The blocking of shots has an undeniable effect on the outcome of an NBA game, especially during the Playoffs. Shot blocking plays a huge role in defining the pace of the game, the momentum of either team, the morale of the players and coaches, and ultimately the result of the game.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most memorable blocks in NBA history and take a look at who currently leads the Playoffs in blocks.
Definition of Blocks
Blocks can be defined as the act of pushing away an opponent’s shot attempt from either their backboard or within their restricted area. Blocks are commonly used by defensive players and defensive teams in order to stop the offensive team’s scoring opportunities. In NBA playoffs, blocks have become a vital part of strategy; they can swing the outcome of any single play and even an entire series.
3In the history of the NBA playoffs, there have been several memorable plays where players have thrown up a timely block in order to prevent a point from being scored. Often referred to as ‘block-party’ plays, these moments capture the attention of basketball fans around the world – from last second game-winners to impressive showcases of athletic ability that deny scoring attempts at every end of the court.
While ‘block-party’ plays are few and far between, certain players throughout history have consistently been able to affect opposing teams offense with impressive displays of shot blocking talent. Some standouts include Dwight Howard, who leads all active players with 206 career postseason blocks; Tim Duncan and Patrick Ewing, who are both tied for second with 133 blocks each; and DeAndre Jordan with 96 career playoff blocks so far (all stats as of 2021). Career playoff stats such as these highlight coaches’ need for quality defenders that are capable of shutting down opposing offenses when needed most – during high stakes playoff games!
Overview of The NBA Playoffs
The National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs is the annual postseason of the NBA. The most successful teams from each season compete in a tournament-style event to determine which team will be crowned with the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy and declared as champions of the league. Since its inception in 1949, an exciting selection of contests have taken place, featuring some incredible individual performances, legendary moments, and iconic plays. For example, LeBron James famously made an all-time great block in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals to secure his third championship title with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In addition to James’ historic block, there have been many other players who have had magnificent playoff performances that involved blocking shots. This article is going to provide an overview of some of the most memorable blocks throughout NBA Playoff history and identify who has led all players in blocked shots during playoff games since 1979-80 when it began tracking blocked shots per game.
Most Memorable Blocks in NBA Playoff History
Blocks are one of the most thrilling defensive plays in basketball, and there is no bigger stage for blocks than the NBA playoffs. Throughout the years, there have been some spectacular blocks which will be remembered for years to come. But who leads the NBA playoffs in blocks? Let’s take a look.
Dikembe Mutombo’s Block in The 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals
One of the most iconic blocks in NBA Playoff history was performed by Dikembe Mutombo. During the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals between the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks, Mutombo unleashed an incredible defensive play that would forever leave its mark on basketball history. With a little under one minute left in game six, the game was just about even. The Hawks were up by a point or two as Patrick Ewing drove to the rim for what appeared to be a go-ahead layup attempt. That’s when Mutombo moved into position and rose up to swat away Ewing’s would-be basket at the absolute last second. The block – and Mutombo’s signature finger wag – ignited the Atlanta crowd and sealed an 86-80 victory, putting the Hawks ahead 3-2 in their series with New York. Remarkably, this wasn’t even Mutombo’s only famous block in these playoffs alone; he had previously been a defensive difference maker against Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan as well. To date, Dikembe remains atop of all active players for most career blocks during NBA Playoffs history with 111 total blocks over five postseasons from 1993 to 1999 – a feat unmatched by any other player in NBA history since then (Tim Duncan is close behind with 109).
Tim Duncan’s Block in The 2003 NBA Finals
An undisputed iconic moment in NBA Playoff history, Tim Duncan’s block of Reggie Miller’s shot late in the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals against the Indiana Pacers was even more amazing as Duncan leapt backwards over Miller to swat away the ball. The epic block sealed the victory and gave the Spurs a 4–2 series win to claim their second championship.
Fittingly, Duncan — who holds the record for most blocks in NBA Playoff history — would tie his teammate Bruce Bowen for second on Most Memorable Blocks in NBA Playoff History list when he blocked Rasheed Wallace’s shot at an even more critical juncture, Game 5 of the 2005 Finals against Detroit. With the momentum teetering at a pivotal moment, Duncan rose up to meet Wallace high above and rip away what could have been an easy layup and kept San Antonio within striking distance. The Most Memorable Blocks in NBA Playoff History further include Dwight Howard famously wasting Kobe Bryant’s effort with a monster block during Game 4 of 2009 Finals between Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic. Howard preserved Orlando’s one-point lead by effortlessly swatting away what seemed sure to be a game-winning layup attempt by Bryant with just 0:9 seconds left on a clock. While his efforts would not ultimately save his team from defeat as Los Angeles won 4–1, Howard made sure that it wouldn’t be forgotten anytime soon. This soaring highlight helped establish him as one of greatest big men defenders ever known in league history as well as proved inspiration for many upcoming stars trying to make an impact in clutch moments on court.
