April 28, 2018, 1:46 amRussell WestbrookG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook went off on the Jazz on Friday night with 46 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and seven 3-pointers but it wasn’t enough as the Thunder’s season came to an end in Game 6.
A tip of the hat is in order for Muscle Flexbrook. With OKC’s back against the wall in consecutive games, Russ scored 91 total points. Granted, he took 82 shots but those 91 points are still mighty impressive. We’ll now enter months of hot takes on the Thunder not being able to win a title with Westbrook as its best player or his triple-doubles being an empty stat. No matter what your stance on Westbrook may be, he put the team on his back for these final two games and did absolutely everything he could to keep the Thunder alive as long as he could before what’s sure to be another stressful, complicated summer in Oklahoma City.
April 28, 2018, 1:17 amDonovan MitchellG, Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell had his way with the Thunder on Friday night to the tune of 38 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and five 3-pointers in the Jazz’s series-ending Game 6 win.
Maybe he’s the Rookie of the Year. Maybe he’s not. Either way, you can’t take anything away from this rookie absolutely stealing the show in his first career playoff series, burying a team with much higher expectations. Mitchell averaged 28.5 points for the series but saved his best shooting performance for last, sending OKC home with 14-of-26 from the field and 5-of-8 from deep. He’s a matchup nightmare for anybody and it won’t be easy for the team with the best record in the NBA to slow him down in the next round.
April 27, 2018, 10:28 pmVictor OladipoSG/G, Indiana Pacers
Victor Oladipo was unconscious on Friday night, dropping a triple-double of 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists to go with four steals and six 3-pointers in the Pacers’ huge Game 6 win over the Cavs.
Oladipo couldn’t find his shot in the last three games of this series, especially in these last two losses to Cleveland. But with the Pacers’ backs against the wall, the expected Most Improved Player put on a magnificent performance, hitting 11-of-19 from the floor and 6-of-8 from deep. Oladipo was quite simply the best player on the floor and that’s no small feat when you share a basketball court with LeBron James. He led the Pacers in scoring, rebounding and assists, becoming the third player in franchise history to post a playoff triple-double. More importantly though, Oladipo and the Pacers kept their season alive and forced a Game 7.
April 26, 2018, 1:39 amJames HardenSG, Houston Rockets
James Harden finished with 24 points, 12 assists, five rebounds, two steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers in the Rockets' 18-point win over the Wolves on Wednesday night.
Take away Harden's rough Game 2 and you find an excellent series from the probable MVP. Not only is he using his usual unbelievable offensive game but he's doing it at the other end too. In this five-gamer, the Beard averaged 2.4 steals and 1.2 blocks and if his defense is going to be at that level for the rest of the playoffs, we could be seeing that Rockets shade of red deep into June.
April 26, 2018, 1:16 amJimmy ButlerSG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Jimmy Butler scored only eight points to go with five rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block in the Wolves' 122-104 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday night.
If you're searching for the key to the Wolves' success, look no further than Butler. In Minnesota's lone victory in this series, Butler had his only game with better than 50 percent shooting and only game with more than 20 points scored. Beyond that, it was a forgetful series for Jimmy Buckets and the rest of the team for that matter. Butler sat the fourth quarter of Game 5 with soreness in his surgically repaired knee and that shows Minnesota's problem in a nutshell. If Butler doesn't go down, the Wolves' season is likely different as they were on pace to grab the West's 3-seed before the injury. Here's to seeing a healthy Jimmy Butler for all of next season and a dangerous Minnesota squad with some playoff experience under their belt in 2019.
April 26, 2018, 12:21 amPaul GeorgeSF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Paul George scored 34 points and added eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers in the Thunder’s 107-99 win over the Jazz on Wednesday night.
Russ put on a performance for the ages in the second half but OKC still doesn’t get the job done without the appearance of Playoff P. The Thunder may be trailing 3-2 but George has taken his share of the scoring load throughout the series, failing to reach 20 points only once. His defense was improved in the second half, helping to shut the Jazz down while the Thunder finished the game by outscoring Utah 61-28 over the final 20 minutes.
April 26, 2018, 12:09 amRussell WestbrookPG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook took over on Wednesday night with 45 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and five 3-pointers in the Thunder's huge 107-99 victory over the Jazz.
No matter how you feel about Westbrook, this performance was so impressive. The Thunder appeared to be toast at halftime, down 15. Utah's lead climbed all the way to 25 with under nine minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Westbrook proceeded to put the team and the city on his back, scoring 33 of his 45 points in the final 20 minutes of the game. Absolutely electric performance from the MVP but he'll need two more of those to put the Jazz away for good.
April 25, 2018, 10:28 pmJohn WallPG, Washington Wizards
John Wall scored 26 points and added nine rebounds and nine assists but it wasn't enough as the Wizards fell on Wednesday.
