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On This Date in Sports April 20, 1986: Jordan Drops 63 on Boston

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls scores the most points in the postseason history, dropping 63 on the Boston Celtics. However, the Bulls lose the game 135-131 at the Boston Garden in double overtime. Larry Bird leads a balanced effort for Boston, scoring 36 points, while Kevin McHale scores 27 and Danny Ainge scores 24. The Celtics would sweep the series in three games on the way to an NBA Championship.

Coming off the Rookie of the Year in 1985, Michael Jordan had a frustrating second season in the NBA, as a broken foot caused him to miss 64 games. Despite the loss of their top player, the Bulls, coached by Stan Albeck, still snuck into the playoffs with a 30-52 record, the fifth-worst record of all-time to make the NBA Playoffs. The Boston Celtics, led by K.C. Jones, was a juggernaut posting a record of 67-15, the second-best win total in franchise history. Powering the Celtics' run was a 40-1 mark at the Boston Garden, the best in NBA history.

The Celtics learned that the Bulls were not going to be an easy out as Michael Jordan, after being limited to 18 games in the regular season, showed the world that he was 100% for the playoffs, scoring 49 points as the Celtics won the opener 123-104. Meanwhile, Boston got a balanced effort, with Larry Bird scoring 30 points, Kevin McHale added 27, Dennis Johnson had 26, and Robert Parrish had 23.

Game 2 would see Michael Jordan make history scoring 63 points to set a new record for points in a postseason game. The previous record was 61 points set by Elgin Baylor of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1962 NBA Finals against the Celtics. Michael Jordan played 53 of 58 minutes in a double-overtime game, making 22 of 41 shots from the field without shooting a three-point shot. From the line, Jordan made 19 of 21 shots to account for 63 points. Larry Bird got 36 points when it was needed most, showing why he won this third straight MVP award. McHale added 27 while Danny Ainge scored 24. Also of note, George “The Iceman” Gervin was held scoreless in five minutes for Chicago in his final NBA game.

Two nights later, at Chicago Stadium, the Celtics focused on slowing Michael Jordan down and held him to 19 points while they completed the three-game sweep with a 122-104 win. The Celtics would roll to their 16th NBA Championship, ending perhaps the finest season the franchise ever had.

Michael Jordan, meanwhile, would have to wait five years to know that feeling, as the Bulls needed to fill in the missing pieces. He would lead Chicago to six titles in eight years; he posted five of the first ten games in which players scored 55 points or more in a postseason game.