NBA Playoffs Awards (So Far)

After 25 days, the NBA Playoffs have gone by without too much surprise. The Cavs and Warriors have dominated and only one of the first round series went to seven games. Six teams remain standing, and here are the awards for the 2017 NBA Playoffs to this point.

Awards

Most Valuable Player: LeBron James

“Playoff LeBron” is no joke. The King has shown no mercy to the Pacers or Raptors as he has led the Cavs to a sweep in both series. So far this playoffs, he has compiled a stat line of 34.4 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game, 7.1 assists per game, 2.1 steals per game and 1.5 blocks per game. He has elevated his performance to yet another level.

Perhaps his most impressive statistics come with his efficiency. His field goal percentage currently sits at .557 percent and he is making more than 46 percent of his three point attempts.

MVP of the playoffs so far really could not go to anybody else. LeBron has absolutely dominated his opponents in the first two rounds despite the lackluster play of his supporting cast. He has put to rest criticisms of his regular season performance and undoubtedly changed the opinions of many regarding the Cavs chances against the Warriors.

Not to mention, he’s given us ridiculous highlights such as this one:

Many performers have stepped up during these playoffs, but Lebron is clearly in a class of his own.

Honorable Mentions: Kawhi Leonard, John Wall, James Harden

 

Sixth Man: Joe Johnson

Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Eric Gordon have all been fantastic presences off the bench for their teams. Iguodala has done a little bit of everything, and Williams and Gordon have added a great scoring presence on the Rockets bench. Sixth man of the playoffs, however, has to go to the guy that is the reason his team won their first series.

Iso Joe was incredible against the Clippers, bringing back memories of his prime. At least two of the Jazz’ wins have to be attributed to Joe Johnson. This game winner in game one pretty much says it all.

Although his time in the playoffs has come to an end, Joe Johnson earned this one.

Honorable Mentions: Eric Gordon, Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams

 

Rookie: Taurean Prince

No other rookies have really had much of an impact in the playoffs besides Malcolm Brogdon and Taurean Prince. In six games against the Raptors, Brogdon put up 9 points per game while averaging 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest.

In six games against the Wizards, prince put up 11.2 points per game while averaging 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per contest.

Brogdon has has a promising year, and he capped it off with a promising first playoff appearance. He logged more than 30 minutes per game while the Bucks did their best as the underdogs. He also made a stellar 10 of his 21 three point attempts.

Prince did not have as good of a regular season as Brogdon. His minutes doubled during the postseason, and he was able to take advantage of the increase in playing time. It is his defense, however, that lands him the title of best rookie for the playoffs. Prince played great defense against wings and guards, and played with a high intensity throughout the series. During Game 4, he had this impressive block on John Wall:

This playoffs have been lacking in rookie performance. The only other player who had a chance to compete was Jaylen Brown, and his minutes have dropped significantly during the postseason. Brogdon and Prince both had impressive series, but Prince’s impact on his team lands him the top spot.

Honorable Mentions: Malcolm Brogdon

 

Coach: Mike D’Antoni

Coaching has not seemed to play a huge role in the playoffs so far. The Cavs are dominating the Eastern Conference, and Tyron Lue has let Playoff Lebron do much of the work. The Warriors are dominating the Western Conference, and Steve Kerr has been out with a back injury.

Meanwhile, high profile coaches like Billy Donovan and Doc Rivers struggled mightily in the first round. Even NBA wizard Greg Popovich struggled mightily with adjustments against the Grizzlies.

All Mike D’Antoni has had to do to get this title is continue the Rockets’ regular season success. D’Antoni has shown once again that his offense first scheme can be successful in the playoffs. And so far D’Antoni has gone toe to toe with Greg Popovich in the second round.

Special honorable mention has to be given to David Fizdale of the Grizzlies. As a rookie head coach, Fizdale and the Grizzlies kept up with the Spurs despite being overmatched. And, he gave us this instantly legendary press conference after Game 2:

However, until a truly remarkable coaching performance can upend this spot, it belongs to D’Antoni.

Honorable Mention: David Fizdale

 

Defensive Player: Draymond Green

This one really isn’t much of a contest. Draymond’s defense was insane against the Trailblazers. He switched effortlessly from centers to guards, and has now anchored a defensive unit to two consecutive sweeps. He has 21 blocks in 8 games so far (for comparison, Rudy Gobert has 11 blocks in 8 games.) End of discussion. Draymond is in a league of his own right now.

