NBA Playoffs 2013: Players Who Will Have Most Impact at End of 1st Round

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2013

Stephen Curry has been the driving force for the Warriors.
Stephen Curry has been the driving force for the Warriors.Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

With the first round of the NBA playoffs reaching its pinnacle, there are players that can make or break their team's chances at advancing to the conference semifinals. 

Guys like Stephen Curry and Josh Smith have been huge for their squads as they battle in a tough series. 

Here are the three players who will have the biggest impact as the first round concludes. 


Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Curry has been lights-out in the first round and has been the biggest reason the sixth-seeded Warriors hold a 3-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets. 

In Game 4, Curry had 31 points and made 10 of his 16 shot attempts to put the Warriors within one game of advancing to the next round. 

However, in Game 1—the only game the Warriors have lost—Curry was held to just 19 points, 10 points less than his lowest mark in the three wins. 

Curry's performance this postseason has been especially critical since David Lee went down with an injury that cost him the rest of the season. 

If the Nuggets want to have a chance at coming back, Ty Lawson and the rest of the Nuggets defense will have to find a way to shut Curry down. 


Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks

Smith finally found his rhythm against the Pacers in Game 4, recording a double-double with 29 points and 11 boards. His play was the biggest reason the Hawks won two straight games to tie the series at 2-2. 

Game 5 will see the series return to Indiana, where Smith only scored 15 and 16 points in the first two games respectively. 

If the Hawks want to win that pivotal Game 5, Smith will have to continue trending upwards. Otherwise, the Pacers could make the Hawks' surge in Game 3 and Game 4 all for nothing. 


Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Paul seemed ready to take control of the series after the first two games. The Clippers won both, and Paul had 23 and 24 points respectively, including a buzzer-beater in Game 2. 

However, the Grizzlies took advantage of home court and took the third and fourth games to send the series back to Los Angeles for a crucial Game 5. 

While in Memphis, Paul was held to just eight and 19 points. He'll need to get back into the groove he had in Los Angeles if the Clippers want to advance to the second round. 

Paul is one of the best players in the league. But if he fails to get out of the first round, the NBA commercial of him sitting in the rafters in won't mean anything.