In the first week of the playoffs we have seen stars do what stars do. Kevin Durant’s heroic shots, Kobe catching fire, LeBron dominating, even Boston’s big two standing tall when they needed to most. Each and every playoff series has been exciting, with close games, great physicality, and great competitiveness. And the stars have proven that they are the best players on their respective teams.
5) Kevin Garnett
KG has been essential in the Celtics taking a 2-1 lead over the Hawks in the first round. He has been a man amongst boys, rebounding just about everything, and scoring in a variety of ways. The 35 year old has be playing like a young gun and has been helping the Celtics fight through these playoffs.
4) Kobe Bryant/ Andrew Bynum
Both of these studs have been helping each other carry the large load that is the Lakers. Kobe has been himself throughout the playoffs scoring at will and shooting 44% throughout this series against Denver. Bynum has been playing his best basketball in this first week. He has been a beast in the paint, using his combo of size and skill to take advantage of the smaller Nuggets forwards. They’re up 2-1 in the series, although they were beaten pretty good last night, they have been playing very well.
3) Lebron James
LeBron has been LeBron in this series against the Knicks. And the Knicks may be the only reason I have him at #3. He has had one hell of a series and has been proving his haters wrong by playing extremely well in the 4th quarter. LeBron has heard all the jokes and it hasn’t seemed to bother his play at all this season. Despite the breathless criticism that he vanishes in fourth quarters, his player efficiency rating (PER) in the fourth quarter (33.1) is much higher than his overall PER this season (30.8). LeBron has been playing well, I just want to see him do it against an actual team.
2) Paul Pierce
I think the most remarkable thing about Pierce these playoffs is the amount of minutes he has been logging. He has been averaging 44.3 minutes per game and 45 minutes per game in both of their wins over the Hawks. At age 34, Pierce is showing that he can still be an elite scorer in the NBA. He has made big shot after big shot in the Celtics series against the Hawks. In game 2, he led the Rondo-less Celtics back from a 14 point deficit in the 2nd half to get the win. Pierce has been the main reason the Celtics are up 2-1 in this opening series.
1) Kevin Durant
Durant has been stellar in the Thunder’s opening series against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. Although he has not been shooting as well as normal, he has stepped up in big situations. He hit the game winning shot in game 1 with 1.5 seconds remaining, and hit big shots in crunch time in game 2. Game 3 was a blowout and Durant was the main reason. He shot 11-15 from the floor, scoring 31 points in a 93-75 win. It just shows when Durant is playing well, the Thunder might be the toughest team to beat in the NBA.