LeBron James’ Block in The 2016 NBA Finals
LeBron James isn’t known as a shot blocker, but during the 2016 NBA Finals he utterly silenced doubters when he put an emphatic stop on Andre Iguodala’s layup attempt in one of the most memorable blocks in NBA playoff history. James elevated and timed his block to perfection, climbing–literally–miles above the rim to snag an uncontested dunk. It was the crowning moment of possibly LeBron’s best-ever championship performance and a powerful display of defensive awareness and athleticism. This takeaway instantly stood out as one of the defining moments of LeBron’s career and further solidified his reputation as a player not just capable but willing to do whatever it takes to win–even if it means playing MVP-caliber defense. The King’s impressive block rates among some of the all-time greatest blocked shots from legendary players such as Bill Russell, Kobe Bryant, Dikembe Mutombo, Rik Smits, etc. Although political debates may still rage about who is truly best player ever, there is no denying that this swat preserves its permanent place in history: As LeBron rose up into immortality on one play with his zenith superstardom fully ignited, he closed off an iconic season with a monumental defensive break that cemented him and his team’s title for posterity.
Who Leads The NBA Playoffs in Blocks
When it comes to the most memorable blocks in NBA Playoff history, it’s hard to beat some of the greats. Many legendary players have made their mark on the playoffs with their impressive ability to block shots. But who leads the NBA Playoffs in blocks?
Let’s take a closer look at the statistics to find out!
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the leader in blocks during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. He holds the NBA record for career blocks (3,189), which is more than any other player has ever achieved. He also holds the record for most blocks in a single NBA playoff series, when he blocked 21 shots during the 1980 finals against Philadelphia. During his 20 year career, which ended in 1989, Kareem was known both for being an integral part of a dynasty and dominating the post-up game with his tall frame and classic “skyhook” shot. His defensive presence was felt too – he ranks #1 all-time in career blocked shots, with at least 620 in 11 different seasons. His unmatched swats often came at crucial times—especially throughout his lengthy Finals runs. In 1979 Kareem rejected 9 shots as LA bested Seattle 4 games to 1; and then again in 1985, when he blocked 8 shots while helping LA beat Boston 4 games to 2. Kareem also continued to play solid defense until his final season—he rejected 6 shots against Golden State in an epic 7 game series that played out during AJ’s last campaign.
No one will ever challenge Abdul-Jabbar’s legacy as a premier rim protector on their way to ruling the court like Jabbar did for so many years. As fans watch new greats balance both offense and defense on their championship runs; memories of greats like Abdul-Jabbar are bound to live on eternally within basketball fans everywhere.
When it comes to NBA Playoffs blocks, there is no disputing the winning record of four-time All Star Tim Duncan. Since his rookie season with the San Antonio Spurs in 1997 and throughout his 19 seasons of professional play, Duncan has blocked a total of 57 shots and only allowed 20 scores. His defensive ability, known as “The Admiral”, was on full display in the 2001 Western Conference Finals when Duncan stopped Shaquille O’Neal from dunking the ball and solidified his reputation as an elite defender. In addition to these spectacular defensive moments, Duncan is also known for using blocks to help create offensive opportunities. During the 2000–01 playoffs, Tim blocked 11 shots against Portland and went on to score a total of five off those blocks, assisting his team in avoiding a first round exit against their toughest rival. This demonstrates just how much impact a great block can have on determined teams looking for any edge they can find during highly contested matchups.
Duncan’s inspiring performance on the defensive end is not to be forgotten and continues to shape many aspects of basketball strategy even after he retired from professional play in 2016. Players that come after him know that taking risks with their shot blocking abilities can be significant rewards if done correctly, allowing them to take control over momentum like Duncan did years ago.
Shaquille O’Neal, also known as “Shaq”, has long been a force to be reckoned with in the NBA playoffs. He is the all-time leader in blocks in NBA playoff history with 403 blocks, many of which have gone down as some of the most memorable blocks in playoff history. His size and power help him to battle against any player and stand out among even some of the strongest teams.
His dominance of the paint was evident during his famous block against Kobe Bryant, during which Kobe was seen attempting to drive towards the rim and Shaq blocked his shot cleanly. This sent an unforgettable shockwave through both teams as Shaq had outlasted his ex-teammate again by swatting away what seemed like an easy basket attempt and giving a powerful display of both skill and determination that led him to become a legendary figure among NBA players around the country studying his game methods for themselves.
This isn’t even close to being where Shaq’s excellence stops when it comes to defending from inside the paint when competing alongside other starting centers – so it goes without saying that he leads this statistic with ease and has set records along the way within it that no one else is close to touching yet or reaching soon either.