NBA Playoffs 2012: 4 Players Who Must Step Up Their Games
With the 2012 NBA playoffs well under way, a few players must step up their games to lift their team to the next round. The competition is getting tighter, the games are getting closer and boys are finally being separated from men.
Regular season play won't work in the postseason.
NBA players have to take their games to a new level to give their team the best chances of taking home the championship.
These four players must step up their games.
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Roy Hibbert is an essential part of the Indiana Pacers and the X-factor in the playoff series against Miami.
The center was dominant on both ends of the floor in Game 3, in which the Pacers completely blew out the Heat with a 94-75 win. With 19 points, 18 rebounds and five assists, Hibbert was a driving force in the Heat beat down.
However, Game 4 was a different story.
Hibbert only had 10 points and was in foul trouble for most of the second half. It's not a coincidence the Pacers suffered a 101-93 loss on Sunday.
As the defensive anchor of the Pacers, Hibbert must step it up and stay out of foul trouble in Game 4. It won't be an easy task, as the Heat are second in the league for drawing fouls at 29.5 per game, but Hibbert needs to be a factor in the second half.
Throughout Game 4, when Hibbert was on the floor, the Heat were outscored by 11.3 points. When he was on the bench, the Heat scored 18.5 more points.
If Hibbert doesn't stay out of foul trouble, the Pacers will let this series slip away from them.
Ray Allen has been unusually quiet in the series against Boston.
In the last three games, he's only scored a combined 13 points and two three-pointers. His shot attempts have also been considerably less than normal.
Philadelphia is doing a great job of taking Allen out of the game. They are locking him down, forcing the Celtics to resort to the second and third options. While the team is still winning games without a dynamic Jesus Shuttlesworth, the cushion would be greater if he had a bigger role.
With Avery Bradley sidelined due to a shoulder injury, Allen needs to step up in Game 6. The Celtics will try to close out the series in Philadelphia, so the Sixers will definitely bring their A-game.
Allen may have to step up if Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are locked down, so he needs to be ready.
Coming into Game 5, Andre Iguodala was the most popular man in Philadelphia. After Monday night's 101-85 loss to the Celtics, it's safe to say the team captain has to redeem himself.
Iguodala is the Sixers' most inconsistent offensive player. He was a huge factor in Philadelphia's Game 4 win at home, scoring 16 points and hitting a number of clutch shots.
In fact, Iguodala snapped a tie game with five points in the final 90 seconds to lead the Sixers over the Celtics.
The inconsistency returned in Game 5, with Iguodala putting up eight points while shooting just 3-of-10 from the floor in the embarrassing loss.
He was virtually nonexistent in the game. The Sixers need all of their players to step up if they want to win this series, but none more than Iguodala.
As the team captain, he needs to score consistently against a tough Boston defense.
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In Game 4, Wade impressed everyone with 30 points, 22 of those points coming in the second half. At one point, Wade made eight shots in a row. He also added nine rebounds and six assists.
However, after Game 3— the worst game of Wade's postseason career—it's appropriate to put Wade on this list. He scored only five points on 2-of-13 shooting and had five points in the 94-75 blowout loss.
In addition, Wade got into a small confrontation with head coach Erik Spoelstra.
While Wade did appear to bounce back in Game 4, it's crucial he doesn't have another bad game like Game 3. The Pacers are giving the Heat a lot of trouble, and Wade must be an effective leader through scoring.