Honorable Mentions: Rudy Gobert, Clint Capela, Lebron James

 

All-NBA Playoffs Teams

All-NBA First Team

John Wall: Wall has been absolutely unstoppable for the Wizards. He’s scoring more than 10 more points than his career playoff high while keeping his assist numbers steady. He’s been an elite playmaker and scorer, and his defense has been very solid.

James Harden: While his numbers are down from the regular season, James Harden has been great in the playoffs. He is averaging 30 points per game, and his team is two games away from the Western Conference finals. Although he hasn’t quite played to his potential, he’s still been one of the best guards.

Lebron James: See above.

Kawhi Leonard: Kawhi Leonard has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Spurs. He’s had to do just about everything to ensure victory so far, and he leads the playoffs in win shares as a result. His efficiency has also been remarkable. Kawhi and Lebron have been far and away the best two players of the playoffs.

Draymond Green: See above.

 

All-NBA Second Team

Steph Curry: The Warriors have breezed through their first two opponents, and Curry hasn’t had to play out of his mind to ensure success. Nevertheless, he’s put up some impressive stats and is shooting well from the field.

Chris Paul: Chris Paul could not have done more to help the Clippers win their series against the Jazz. After Blake Griffin went down, Paul stepped up. He ended up averaging 25.3 points and 9.9 assists per game. The Clippers may have fallen short, but Chris Paul deserves none of the blame.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: In his first playoff appearance, the Greek Freak continued to show the world that he is legit. 24.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Not bad.

Gordon Hayward: Hayward has put up an efficient 24 points a game while leading the Jazz to the second round. Though his fate was sealed against the Warriors, Hayward put up a great playoff season in a contract year.

Rudy Gobert: The center position is weak, so Gobert makes the second team despite missing games. Gobert played well on both ends of the floor for the Jazz while adding 11 points and 9 rebounds per game.

 

All-NBA Third Team

Russell Westbrook: Westbrook had a 47 percent usage rate. Sheesh. Nonetheless, he kept the Thunder close most games before getting gassed in the fourth quarter. And a playoff stat line of 37.8 points per game, 11.6 rebounds per game and 10.8 assists per game can’t be ignored.

Mike Conley: Conley did everything he could to keep the Grizzlies close with the Spurs. He averaged 24 points per game while shooting 44% from the three point line. The Spurs were the better team, but Conley came out with something to prove in the series. Needless to say, he proved it.

Jimmy Butler: Butler didn’t have his most efficient series against the Celtics, but he was clearly the best player on the floor during the series. He played well on both sides of the ball, and kept the series much closer than it could’ve been.

Paul Millsap: The Hawks were outed in 6 games against the Wizards, but Millsap had a fantastic series. He put up his playoff career high in points per game with 24.3 while making more than 50% of his field goals. He also added his career high in assists per game.

Clint Capela: Capela has been a solid producer for the Rockets. In a playoff field that lacks in strong big men, he has put up more than 10 points and 8 rebounds per game. He also has 24 blocks in 9 games, and is third in the league in defensive win shares.

 

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Western Conference Playoff Preview

Western Conference Playoff Preview

The second season is finally upon us. It is the time of year that all NBA fans have been salivating for all season.

Can anybody upset the Warriors, or will they cruise to another finals appearance? Who will win the duel between Brodie and the Beard? Buckle up for a fun battle out west. Here is the Western Conference Playoff preview.

1 Golden State Warriors vs. 8 Portland Trailblazers

Western Conference Playoff Preview

(Photo Credit: http://theargonautnews.com

The Warriors have been slowly waiting for the playoffs all season. Golden State finished with the best record in the NBA and will be trying to make their third consecutive finals appearance. Kevin Durant is back from his injury just around the same time Steph Curry has found his groove.

Portland has gone an impressive 11-4 over their last 15 games to push themselves into the playoffs as the eighth seed. The Trailblazers have a great backcourt, but the Warriors are just too loaded. There isn’t much Portland will be able to do to stop the Warriors’ high powered offense.

This will be a short series, and Golden State will be on to bigger and better things.

Prediction: Warriors in 4

2 San Antonio Spurs vs. 7 Memphis Grizzlies

Western Conference Playoff Preview

(Photo Credit: http://theargonautnews.com)

It is hard to imagine a Spurs versus Grizzlies playoff series without Tim Duncan. These two franchises have gone at it many times in the past playoffs to provide some thrilling action for the fans.

