Top 20 Plays of the Playoffs (So Far)
It's been kind of a weird Playoffs to date. The clear majority of the series have been kind of nondescript and lacking in suspense. But the ones which have been good - notably Warriors-Mavs, Cavs-Pistons, and Spurs-Suns - have been all-timers in terms of drama.
As such, my highly subjective list of the Top 20 plays of the Playoffs so far include a full 6 Warriors clips from the Mavs series and 5 more from LeBron alone vs. the Pistons (prob. could have even had a couple more).
These Playoffs really have been all about Baron and Bron-Bron (though in the end, they'll really have been all about Timmy, of course...).
Alright, without further ado, here are our Top 20+ so far:
20. Spurs-Jazz: S.A. bounce pass beauties (Games 1-2)
I know, the punchline writes itself - the only way the Spurs can make the highlight reel is with bounce passes. Still, as much as everyone talks about their D, they really shredded the Jazz with some beautiful O. Here are three gorgeous bounce passes to get us going:
Parker goes through the wickets on Okur
Duncan finds a rolling Oberto with a one-hand rocket
Ginobili hits a cutting Parker
19. Jazz-Warriors: Derek Fisher 3 (Game 2)
Fisher's "Willis Reed moment" seals Game 2 in OT, after he arrived from NY midway through the third quarter.
18. Warriors-Mavs: Jason Richardson dunk-steal-three (Game 6)
J-Rich adds insult to injury as G.S. pours it on at the end of the series-clinching Game 6.
17. Cavs-Nets: Pavlovic blocks Kidd
I give extra credit based on game situation - that's why Sasha makes the list here. He was protecting a 77-73 lead late in the 4th when he chased down Kidd to make a Tayshaunesque block on what appeared to be a sure two.
16. Warriors-Jazz: Baron 360 (Game 3)
The first of three straight by the Warriors. Spectacular play by Baron, though Tirico was a bit premature in calling it "Shot of the Night"....
15. Warriors-Mavs: J-Rich's reverse flip (Game 3)
Richardson pulls out the D-Wade/Jordan-style acrobatics with the over-the-head shot.
14. Warriors-Mavs: Barnes dunks over Dirk (Game 6)
"Here's Barnes. Oh! A facial!!! Over... Nowitzki." Why can't Marv call every game?
13. Cavs-Pistons: LeBron's game-winner (Game 5)
Probably about his 8th-best play of the night, but the magnitude of the moment gets it into the Top 20.
12. Spurs-Suns: Nash no-look
Stevie with eyes in the back of his head on an insane pass to Amare.
11. Spurs-Suns: Nash behind-the-back in the clutch
As a pass, this is not nearly as impressive as the last one. But again, the moment trumps it - this is one of two straight plays where Nashy went behind-the-back in the halfcourt O in a one-point game late in the fourth Q. I mean, c'mon.
10. Warriors-Mavs: Baron from halfcourt (Game 4)
Usually I'm not that big on halfcourt shots - OK, it's nice, but it's pretty much luck as much as skill at a certain point. But this one just had so much going for it - the rhythm of Baron's catch-step-release, the fact that it was a huge deflating shot in what turned out to be a 4-point game, the crowd, the reaction....
9. Warriors-Mavs: Baron end-to-end (Game 4)
I'm probably overrating this one, a buzzer-beater from the 3rd quarter of the same game, but whatever, I just dig it. It's more of a basketball play than the halfcourt halftime shot - it's just so scrappy as Baron works for the steal and then goes on the frantic run to beat the clock. And you can't really beat that Game 4 crowd in Oakland.
8. Nets-Raptors: Kidd-Vince reverse alley-oop (Game 3)
I'm not that big of a Vince Carter guy - I think he's soft and I can't ever forgive him for how he dogged his way out of Toronto. But I mean, look, his head is at the rim. And he gets extra points for executing the reverse.
7. Cavs-Pistons: LeBron reverse dunk (Game 2)
Still, if we're talking reverses, this one in the halfcourt O gets the edge. First, Bron gives it a little bit of a Dr. J cradle as he drives in, and then he gives it a little bit of an extra Kemp/Nique/Classic Vince double-clutch before reversing it with power. A gorgeous dunk.
6. Cavs-Pistons: LeBron fallaway 3 (Game 5)
I give this one a slight edge over the deep pullup two while going hard to the right, the behind-the-back pullup over Billups from the top of the key, and the deep fadeaway two over Prince. Why? Well, it's a 3 on the move over a double-team... while trailing 107-104 late in the second OT, after he's played 50 minutes. Too damn good. (Couldn't find this one on its own, so it's No. 2 on the Top 5 LeBron plays of Game 5 below:)
5. Warriors-Mavs: Baron-JRich half-court alleyoop (Game 5)
This, to me, is Warriors basketball personified. You're up 104-102 with about five minutes left in a huge, tense Game 5 on the road where you can close out the No. 1 seed. Normally, this is the time for, as Charles might say, tight sphincters galore. What do the W's do? Half-court alley, baby.
4. Pistons-Bulls: Flip dunks over Hinrich
A little bit Chambers, a little bit Ricky D on this one. And Flip gives it the stare to show the Philly in him. I love the few seconds of silence, punctuated by Hubie with "Did he use a trampoline?"
3. Cavs-Pistons: LeBron with the big dunk (Game 5)
Sheer explosion at a crucial moment - down 88-87 in the final minute of regulation. "LeBron with the step and stuffs!" Did we mention that we love Marv?
2. Cavs-Pistons: LeBron posterizes Sheed (Game 4)
We broke down how Rasheed was really culpable in not protecting the basket during LeBron's 25 straight in Game 5 - I really think that taking this dunk made him gun-shy, and also, all of the criticism that he took for a leaving a shooter (Big Shot Bob) open on the perimeter in the 2005 Finals was in the back of his head, too. But forget the psychoanalysis, just enjoy the dunk (at a big moment - 68-68 midway through the 4th):
1. Warriors-Jazz: Baron lowers the Boom Dizzle on AK47 (Game 3)
Come on. What else were you expecting. Again, I like the Hubie interjection: "Hello". And the goofy, T-earning celebration. It's gotta be the beard.