NBA Playoffs 2012: Power Ranking the Most Insane Highlights so Far
The 2012 NBA playoffs are beginning to take shape.
Each series has now gone through two or three games, and we have gotten a good look at every team. There are great plays every day of the regular season, and the same can be said for the playoffs.
Some of the NBA's finest have made extraordinary plays in the games up to this point. Whether it be a buzzer-beater, dunk, pass or block, these plays are the best.
Here are the top 20 plays of the NBA playoffs so far.
20. Ibaka from Behind the Arc!
In this video the play itself may not be that impressive, but something like this very rarely happens.
With 3.5 seconds left in the first half of Game 1 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks, Serge Ibaka was given the chance to close out the half and took an open shot from behind the arc. The 6'10" power forward hit the shot, allowing the Thunder to close out the half down by just three.
That shot puts Ibaka at 3-for-7 from beyond the arc in his career. While that is a pretty good percentage, it won't be enough to convince Ibaka to start launching from three-point range.
19. Watson Dishes to Noah
The Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose is unfortunately out for the season with a torn ACL, but his replacement C.J. Watson has gotten an opportunity to showcase his abilities.
Here, Watson drives around the 76ers' Evan Turner and miraculously gets the pass around the back of Spencer Hawes to find Joakim Noah for the slam.
18. Tyson Chandler with the Putback Slam!
Tyson Chandler has meant so much to the New York Knicks this season. In addition to being named Defensive Player of the Year, Chandler is constantly grabbing offensive rebounds and finishing on the offensive end.
This is one of those dunks. Chandler grabs a rebound off a missed J.R. Smith layup attempt and slams it down over Mike Miller. The refs think Chandler shows a little too much emotion, and slap him with a technical immediately after the play.
After a dunk like that, you can live with the T.
17. D-Wade Finishes with a Monster Jam
It didn't take long for Dwyane Wade to get involved in a highlight play.
Just a couple minutes into Game 1 of the Knicks vs. Heat playoff series, Wade took the feed from Mario Chalmers and drove into the lane, finishing with a monster jam at the rim.
Wade gained some momentum from this dunk and finished with a great game, scoring 19 points and shooting 8-for-13 from the field. His energy was a big reason the Heat were able to blow out the Knicks in Game 1.
16. Paul Pierce with the Steal and the Finish
The Celtics' Paul Pierce was awarded with the NBA.com steal of the night, as shown in this video.
Pierce took a deflected pass and dribbled down the court, finding Avery Bradley before getting it back and finishing strong at the rim.
Pierce had a pretty clear path to the basket after Rondo's feed and the play was simple, but he gets bonus points for playing on both sides of the ball in this play.
And how about that "scream of exclamation?"
15. Paul George Gets High for the Putback Dunk
There is a reason Indiana's Paul George was in the Slam Dunk Contest.
George is very athletic and can get extremely high in the air. With nobody guarding him on the baseline, George takes advantage of an easy route to the rim and slams home a put-back off Danny Granger's missed shot.
We will likely see more great dunks from him in this series against Orlando.
14. Marvin Williams Soars for the Alley-Oop
Marvin Williams probably isn't the first guy on the Hawks roster that comes to mind when you think of the word "dunk."
Well, Williams makes an absolutely fantastic play here that should help you remember his name.
Williams plays defense and offense in this play, stealing the ball from Brandon Bass before finishing off a lob from Joe Johnson.
I'd say the vertical he gets from that jump would easily be enough to jump the hood of a Kia.
13. Anthony Brings the Pain Against Anthony
Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks have not had very good luck this series.
They are already without Jeremy Lin, and now they have lost both Iman Shumpert and Amar'e Stoudemire. Still, Melo will try to do everything he can to keep them competitive.
That has proved difficult for him so far, but he has still had his moments.
This is one of them, as he takes the feed in the paint and finishes with a slam over Miami center Joel Anthony.
12. Iggy Handles the Alley-Oop
It is no secret that Andre Iguodala is extremely athletic.
Therefore, it should not be a secret that he can finish dunks like this. In this fast break, Iguodala takes a lob from Jrue Holiday on a fast break and finishes the alley-oop without breaking a sweat.
Kevin Harlan's call that "Flight 9 is cleared for landing" is very fitting for Iggy's dunk here.
11. Vinsanity Strikes OKC
At age 35, Vince Carter is a shell of his former self.
This season in Dallas he has put up career lows in scoring and rebounding and shot just 41 percent from the field.
In this play, however, Carter shows that he still has the ability to throw it down as he takes the feed from Jason Kidd and dunks over Russell Westbrook.
