The Highest-Scoring NBA Finals Games of All Time
The Warriors, Lakers and Celtics are all prominent on our list featuring the highest-scoring NBA Finals games, though there is one matchup that stands clear of the rest.
Defenses typically up their game by the time the NBA playoffs come around each year, but there have been some prominent matchups in which that has clearly not been the case.
The NBA Finals can often produce tense battles, particularly in the closest series that are still up for grabs by the time Games 6 and 7 are scheduled to be played.
However, there have been rare occasions where the scoreboard was almost broken.
Some Finals games have produced such entertainment that without knowing the context you may have easily mistaken it for a regular season slugfest with little on the line, and you will not find many fans complaining.
We have already looked at the players to score the most points in an NBA Finals game and profiled the stars who have hit the most 3s in the decisive series.
Now we are running through the highest-scoring NBA Finals games and there is one battle that sits way ahead of the rest.
Highest-Scoring NBA Finals Games
Philadelphia 76ers 141, San Francisco Warriors 135 (April 14, 1967)
There were a combined 276 points in the highest-scoring single game in the Finals of all time.
The 76ers and Warriors traded blows in an unforgettable encounter in Game 1 of the 1967 NBA Finals before Philadelphia came out on top and would go on to win the series 4-2.
The Eastern Conference champion had been the Boston Celtics for 10 straight years before the Sixers finally had their chance to shine in the Finals. They made the most of it, scoring at least 122 points in five of the six games.
It was a series that contained six players who would make the Hall of Fame: Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Hal Greer and Chet Walker represented the Sixers, and Rick Barry and Nate Thurmond turned out for the Warriors.
And Game 1 of the series is the matchup that has secured a permanent place in the record books.
Interestingly, there were no players who posted mammoth individual points and instead, both franchises had contributions from throughout the team.
Barry was the top scorer on court with 37 points in a losing effort for the Warriors, who also had strong outings from Thurmond (26) and Tom Meschery (20).
The Sixers had four contributors with 20 or more points. Greer was their highest scorer with 32, Wali Jones added 30, Cunningham scored 26 and Walker chipped in with 23.
Barry went on to score a phenomenal 55 points for the Warriors in Game 3 – a meeting that also makes it into the top 10 high-scoring NBA Finals games (currently eighth). Only Elgin Baylor (Lakers) has scored more in a single NBA Finals game, with Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls) also having a 55-point game to his name.
Los Angeles Lakers 141, Boston Celtics 122 (June 4, 1987)
They have had plenty of meetings in the NBA Finals over the years, so it is perhaps little surprise that the Lakers and Celtics have also produced one of the highest-scoring games.
However, the fact that six of the top 10 highest-scoring NBA Finals games of all time have been games between the Lakers and Celtics is a remarkable statistic.
This Game 2 clash in the 1987 series produced an astonishing 263 points as some of the great NBA players did battle.
As with the first game on this list, no huge individual point totals were had, unlike the previous battles between the teams when the likes of Baylor and Jerry West produced big tallies.
Byron Scott had the most with 24 points, with James Worthy (23), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (23) and Michael Cooper (21) all having notable efforts for the Lakers.
Magic Johnson, who would go on to be voted the NBA Finals MVP, produced a sensational performance with 22 points and 20 assists, while Cooper sank six 3-pointers, which was almost unheard of in that era.
Larry Bird had 23 points with Kevin McHale and Dennis Johnson adding 20 each for the Celtics, who ultimately had no answer for Magic as they fell to a heavy loss as part of what would become a 4-2 series defeat, with the Lakers claiming the NBA championship.
Boston Celtics 148, Los Angeles Lakers 114 (May 27, 1985)
Two years earlier, it had been the Celtics who came out on top of a shootout.
The 148 points by the Celtics in Game 1 of the 1985 series is the most by one team in NBA Finals history.
McHale and Scott Wedman both had 26 points, with Wedman incredibly making all 11 of his shots.
Bird racked up 19 points and nine assists and Danny Ainge also had 19 points – 15 of which came as part of a blistering Celtics start in the first quarter.
Boston already had the game won when it led 79-49 at halftime, but the team simply refused to take its foot off the gas.
The Memorial Day Massacre was a huge dent to the Lakers’ pride, with Magic claiming just one rebound and Abdul-Jabbar held to only 12 points.
But Los Angeles responded the right way and ultimately had the last laugh, winning the series in six games with Abdul-Jabbar named as the Finals MVP.
There were two other games in the Finals that had 262 total points. Boston’s 140-122 win over Bob Pettit and the St. Louis Hawks (1960) and the Lakers’ 133-129 victory against the Celtics (1966) round out the top five.
Highest-Scoring Finals Game This Century
Cleveland Cavaliers 137, Golden State Warriors 116 (June 9, 2017)
With 253 points scored, the Warriors-Cavaliers battle in Game 4 of the 2017 Finals made history.
It was the highest-scoring NBA Finals game for 30 years (since Lakers vs. Celtics in 1987) and is still the Finals contest with the most total points scored in this century.
In the third of four consecutive Finals series between the two teams, the Warriors were desperate to make up for their dramatic loss in seven games to LeBron James and Cleveland in 2016.
The Warriors had been relentless, sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs in the NBA playoffs before racing into a 3-0 Finals lead over the Cavs.
But Cleveland was determined to deny them the perfect postseason and produced a performance that restored some pride and will live long in the memory, powered by their three All-Star players.
Kyrie Irving was inspired, scoring 40 points with seven 3-point field goals, while Kevin Love hit six 3s of his own in a 23-point display.
Cleveland made 24 shots from beyond the arc in total and LeBron was outstanding with a triple-double of 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.
The Cavs scored 49 points in the first quarter to set them up for a Finals record 86 points in the first half, while Kevin Durant contributed 35 points for the Warriors.
Although it was a night the Cavaliers will fondly remember, it was only a brief reprieve in what was ultimately a losing battle against the unstoppable Warriors. Durant (39 points) and Stephen Curry (34 points) led Golden State to a 129-120 win in Game 5 that clinched the title.
Then, one year later in the 2018 Finals, the Warriors did get the sweep over Cleveland, sealing a third championship in four years and prompting LeBron to leave for the Lakers.
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