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Can LaMarcus Aldridge break the all-time single-playoff scoring record?

Apr 24, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets - Game Two Getty Images

LaMarcus Aldridge has scored and 46 and 43 points in two playoff games. To be Captain Obvious, that’s a lot.

In fact, his 44.5 points per game would break break the all-time single-playoff scoring record:

1. 44.5, LaMarcus Aldridge (2014 Portland Trail Blazers)

2. 43.7, Michael Jordan (1986 Chicago Bulls)

3. 40.6, Jerry West (1965 Los Angeles Lakers)

4. 38.6, Elgin Baylor (1962 Los Angeles Lakers)

5. 38.1, Elgin Baylor (1961 Los Angeles Lakers)

6. 37.5, Hakeem Olajuwon (1988 Houston Rockets)

7. 37.4, Bob McAdoo (1975 Buffalo Braves)

8. 37.0, Wilt Chamberlain (1961 Philadelphia Warriors)

9. 36.7, Michael Jordan (1990 Chicago Bulls)

10. 36.3, Michael Jordan (1988 Chicago Bulls)

11. 35.7, Michael Jordan (1987 Chicago Bulls)

12. 35.3, LeBron James (2009 Cleveland Cavaliers)

13. 35.2, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970 Milwaukee Bucks)

14. 35.1, Michael Jordan (1993 Chicago Bulls)

15. 35.0, Wilt Chamberlain (1962 Philadelphia Warriors)

Can Aldridge keep his place atop that list?

The easiest way to do so would be losing to the Rockets. Maintaining such a high scoring average is much more difficult over a larger sample. Jordan’s 43.7  came in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Celtics. In fact, six of the instances on the above list (including Aldridge) came from teams that didn’t advance past the first round.

At minimum, Aldridge must pad his numbers against Houston before advancing. The Rockets’ inability to double-team him in space has left him plenty of good looks – at least by his standards – from mid-range. This is a good matchup for him.

The next round, due to regression to the mean alone, will likely be tougher. Plus, the Spurs or Mavericks will have more time to scout him and find ways to limit his effectiveness.

Aldridge had similar regular-season scoring numbers against Dallas and Houston (a little more per game against Houston, a little more per minute against Dallas), and the Mavericks’ defensive reputation suggests an easier time. However, he shot 56 percent against San Antonio in the regular season – by far his best mark against a Western Conference playoff team.

But, if the Trail Blazers advance, Terry Stotts won’t gameplan for the next series with the primary goal of preserving Aldridge’s scoring average. I doubt Aldridge would be particularly concerned it, either.

Besides, a regression is almost assured. Here are the seven times a player has scored at least 80 points in the first two games of the playoffs. Notice how everyone’s scoring average tumbles? It’s just too difficult to maintain such production in the long run.

image

It’s for these reasons the all-time single-playoff scoring record is only barely within Aldridge’s reach despite him holding the mark currently. If he hangs on, there’s a solid chance something went wrong with Portland’s playoff run.

However, Aldridge is in much better shape to break the Trail Blazers record – 28.3 by Billy Ray Bates in a 1981 three-game sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Kings.

Here’s how many points per game Aldridge would need to average in Portland’s remaining playoff games, a number that ranges from four to 26, to tie the record:

image

Claiming the NBA record would be a tremendous accomplishment, and it’s incredible Aldridge has even put himself in the discussion. He’s a very good player who has elevated his game when it matters most.

But breaking the Trail Blazers record and not the league record is much more likely with a long Portland playoff run, and isn’t that what matters most?

  1. spthegr8 - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    If he plays the Rocket’s every game….YES!!! He is KILLING them. Lunch Meat out there!!! They have absolutely NOBODY that can guard him. T Jones is to small and Howard and Asik are to slow. & they really can’t double him because he isn’t posting up. He is working his mid range game. Houston…..you have a problem. & his name is L.A.!!!!!

    • rkb555 - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      I don’t think howard is too slow for any big man. He plays an area and doesn’t venture too far away which is why aldridge was killing houston on mid jumpers the last game. Howard needs to be better utilized on D.