This series is likely to play out similarly to their two previous postseason meetings in which the Spurs have swept the Grizzlies. Memphis has the same core that hasn’t gotten over the hump and this year they are barely above .500.

San Antonio is still a well-oiled machine led by the best two-way player in the league, Kawhi Leonard. Gregg Popovich will have his team ready, and the Spurs will find themselves in the Western Conference Semi-Finals rather quickly.

Prediction: Spurs in 5 

3 Houston Rockets vs. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder

Western Conference Playoff Preview

(Photo Credit: https://www.si.com/nba

This is easily the most exciting matchup of the first round in the Western Conference.

The storylines are never ending in this series. Russell Westbrook versus James Harden. The two players going head to head for the MVP go head to head in the playoffs. Westbrook is trying to lead his team against all odds. Harden will be trying to eliminate his former team. The hype is real for this one.

The Rockers went 3-1 against the Thunder, but three of the four games were decided by three points or less. Houston has the deeper team, but Oklahoma City has the advantage inside. Basketball slows down in the playoffs, giving the Thunder an advantage.

This will be a long and entertaining series. Westbrook is going to be gunning for heads in this year’s playoffs. His remarkable season will continue into the second round.

Prediction: Thunder in 7

4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. 5 Utah Jazz

Western Conference Playoff Preview

(Photo Credit: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Clippers are under more pressure than any team in the first round of the playoffs. They have not lived up to the hype in recent years and health has been one of the biggest excuses.

This is no excuse this year. The Clippers are healthy and experienced while the Jazz are inexperienced. Los Angeles also has the home-court advantage in this series.

The Clippers dominated the Jazz in the regular season, winning three out of the four matchups by a combined 42 points. Utah doesn’t have the firepower to win this series on paper, but Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward could play well enough to upset the Clippers. Chris Paul, Black Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will not last long in L.A. if they lose this series.

The experience will be the difference in this one, and the Clippers will avoid being bounced in the first round, but just barely.

Prediction: Clippers in 7

You can check out the Eastern Conference Playoff Preview here.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Haus Specials: NBA Game Winners

New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks

With the Knicks up by 14 at the start of the fourth quarter, it looked as if New York would come away with the win. Giannis Antetokounmpo had other plans. He scored 12 points in the final quarter, making three of his six shots. This insane step-back jumper sealed the deal. Greek. Freak.

Philadelphia 76er vs New York Knicks

Trust the Process. The Philadelphia 76ers have awed fans this season with their feisty, rejuvenated play. They’ve been competitive and fun. They played that same way against the Knicks. It was a four-point game in the Knickerbockers’ favor. Carmelo Anthony’s scoreless fourth quarter didn’t help and set the stage for a backbreaking game winner.

Utah Jazz vs OKC Thunder

Division Rivals. Steven Adams and Rudy Gobert. Russell Westbrook triple double. This game had it all. A seesaw affair with 16 lead changes made for an entertaining game. However, it was clunky at some points. Westbrook missed all of his shots in the third quarter. The last frame saw big shot after big shot though. Russ had the biggest one, hitting a mid-range jumper to put the Thunder up for good with 1.7 seconds left.

Miami Heat vs Golden State Warriors

Waiters Island is now open for vacation purposes. Dion Waiters scored over 30 points for a second consecutive game. This one tied his career high with 33 points. He may have hit the biggest shot of his career, holding off the Warriors and ending their seven-game win streak. Happy Birthday Dion.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Changing the Hack-a-Shaq Rule is a Flagrant Foul

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made a statement during the 2016 playoffs about banning the hack-a-Shaq strategy, saying, “Not only is that something that is bad for our network partners, but for all of the fan research we have shows that the fans hate it.” (reports ESPN).

This would be a terrible move for the game of basketball. Sure, the casual fan may hate it, but what they should really be irritated about is the player shooting the free throws who can’t make them. There are a couple of good things that a rule forbidding this strategy would bring to the game, but I believe that the effects of this rule drastically change the game of basketball long term for the worse.Positives
1) As commissioner Silver alluded to, it makes for hard to watch basketball. Fouling the opposition’s weakest free throw shooter in order to interrupt the flow of the game, and forcing the weak link to make two shots from the charity stripe, makes for very boring basketball I will admit. A rule discontinuing this strategy would keep the game in motion and force opponents to beat the other team without resorting to hack-a-(insert bad free throw shooter here).
2) A rule created to prevent hack-a-Shaq tactics could bring back the importance of the old school NBA centers. In recent memory, old school type centers have not gone very high in the draft, as the game has evolved into a faster paced game of shooting and life above the rim. Traditional centers are known to play ten feet from the rim with their back to the basket, which half of the time results in them going to the free throw line due to the large amount of physicality a player experiences as they get closer to the rim. A rule change would keep NBA centers like Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond and other centers shooting sub 60% from the line, from being benched in tight game situations, making for more competitive and undisputed outcomes.

