Monday, June 12, 2017

Top 10 Moments of the 2017 NBA Playoffs

As I mentioned in my list for notable regular season moments, I originally intended to make a list for playoffs moments once the playoffs ends – that means after the Finals.  But since a lot of fun stuff has been going on the Finals, I think its notable moments deserve a list of their own.  Hence, this “notable playoffs moments” list just covers the first three rounds of the 2017 NBA playoffs.

10.) When John Wall Hit a Gutsy Gamewinning 3-pointer, Forcing Game 7 in the East Semis
John Wall only shot 9-of-25 that game, but he was able to nail the shot that mattered most.  Down by two and facing elimination, Wall received the ball for the Wizards’ last possession.  With Avery Bradley – probably the Celtics’ best defender – on him, Wall hit a trey with 3.5 seconds remaining, which turned out being the gamewinner.
The C’s would eventually win Game 7, but in this particular moment, Wall displayed impressive cool-under-pressure confidence.

9.) LeBron James’ Laser Beam Pass From the Mid-Court Logo
Imagine your preferred “sci-fi laser beam” sound effect with this GIF to optimize the awesomeness of this pass.

8.) When Tiny Mighty I.T. Had a Monster Game
Shortly before the start of the playoffs, Isaiah Thomas’ younger sister died tragically.  Game 2 of the second round series between the Celtics and the Wizards fell on the day that would have been her 23rd birthday, the 5’9 Thomas chose to honor her by scoring 53 and leading his team to a 129-119 OT victory.  Along the way, he had an epic point guard duel with John Wall (who also had a phenomenal game), and embarrassed the Wizards’ bigs when they switched on him.  Afterwards, the legendary Kobe Bryant –  Thomas’ idol – would praise his performance in Twitter, mentioning that he’s “now and forever will be known as the ‘Mighty IT.’”

7.) When the IT-Less Celtics Beat the Cavs on Their Own Home Floor
During the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavaliers demolished the first-seed Celtics in the first two games.  In addition, Isaiah Thomas went down with an injury that would keep him off of the rest of the playoffs.   Thus, with the series going to Quickens Loans Arena, everybody was expecting the C’s to be swept.  And in Game 3, it seemed to be looking that way, as the Cavs even lead by 21 at one point.  But the C’s grinded and persisted, clawed back into the game, and capped a comeback win with a 3-pointer-that-luckily-bounced-home gamewinner from Avery Bradley.

6.) When Kawhi Leonard Reminded Everyone That He’s the Best Two-Way Player in the NBA
He shadowed Harden, chased off Ariza from the 3-point line, blocked Capela, drove the ball to the other end, and scored.  Kawhi is awesome.

5.) When John Wall Made This Spectacular Wrap-Pass to Marcin Gortat

Here’s another moment from the Wizards-Celtics series: in Game 4, he did this masterpiece…

4.) When Manu Ginobili Turned Back the Clock
Manu Ginobili is my most favorite Spur of all time.  At his prime, conjuring magical performances on the court were a regular thing for him.  But, now, at 39 years old, his main impact to the team is his veteran wisdom and his intimate familiarity with the Spurs system rather than solid productions off the floor.  So if Manu has a vintage game, I will take notice.  Game 5 of the West Semis is one of such.  At one point, he even brought down a thunderous dunk...
He finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.  But what the boxscore didn’t reflect is how he kept the Spurs offensive machine running smoothly, whether by directing or distributing or scoring, especially when Kawhi was off the court (injury).

But his biggest play was during the closing seconds of overtime.  The Rockets had possession, and the chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer.  As expected, the ball found itself in James Harden’s hands.  But Old Man Manu played tight D on him.  And just when Harden got the separation, Manu found the perfect angle to swat his 3-point attempt from behind as the final buzzer sounded.

3.) This Sleeper Warriors Fan Within Cavs Nation

It’s a common thing for camera crews to focus on enthusiastic home team fans.  But when this happened during Game 4 of the ECF, the Jumbotron showed a remarkable Cavs fan:
Plot twist: he was a Warriors fan all along!  It was already hilarious, but the horrified expression of the woman with him, which I presume is the mother, made it more so.

2.) When Stephen Curry Made Rudy Gobert Dance
Savage shake and bake.

1.) James Harden’s Epic Meltdown in Game 6 of the West Semis
In a must-win Game 6 for the Rockets, James Harden had another meltdown.  To everyone’s bafflement, he only took 11 shots – missing 9 of them and finishing with a mere 10 points.  Heck, in the first half, he had more turnovers (five) than shot attempts (two)!  Throughout the game, his body language looked like someone who is either having a passive-aggressive tantrum or a heavy, non-basketball-related life crisis.  His performance was so shockingly terrible and detached that people were saying things like it looked like the Mafia got on him to throw away the game or he was drugged.  Personally, I think he was still shell-shocked by Manu blocking his shot in Game 5 (see number 4; to be fair, he might be already demoralized prior that, since he was already a no-show during Game 5’s crunch time – four turnovers with no points in the last 3:12 of that game).  It was pretty bizarre and perplexing.  But also comical.
And according to some people, this is the guy that’s supposed to be more deserving of the MVP award than Russell Westbrook.  Ha.

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