Kidd setting up Carter in this play is reminiscent of their old days when they were both All-Stars in New Jersey.
10. Westbrook Shares with Durant
In this play, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant show off in the fast break. Other than Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, there may not be a better duo in the open court than the one-two punch for Oklahoma City.
The interesting thing about this play is that Westbrook stopped in his tracks to give the ball to Durant, who was trailing a few feet back. Many people have criticized Westbrook for taking too many shots, but this unselfish pass is proof that the two can co-exist.
9. Manu Ginobili with the Amazing Pass
The Spurs' Manu Ginobili has really struggled so far in the playoffs.
Through his team's first two games, he has shot 5-for-16 from the field and has scored just 11 points while committing seven turnovers. He also missed that wide-open dunk.
Still, it hasn't been all bad for Ginobili. This assist to Tim Duncan has to go down as one of the greatest passes of the entire season.
8. J.R. Smith with a Double-Clutch Jam
The Knicks lost Game 3 at MSG by a rather large margin, but for most of the game they had the crowd riled up and excited because of plays like this one.
J.R. Smith has had some highlight reel dunks this year, and this one is no exception. On a fast-break, Smith takes a pass from Landry Fields before driving to the basket and finishing with a double-clutch jam that got the fans on their feet.
Unfortunately, this was the high point of the game for New York. They lost their lead by the start of the second half, and in the fourth quarter they completely lost control of the game.
7. Blake Gets Dunked On!
Dante Cunningham is not a very well-known player considering the amount of playing time he gets for the Grizzlies. However, this is a moment he will be remembered for.
Cunningham gave Blake Griffin a taste of his own medicine when he jumped over him for a put-back slam. That was enough to extend the Grizzlies' lead to 17 and force the Clippers to call a timeout.
Cunningham even tries to intimidate Griffin after the dunk, putting his arms up in the air and getting in his face momentarily.
Somewhere, Kendrick Perkins and Timofey Mozgov are having a laugh about this.
6. Jeff Teague's Amazing Rejection
Jeff Teague is 6'2", so he doesn't block too many shots. He's blocked 73 shots in his career, which is not bad for a point guard, but he is certainly not known as a shot-blocker.
That was until this amazing block on Keyon Dooling.
Teague gets from one side of the court to the other in a matter of seconds and soars in for a block despite good ball movement by the Celtics.
Keyon Dooling is just 6'3", but it took an incredible amount of speed and height to block this shot. You have to admire Teague's determination.
5. Bynum Sets Records
While Kobe sat out with an injury towards the end of the season, Andrew Bynum got a chance to step up as a team leader for the Lakers. In Game 1 against the Nuggets, Bynum led by example.
He had a triple-double that night, and his 10 blocks tied an NBA playoff record.
While this isn't exactly a highlight, it still deserves a spot on this list.
4. Iggy Strikes Again!
Iguodala did not cap off Game 2 against the Bulls with just one monster dunk. He has an even more spectacular one here.
He takes the ball in the fast break and unleashes a tomahawk jam over All-Star small forward Luol Deng. To be able to pull off that dunk with a great defender right on your tail is simply amazing.
This sort of offensive production from Iguodala could be the difference between the Sixers winning or losing this series.
3. Wade Serves It Up to LeBron
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are the two most dangerous players in the league on the fast break, and this video is just more evidence of why.
It all starts with the great defense by Mario Chalmers, who passes it to Wade in the open court. From there, Wade took it to the basket and did the unexpected, throwing up a lob to the incoming James for the finish.
The play silenced the MSG crowd and even Tyson Chandler, who was standing under the basket watching in astonishment as LeBron slammed it down. Had this game been in Miami, you can only imagine the noise level of the crowd.
These types of plays build momentum, raise confidence and help teams win both at home and on the road.
2. Ridiculous Dunk by J.R. Smith
Staring at a 3-0 series deficit against the Miami Heat, J.R. Smith did his best to keep the crowd at MSG entertained.
In this play, Smith goes baseline for an absolutely absurd double-pump reverse jam. Try as he might to keep the Knicks in the game, Smith and company were overpowered by James and Wade in the fourth quarter.
I know he's been there twice already, but can we get J.R. in another Slam Dunk Contest?
1. Durant's Game-Winner!
This one was an obvious selection.
NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant once again rescued the Thunder from imminent defeat and came through in the clutch. Durant hit the go-ahead shot over Shawn Marion, who is a great defender.
The MVP award is likely going to LeBron James, but Durant should not be too far behind. And if he keeps making clutch plays like this in the playoffs, he has a very good shot at chasing down an NBA Championship ring.