There have been plenty of plays in playoff history that could be dubbed the “greatest play”. From the Ray Allen clutch three in the 2013 NBA Finals to Michael Jordan and “The Shot” against the Jazz in the 1998 Finals. To clarify, Giannis’ block in the video above is the greatest DEFENSIVE play in playoff history.
Yes, even better than the LeBron block on Andre Iguodala in the 2016 Finals. So, what constitutes a play as the “greatest play” either offensively or defensively? Based on my fan experience, a play in this category would have to change the course of the game.
What does that mean? Well, any play that changes the course of the games usually helps a team gain momentum overall. These plays are rare because they only occur at the right moment otherwise a team could lose the game. For Giannis, his block on Deandre Ayton I think sealed game four. The block stopped the Suns from tying the game at the last minute, and the Bucks would win.
So, with Giannis’ block at number one, here are a few more blocks in playoff history that have proven to be vital to the outcome. Let’s check it out.
5.) Giannis On Mikal Bridges- Game One 2021 Finals
Coincidence that Giannis is on here twice? Absolutely not, in-game one he nearly popped the basketball on the backboard. Mikal Bridges got out on a fast break and Giannis in a full chase down, got back to pin the ball and prevent the score. The block was nearly identical to LeBron blocking Iguodala in 2016 and the broadcast made sure to point that out. The block helped prevent Phoenix from adding onto their lead right before the half. While Phoenix still took game one, this block was a huge play.
4.) Hakeem Olajuwon on John Starks- Game Six 1994 Finals
While this block flies a bit under the radar, it is still on this list for good reason. Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon’s game six-block proved vital. John Starks for the New York Knicks had an open shot and somehow Olajuwon managed to recover and block the shot. The block would end the game and the Rockets won 86-84 forcing a game seven. The block forced game seven, but Houston would win game seven and the NBA title. Any defensive play that wins a game and helps a team survive and win a series/title has to make the list.
3.) Bam Adebayo on Jayson Tatum- Game One 2020 East Finals
This is another big-time block that took place early in a series. In overtime, Jayson Tatum drove to the bucket and attempted a dunk to give the Celtics the lead but Bam Adebayo met him at the rim. The Heat would win the game 116-114 after the huge denial from Adebayo. Did the block guarantee the Heat would win the series? Maybe, maybe not, but it for sure got them game one.
2.) LeBron on Andre Iguodala- Game Seven 2016 Finals
This is easily one of the most iconic blocks in NBA history, not just the playoffs. The Giannis block in game one of this year’s Finals was compared to this one. LeBron had to go into a full sprint to catch Iguodala but he did it and pinned the ball to prevent the score. The block would ultimately lead to a Cavs win and an NBA title for LeBron and company. It also led to a win that completed the impossible comeback in a 3-1 series against the powerhouse Warriors. This block will stand the test of time as one of, if not the best block.
1.) Giannis on Deandre Ayton- Game Four 2021 Finals
As I mentioned before, this block is the new number one block of all-time in the playoffs and maybe all-time. This moves to number one because it could seal the deal for a Bucks team desperately in need of a title. A play that huge to tie a series cannot be ignored.
The reason this block is above LeBrons is also that Giannis blocked seven-footer Deandre Ayton face to face on an alley-oop. The amount of coordination and athleticism it takes to block someone who is catching an alley-oop is beyond normal abilities. Yes, chase-down blocks are amazing but blocking someone mid-dunk face to face is much more difficult.
LeBron on Tiago Splitter- Game Two 2013 NBA Finals
Kobe Bryant on Bonzi Wells- Game Seven 2000 West Finals
Ben Wallace on Shaquille O’Neal- Game Five 2006 East Finals
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