WE are nearly at the extremely pointy end of the season with just six teams left in the NBA Playoffs. With the Cavs and Dubs successfully completing back-to-back series sweeps, and two other series locked at 2-2, plenty of players have lifted their game to new heights in the 2017 postseason. Now the bad news, plenty of players have forgotten how to basketball and have been detrimental to their squads championship aspirations. Who fits in which category?
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THE postseason MVP to date, Isaiah Thomas has excelled for the Celtics. The box score might not look super impressive, but Thomas has had to deal with the death of his sister, having his teeth knocked out and is rumoured to be playing with a fractured jaw. Yet he still barrels his 5’8″ frame into giants a foot taller than him to lead the Celtics on another deep playoff run. Heart over height, take a bow Isaiah.
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The Cavs/Dubs Trilogy
FOR the first time in NBA history two teams are 8-0 heading into the Conference Finals. Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are head and shoulders above their conference counterparts and a 3rd straight meeting this year in the Finals between the two squads seems inevitable.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Future MVP Prospects
THERE was no denying Giannis’ growth and development this season, and heading into 2017/18 he will be one of the most talked about players. Almost dragging his Bucks into the 2nd round with his go-go gadget arms, the 22 year old phenom brings new meaning to the phrase ‘Fear the Deer’. The sky is the limit for Antetokounmpo next year and an MVP calibre season is highly unlikely, but not impossible.
LET me go on record and say I don’t like Draymond Green (as a Cavs fan can you blame me?). That doesn’t mean I don’t respect Draymond Green though. Dude’s playing out of his mind in the first two series of the playoffs. The swiss army knife helps the Warriors in whatever capacity they need whether it be as a playmaker, defensive stopper or a little bit of everything. Shooting over 50% from the floor AND from three with nine boards, six assists with a pair of steals and blocks each night highlights the versatility of their star forward.
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ALDRIDGE is a five time All-Star and has been in an All NBA team four times. How the hell does a player of that calibre put up four points in a playoff game?! In my 2nd round playoff preview I highlighted how important it was for the Spurs to establish a number two guy to help Kawhi Leonard on offense. Aldridge could have been that guy, instead (with the exception of 26 points in Game 3) he has stunk it up.
OFFENSIVE juggernaut. That was the label given to Houston in the regular season as they came close to pacing the league in scoring with 115.3 PPG (2nd only to the Dubs 115.9 PPG). Instead of kicking things up a notch in the playoffs they are now scoring a almost four points fewer with MVP candidate James Harden one of the main offenders. If Harden (42% from the field, 29% for three) can recapture numbers that mirror his regular season output (44% from the field, 35% from three) then it may help kickstart his teammates shooting troubles too (Ryan Anderson I’m looking at you). This can be the small difference the Rockets need to get past the Spurs and to the conference finals.
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The Raptors All-Stars
WHILE it may seem harsh to get on DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry’s back’s the fact of the matter is they failed to deliver. Both players output dipped noticeably and if the Raptors were going to stand a chance against LeBron and co, they needed their big guns to be on point. Their shortcomings may lead to the end of the most successful chapter in Toronto’s history, which would be a shame considering all the good Lowry and DeRozan have achieved.
Los Angeles Clippers
I wanted the Clippers to achieve success SOOOO bad this time around. For whatever reason though they entered the playoffs and, yet again, were handed an early series loss. The injury to Blake Griffin not only hurt their chances for the series, but posed a great deal of uncertainty around the team heading into a crucial off-season.