      • spthegr8 - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        @rkb555
        The reason Dwight doesn’t come out there is because he isn’t comfortable on the perimeter and he is too slow to cover L.A. I thought it was pretty obvious!! That is why he is giving him so much space. Because he can’t get to close cuz L.A. will blow right by him!! But, opinions vary.

      • rkb555 - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:37 PM

        @spthegr8
        If you watch howard throughout his career, he rarely guards away from the basket regardless who it is. You are correct he is more comfortable inside the paint but it’s also his Achilles heel which is why he has never expanded his offense like hakeem and why he doesn’t defend further away with more athletic guys. Howard has some mileage on him but he’s not too slow to guard aldridge.

      • psubeerman21 - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        The point is we will never know because he never does it.

      • spthegr8 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:05 PM

        @rkb
        We can agree to disagree!

  2. cgmac - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    His sole focus is on winning. Scoring records mean nothing, he just wants to experience life outside of the first round.

    • rkb555 - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      You are lying to yourself if you think players believe scoring records mean nothing. It may not be the pc thing to say to the media. That would be like a running back saying his 200 yd day doesn’t mean much as long as as we got the win. He may say it but he damn well won’t mean it.

      • shen90 - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        LMA really does not care about personal awards. He just wants to win. It is the only thing he cares about. It is why he was so pissed last year and demanded Blazers get a true C to pair with him.

      • rkb555 - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:43 PM

        All athletes care about personal records. They also care about winning and if it was up to them they would have both but no athlete wants to win and not be the main reason because of it especially when they know they are the “man.” All athletes have egos and the bigger your star the bigger your ego. It is part of what gives them their competitive drive, that edge.

  3. phillysports1 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    HOUSTON, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM ! Lol

  4. bobmcbigballs - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Two games in?? I know LA is killing it but come on.

    • urodaddy07 - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      94% of teams that go 2-up go on to win the series. That is to say; Houston (statistically) has a 6% chance of coming back to win the series. Not good odds.

  5. phillysports1 - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Uh yeah ? Two games in but hello they’re going back to Portland ? With a 2-0 lead come on !!!! ???

  6. lj312chicago - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    Better utilize Howard on D? Howard is a rim protector he can’t guard anyone outside of the paint 1 on 1

  7. lj312chicago - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    P.s. Lamarcus is opting out after this season…sorry Portland

    • bougin89 - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      Except for the fact that, you know, he doesn’t have a player option for next year. He’ll be a free agent in the summer of 2015 when his current contract expires(unless of course he signs an extension before that).

      • shen90 - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:14 PM

        He has already said he wants to spend his entire career in Portland. He threatened to leave in FA unless team got a C so went out and got a C and he has never been happier. Soon as he realized FO has his back he decided he never wants to leave. He has said a number of times he has no interest in playing anywhere else, has said he wants to be Portland’s Dirk/Duncan.

      • bougin89 - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        I don’t see a reason why he’d leave either. I just wanted to point out how ridiculous lj312chicago’s comment was.

      • shen90 - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        Sorry, I should have been more clear, I was simply adding to your reply.

      • bougin89 - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        No worries, friend. I knew we were in agreement.

  8. bikerboy24 - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    Getting a little ahead of ourselves, are we?

  9. 00maltliquor - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    No

    Can’t wait to see the over/under on the player prop for LMA. If it’s 30 or higher I’m taking the under in a heartbeat.

  10. chunkala - Apr 24, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Getting way ahead of ourselves here.

  11. phillyrox - Apr 24, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    I am truthfully shocked that Wilt Chamberlain did not lead in this stat.

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:28 PM

      No kidding, I had to re-look at the list 3x and rub my eyeballs each time. What happened that one season he averaged 50+, he didn’t make the playoffs or he got shut the eff down?

      • bougin89 - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Little known fact about Wilt Chamberlain’s 50 ppg season. He averaged 48.5 minutes per game that season. Just think about that…

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