008. (NBA/stats.com)
His Rockets, however, fell to Paul’s Thunder, 114-117. making him the first to do such feat while losing since John Stockton scored 34 and dished 16 in for the Jazz in 1989. (basketballreference.com)
• In 117 career playoff games, Harden has scored at least 35 points 20 times, which is the 8th most of any player since the 1984 Playoffs and the third most of any active player behind LeBron James (56 in 240 games) and Kevin Durant (33 in 139 games). (NBA.com/stats)
• Oklahoma City Thunder Lu Dort now owns the most points in a Game 7 before turning 22. He scored 30 points during Game 7 of the Western Conference first round series between the Rockets and Thunder. This may sound a dubious record until knowing that Lebron James previously held the record with 27 and Kobe Bryant trails him with 25. (StatMuse)
In addition, his 30 is the third most points in a Game 7 by a rookie. Boston’s Tom Heinsohn owns the record with 37 while Tom Meschery with the Philadelphia Warriors is second at 32. (StatMuse)
• Luka Doncic tallied 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists in the Mavericks thrilling first round Game 4 win over the Clippers. He became the third man in NBA history to record at least 40 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists in a playoff game. Oscar Robertson (41-15-12) did it first on March 21, 1963. Charles Barkley (43-15-10) duplicated the feat on June 1, 1993.
Doncic’s was probably the sweetest as he drained a triple that beat the buzzer to give the Mavericks a 135-133 walk-off win. In addition, Doncic’s 43 points is tied for 2nd most points in a playoff triple double, only behind Russell Westbrook’s 51.
This also made Doncic the youngest player in playoffs history to post a 40-point triple-double and the 2nd youngest player in NBA history to put up back-to-back triple-doubles in the playoffs behind Magic Johnson.
• Doncic is the 4th player since 1989 to make a game-winning buzzer-beater in a 40+ point playoff performance. He joins LeBron (Game 5 of the 2018 East first round against Indiana), Kawhi Leonard vs. PHI (Game 7 of the 2019 East finals against Philadelphia), and Damian Lillard vs. OKC (Game 5 of the 2019 West first round against Oklahoma City• LeBron James went for 28 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals, becoming the second player since 1973-74 to reach those thresholds in an NBAplayoff game. Russell Westbrook with the Thunder (29 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks on April 23, 2019) was the first to do it. (NBA.com/stats)
• Donovan Mitchell has 87 points and 15 assists through 2 games this postseason. The only other players to reach 80+ PTS and 15+ AST through the first 2 games of a postseason are Jerry West (101 PTS, 17 AST in 1965) and Michael Jordan (80 PTS, 15 AST in 1995). (NBA.com/stats)
• Boston and Miami’s meeting in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals marks the first time the East finals won’t feature either top 2 seeds since the playoffs went to 16 teams in 1984. (StatMuse)
• The Toronto Raptors and Celtics combined for 35 points in the 2nd OT in their first round series. That is tied for the 3rd-most in a single OT period in NBA postseason history.
• After just the Celtics first round series, Kemba Walker has more playoff wins (4) in one season with Boston than he had in 8 seasons with Charlotte (3). Obviously, he gets his first career playoff series win. Walker has a total of 10 playoff wins this season as the Celtics bowed out in the East final in six games.
• The Celtics are an amazing 17-2 this season whenever Jaylen Brown scores 25 points. The only losses were Game 6 of the East semifinals where he scored 31 in double overtime and Game 6 of the East finals where he scored 26 (ESPN stats and info)
• Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the second pair of Celtics teammates to each have 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists in a game over the last 30 postseasons. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo did so in Game 2 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals. (ESPN Stats and Info)
• Boston scored 60 points in the paint in Game 3 of the East finals to tie their most in a playoff game over the last 20 postseasons.
Los Angeles Lakers
• Anthony Davis scored at least 30 points through the first 3 quarters in both Game 1 and Game 2. He became the first Laker to do this in back-to-back NBA Finals games since Shaquille O’Neal did it in 2002.
• The Lakers could not buy a wide open 3-pointer during Game 3 of the West finals. According to Second Spectrum, they shot 0-9 on 3-pointers when the closest defender was 6+ feet away, including 0-3 in the final 5 minutes of the game. That is the most attempts without a make this postseason. (ESPN Stats and Info)
• Lebron scored 38 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, and dished off 10 assists during the West finals closeout game. He is the first Laker to have a 35+ point, 15+ rebound triple-double in the playoffs since James Worthy in 1988. In addition, this was LeBron’s 4th triple-double this postseason. The last Laker to record at least 4 triple-doubles in a single postseason was Magic’s in the 1991 playoffs.
• LeBron became the first player in Lakers history to record multiple 30-point triple-doubles in the postseason. The only other Lakers with 1 such game are James Worthy (1988) and Jerry West (1969). (ESPN Stats and Info)
• LeBron scored 30 points and dished 10 assists in Game 4 of the Lakers first round series. This is the first time a Lakers player scored 30+ points and assisted 10+ times in an NBA Playoffs game since Kobe Bryant did it on May 25, 2010.
• Anthony Davis’ game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave the Lakers a 105-103 win in Game 2 of the West Conference Finals was the first walk-off triple for the Los Angeles Lakers since Robert Horry hit his winning trey on May 26, 2002 against Sacramento. (nba.com/stats) In addition, it was the first Lakers game-winning buzzer-beater in the playoffs since Metta World Peace in 2010. This shot was also Davis’ 2nd career game-winning buzzer-beater and first in his playoff career. (ESPN Stats and Info)• LeBron scored 38 points in Game 3 of the Lakers’first round series. He is the third oldest player in NBA history to drop 38+ points in a playoff game behind Karl Malone and Reggie Miller. (StatMuse)
• The Denver Nuggets are the third team to chalk up 6 wins when trailing in a playoff series.
• The Nuggets are generally winning games when they are closely contested but losing them in blowouts. Denver advance to the Conference Finals despite having a point differential of -21 this playoffs. (StatMuse)
• Jimmy Butler joins Dwyane Wade (2006) as the only Miami Heat players to score at least 30 points through the first 3 quarters of an NBA Finals game. (nba.com/stats)
• Bam Adebayo scored 32 points, a playoff career-high, grabbed 14 rebounds and dished off 5 assists in the East finals closeout game to join Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James and Wade as the Heat players to record at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists in a postseason game.
• The Miami Heat became the first team in NBA history to win multiple games after trailing by at least 12 points entering the 4th quarter in a single postseason. They trailed the Celtics in Game 1 of the East finals by 12 entering the 4th and trailed by 12 in Game 3 against the Bucks. (ESPN Stats and info)
• Giannis Antetokounmpo has the second most scoring average by the Defensive Player of the Year: (1) Michael Jordan, (35.0 during 1987-88 season); (2) Antetokounmpo, (29.5, 2019-20); (3) Hakeem Olajuwon, (27.3, 1993-94); Hakeem Olajuwon (26.1, 1992-93). (basketballreference,com)
• Fred VanVleet tallied 30 points and 11 assists in Game 1 of the Raptors first round series. He becomes the first player in Raptors franchise history to record 30+ points and 10+ assists in the playoffs.
By Armando M. Bolislis