Throughout NBA playoff history, certain players have risen to the occasion time and again to hit iconic last-second shots or carry their teams to victory in dramatic fashion, establishing themselves as some of the most clutch NBA players of all time. These clutch performances under the highest pressure create indelible moments that live on in playoff lore. Let’s take a look at some of the most clutch players in NBA postseason history:

Michael Jordan

Widely considered the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan was as clutch as it gets come playoff time. He lived for the big shots on the game’s biggest stage, solidifying himself as one of the most clutch NBA players of all time. Some examples of Jordan’s clutch playoff resume:

– Hit “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo to win the first round series vs. Cavs in 1989

– Averaged 31.2 ppg in his playoff career, with 33.4 ppg in NBA Finals

– Won 6 NBA titles, with 6 Finals MVP awards

– Hit numerous iconic buzzer-beaters and go-ahead shots in playoffs

– “Flu Game” in 1997 Finals showed supreme resolve, dropping 38 points while very sick

– 45 points to eliminate Pistons “Bad Boys” from 1990 playoffs after years of defeat

Jordan always elevated his play in the postseason, averaging more points in the playoffs than the regular season. His mixture of skills, competitiveness and swagger made him the king of clutch in the NBA playoffs.

Robert Horry

Robert Horry didn’t put up gaudy stats, but he made his presence felt by coming through in the clutch again and again for title contenders, establishing himself as one of the most clutch NBA players of all time. With seven championship rings, Big Shot Bob earned his nickname with some of the biggest shots in playoff history:

– Game-winning triple with seconds left to beat Kings in 2002 Western Conference Finals

– Iconic three-pointer to seal 2005 NBA Finals win for Spurs against Pistons

– Hit clutch go-ahead three to beat Suns in Game 4 of 2007 playoffs

While stars like Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan got the glory, Horry relished his role in hitting back-breaking daggers for seven title teams in the playoffs. As a role player, Horry’s clutch heroics stand out even more.

Magic Johnson

The ultimate floor general, Magic Johnson consistently orchestrated comebacks and game-winning plays to lift the Lakers in the postseason. His playoff clutch credentials:

– Averaged 19.5 points, 12.3 assists, and 7.2 rebounds in playoffs

– Most playoff triple-doubles in NBA history with 30

– Hit sky-hook over Celtics to clinch 1980 Finals as rookie

– Bounced back from mistakes in 1984 Finals to lead series win

– Orchestrated “junior sky-hook” game-winner against Celtics in 1987 Finals

Magic could do it all to carry his team to victory. He thrived with the ball in his hands in big moments, especially in the NBA Finals where he won 3 Finals MVP awards.

Larry Bird

Like his rival Magic Johnson, Larry Bird had a knack for rising to the occasion in the bright lights of the NBA playoffs, and was certainly one of the most clutch players NBA players of all time. Bird refused to let his team lose, doing whatever was necessary in the clutch:

– Led Celtics on fourth quarter scoring barrage to steal Game 7 in 1984 East Semis.

– Shrugged off shooting struggles to spark Celtics’ rallies to two titles in 1984 and 1986

– Draining steal and go-ahead basket to seal 1987 East Finals Game 7 vs Pistons

– Legendary duel with Dominique Wilkins in 1988 playoffs

– Multiple clutch defensive plays, rebounds, and assists

Bird had a supreme confidence in himself and his team, allowing him to sink game-winning shots or make clutch stops to pull out dramatic playoff wins for the Celtics throughout the 1980s.

Jerry West

“Mr. Clutch” himself, Jerry West always delivered in the postseason for the Lakers, even in defeat. Some clutch West playoff moments:

– Combo guard averaged 29.1 ppg in 153 career playoff games

– Game-winner to beat Celtics in 1969 NBA Finals, though Lakers still lost series

– Iconic 60-foot shot to send 1970 NBA Finals Game 3 vs Knicks into overtime

– Set scoring records in latter playoff games, showing endurance under pressure

West loved taking over late in playoff games, even as defenses schemed to stop him. His scoring prowess, competitive drive and durability produced some of the most memorable clutch playoff performances of the 1960s and 70s.

Reggie Miller

The elite three-point marksman has a long list of playoff daggers that cemented his legacy as a clutch performer. Reggie Miller came through when the Pacers needed him most:

– Scored 8 points in 8.9 seconds to stun Knicks in 1995 playoffs

– Forces overtime vs. Jordan’s Bulls in 1998 playoffs, nearly leading upset

– Multiple game-winning shots, including over Michael Jordan

– Strong fourth quarter scoring to lead comeback wins for Pacers

Miller lived for hostile environments and crunch time in the postseason. His quick-release lethally accurate jumper punished teams that left him open in clutch moments.