Wall did everything he could but the Wizards were just outlasted in a close contest. If there is any hope for the Wizards to pull off an upset by winning Game 6 and then coming back and winning in Toronto in Game 7 then Wall will have to be at his very best. Additionally, the depth players will have to really be special as well because there just wasn't enough help in this one.
April 25, 2018, 9:58 pmDelon WrightPG, Toronto Raptors
Delon Wright showed up to push the Raptors over the hump with 18 points, five rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes off the bench on Wednesday.
In the absence of Fred VanVleet, Wright has been thrust into an important bench scoring role in this series. After struggling in the last couple games, he really was a catalyst for the Raptors as they held on at home. This probably gives the Raptors an option to take it easy with VanVleet's injury. Wright will have to be a big factor in Game 6 to close out the series.
April 25, 2018, 9:55 pmLeBron JamesSF, Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James scored 44 points including a game-winning 3-pointer in the Cavs’ Game 5 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday night.
James added 10 rebounds, eight assists, a steal and a block that gave the Cavs the ball with 3.0 seconds remaining in a 95-95 game. From there, it was LeBron’s stage to take over and hit the big game-winner to give Cleveland a 3-2 lead. This was a classic playoff performance from the King and not one that people will soon forget. It’ll be tough for the Pacers to recover in Friday’s Game 6. When LeBron gets this kind of momentum going in a playoff series, that’s typically a wrap.
April 22, 2018, 11:54 pmDomantas SabonisPF/C, Indiana Pacers
Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 19 points on Sunday, hitting 9-of-12 from the field to go with six rebounds and a 3-pointer in 25 minutes of work.
Sabonis was excellent, and half of his boards came on the offensive glass. He's being used completely differently than he was in Oklahoma City a year ago, and Sabonis looks like a budding young star now that he's being played to his strengths. His game (and foul trouble) kept Myles Turner off the floor for much of the night, though he was no slouch himself with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting in just 23 minutes. With Kevin Love dealing with a thumb issue, the Pacers are quickly developing a major edge in the frontcourt this series.
April 22, 2018, 11:34 pmLeBron JamesSF/PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James continued his dominance in Sunday's tight road victory, playing a whopping 46 minutes while producing 32 points (12-of-22 from the field, 8-of-9 from the line), 13 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks.
The Pacers did James some favors in the second half when they opted to run some ISO possessions, giving LeBron a chance to stand idly away from the action and get some rest. Fatigue will eventually set in here, though LeBron at even 90 percent is going to be miles and miles better than other players on their very best days. He also had to deal with some more Lance Stephenson antics tonight, but delivered a win for the Cavs to keep their season afloat. A few role players stepped up tonight, so we'll see if they've entered LeBron's circle of trust as the Cavs are involved in an incredibly tight matchup. Cleveland will look to take their first lead of the series in Game 5.
April 22, 2018, 9:21 pmJohn WallPG, Washington Wizards
John Wall finished Sunday's 106-98 victory with 27 points, six rebounds, 14 assists and three steals.
The Wizards are now knotted at two in this series and have won eight straight home games in the postseason. All the pressure has shifted back to Toronto with that knowledge floating around, and if the Wizards keep the good times rolling they'll be in for a major upset. Wall still takes some questionable shots but has had monstrous numbers through the series' first four games, so fantasy players won't ask him to do anything differently.
April 22, 2018, 9:07 pmDeMar DeRozanSG, Toronto Raptors
DeMar DeRozan scored 35 points in Sunday's loss but saw his efficiency go down the tubes as the game wore on.
DeRozan made 12 trips to the free throw line in the first quarter but only ended up 14-of-18 from the line. The referees made a fairly atrocious call to end Bradley Beal's night with five minutes left in the game and then responded by letting all sorts of contact go whenever DeRozan drove to the rack in the game's final minutes. The fact that he shot 10-of-29 cannot be ignored, and while he missed some shots he usually makes, DeRozan also looked like older versions of himself and got tunnel vision down the stretch. He rounded out his line with six rebounds and six assists. While DeRozan will definitely have some things to say about the whistle in the fourth, he simply has to stick to the script and avoid the old brand of hero ball. Officiating aside, the Raptors only scored eight points in the final 7:40. That just can't happen.
April 22, 2018, 6:36 pmLaMarcus AldridgePF/C, San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge posted 22 points, 10 rebounds, a steal, a block and three triples in Sunday's 103-90 win over the Warriors.
The Spurs are pretty overmatched in this series but if they're to bring it back for Game 6, it'll be on the back of another big night from Aldridge. He's enjoyed a nice resurgence this year with Kawhi Leonard out of action and will be leaned on for the duration on San Antonio's playoff run. The fact that he's doing his damage as teams really only need to key on him is a testament to his play this year.