Negatives
1) A rule change would only help about a handful of players, all of them centers. That’s like introducing a 4 point line for sharp shooters like Steph Curry, when no more than a handful could make that shot on a consistent basis. Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond all attempted over 450 free throws in the 2015-16 NBA season, and all of them shot below 50%; Drummond and Jordan were both top 5 in the league in free throw attempts and shot 36% (Drummond) and 43% (Jordan). All three of those guys were on playoff teams this past season, hence why Silver wants to eliminate the tactic all together; it affected the NBA’s ratings. There were no more centers or players at other positions in the past season that attempted more than 400 shots and shot below 60% from the charity stripe; the next 3 centers that had the most free throw attempts, while shooting below 60%, shot 225 free throws (Rudy Gobert 57%, John Henson 59%, and Nerlens Noel 59%). In a league that has over 400 players, to accommodate for only a handful of players seems rather pitiful and sad.
2) Enforcing a rule of this nature would take away importance of a fundamental of basketball skill; shooting. Creating a rule banning the strategy would send a message to all future NBA hopefuls that shooting free throws isn’t as important as putting on a show, which would allow for more bad free throw shooters. Sure, shooting free throws will still be important in crunch time moments, but let me give you a scenario: under the proposed rule change, with the poor free throw shooting centers in the game, who is most likely to be involved in the offense to try and win the game? As soon as the ball would get anywhere near their hands, they can expect hard contact and force the referee to call a foul to send the player to the line and, based on his bad percentage from that part of the court, will miss one if not both of those shots. When that happens, fans will wonder “why did the coach have him in the game in such a tight situation?” The opposition will still find a way to expose the weakness of these players which makes for bad television and makes fans feel like their team didn’t play their best, because their team put in a bad free throw shooter at such a pivotal moment in the game. The fans will then notice after a while that many younger players will shoot poorly from the free throw line. Teams and coaches have often planned for and against other teams whether or not they have a bad free throw shooting center on their team; they know that the player is a liability and doesn’t give them the best chance to win. The result of the rule would be a lack of importance on practicing free throws and shooting form.

I apologize to Adam Silver, but I am calling a flagrant foul on him for what would be the first huge mistake in his reign as commissioner. I know what some of you may be thinking; “Oh you’re just afraid of change,” when actually, I am not, I just know what makes for great basketball, and missing so many free throws is a stain on the purity that can be shown on the court. The bottom line is: Make your free throws so fans don’t pity you and a commissioner has to try and bail you out.

The Game Haus Play Of The Week – 3/28/16

Although March Madness focuses on the NCAA, we must not forget the professional level of basketball and that is the NBA. Without the NBA, athletes from top basketball programs would not be able to work toward a lifelong dream of playing for such a team to further expand their career. Needless to say, these NBA teams are currently playing for a playoff spot that will begin April 16, 2016 for a chance to reach the NBA Finals.
Sure, these athletes of the NBA are highly talented individuals and are very skilled at what they do. However, most of them are very cautious on the court to not only prevent themselves from injury, but from blocking a shot that is well out of their range. After all, sometimes a particular shot by a player is more than just points on the scoreboard. In fact, it is a sense of trash talking that is very well respected by players and fans that continues to add further appreciation to the sport of professional basketball.
Without further adieu, The Game Haus Play of the Week is just that. It involves two athletes who are utilizing their athletic skills to the best of their ability. One player is trying to increase their teams’ lead while the other is trying to prevent that exact revelation. Nevertheless, it makes for an extraordinary play. Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves came out of nowhere down the lane to simply land a dunk on Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. Wiggins was successful as Gobert stepped back to accept his fate. It is without a doubt an impressive dunk.
In case you missed it, here it is:
https://youtu.be/nDAcxvH8pek
If you would like to talk more about this amazing dunk, come meet me and others in the forum.To nominate a play of the week, please post your entries on our FacebookTwitter and Instagram Pages. Perhaps your selection will get chosen for next week’s “Play of the Week.”

Congrats to Carter McEachern for choosing this week’s play of the week.