Chris Paul

Still active today, Chris Paul has repeatedly demonstrated poise under pressure in the playoffs. As one of the most clutch NBA players of all time, CP3’s skills have been on full display:

– Took over 4th quarters throughout 2018 playoff run leading Rockets to verge of Finals

– Orchestrated comeback from 27 down against Grizzlies in 2015 playoffs

– Multiple buzzer-beaters and late go-ahead shots, including vs. Spurs in 2015

– Strong two-man game with Blake Griffin to beat defending champion Spurs in 2015 playoffs

Paul plays with an old school mentality, using his high IQ to manipulate defenses and dictate the action when it matters most in the playoffs. Years of disappointment have only hardened his resolve.

Stephen Curry

The greatest shooter in NBA history has shown he also has a flair for the dramatic in the postseason. He has broken hearts time and time again, with his long resume of clutch plays:

– NBA record 3-pointers made in the playoffs, including multiple clutch shots

– Game-winner over Anthony Davis Pelicans in 2015 first round

– Set NBA record with 17 points in overtime to defeat Blazers 2019 Western Conference Finals

– Multiple authoritative clutch three-pointers to demoralize opponents

Even when struggling, Curry is capable of catching fire in a hurry thanks to his quick trigger and unlimited range. No lead is safe when the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ is on the floor in the playoffs.

Tim Duncan

The understated Duncan was like an assassin in the playoffs, willing his teams to victory however possible. He was one of the most clutch NBA players of all time on both ends of the floor, and was able to make shots, block opponent attempts and grab big rebounds. The Big Fundamental always delivered:

– Clutch defensive plays and rebounds to preserve victories

– Bank shot for the win against Suns in epic 2008 playoff series

– Dominant clutch performance to take down defending champ Lakers in 2003

– Saved San Antonio’s season with 3-pointer vs. Suns in Game 7 of 2008 playoffs

– Duncan averaged 20+ ppg in 13 straight playoff runs for Spurs

Duncan went to battle every night in the postseason and elevated his game when needed most. His consistency and nerdy fundamentals translate to playoff success.

Kobe Bryant

The ‘Black Mamba’ lived for the playoffs. Kobe embraced the big moments and made his mark with ring-winning plays:

– 4th quarter scoring outbursts to lead Lakers to multiple comebacks

– Game-tying and winning shots, including iconic three-pointers against Suns and Blazers

– ESPN calculated Bryant scored more clutch points in playoffs than any player since 1997

– Eight straight playoff runs with 30+ ppg averages from 2003-2010

– Two Finals MVPs to lead title runs sans Shaq in 2009 and 2010

Bryant took tough shots, but he lived for the challenge of making them when the stakes were highest in the playoffs. His attack mentality carried over to the defensive end as well.

LeBron James

No current player has a longer resume of clutch playoff moments than LeBron James. The King always reigns when it matters most:

– Game-winning jumper over Jimmy Butler to clinch 2020 Finals

– Two iconic Game 7 block/chase-down stops in 2016 Finals vs. Warriors

– The Block: chasedown stop on Iguodala in dying minutes of 2016 Finals

– 45 point effort to stave off elimination vs. Celtics in 2012 ECF

– Consecutive 40+ point outings to fuel title run vs. Warriors in 2016

– Multiple buzzer-beaters to win series; iconic fadeaway over Raptors

For two decades, LeBron has shown a propensity to rise up when his teams face elimination or close out opportunities in the playoffs. His blend of physical and mental dominance puts him on the short list of clutch greats.


In conclusion, the NBA has been graced with a plethora of clutch performers who have left an indelible mark on the league’s postseason history, establishing themselves as some of the most clutch NBA players of all time. From Michael Jordan’s iconic game-winners to Kobe Bryant’s fearless scoring outbursts, these players have consistently risen to the occasion when the stakes are highest.

Whether it’s Magic Johnson’s clutch playmaking, Larry Bird’s relentless competitiveness, or LeBron James’ all-around dominance, each of these players has showcased a unique blend of skill, composure, and mental toughness that defines clutch performance. As the NBA continues to evolve, new stars like Stephen Curry and Chris Paul are carrying on this tradition of clutch greatness, ensuring that the legacy of clutch performers will continue to be a defining aspect of the NBA playoffs for years to come.