Sickest Photos of 2013 NBA Playoffs

Bryant Knox@@BryantKnoxFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2013

Sickest Photos of 2013 NBA Playoffs

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    The art of photography helps capture stories in single moments in time. Sports photography is no exception, and the 2013 NBA playoffs have given us plenty of moments to remember.

    Through the lenses of the best in the business, we’ve experienced emotions at their highest. We’ve seen players at their best, and we’ve also seen them at their worst.

    The postseason hasn't lacked storylines, and some of the best have been preserved in images along the way.  

Pre-Game Greatness

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    Focus, concentration and the best player on the planet.

    Add pyrotechnics to the mix, and you have one of the best photos taken during the 2012-13 playoffs.

    LeBron James is the league's MVP, and he's shown why throughout the postseason. Not even the rowdy crowd behind him can shake his meditation, creating the perfect contrast of opposing pre-game rituals.

    Not every great photo has to be an action shot, as sometimes silence can set the tone for an epic display of greatness. 

Nate Robinson Soars to the Rim

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    Nate Robinson may stand just 5’9”, but he has the ability to fly through the air like few others his size.

    If there’s one thing you can count on when it comes to Robinson, it’s that he has confidence in every shot he takes. Whether at the rim or 30 feet away, the little man believes the ball is going in every time it leaves his hands.

    In Round 1, Robinson clearly wasn’t afraid to attack the size of the Brooklyn Nets. In this picture, Joe Johnson appears to be his biggest competition, but at 6’7”, Johnson isn’t exactly picking on someone his own size.

    The acrobatic skills of Robinson are on full display, but in Game 6, Robinson's 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting wasn’t enough to take down Brooklyn.

J.R. Smith Celebrates Against the Boston Celtics

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    We learned during the 2013 playoffs that when J.R. Smith’s outside shot isn’t falling, he can go into a tailspin on offense. However, as one of the streakiest shooters in the league, he can make a huge difference when he’s got it going from long range.

    In Game 2 of Round 1 against the Boston Celtics, everything was going right for the New York Knicks. Smith scored 19 points off the bench, the team won by 16 points and Smith showed his gratitude to the three-point gods in front of his home crowd.

    But what makes this shot so great isn’t just the pose itself—it’s the contrast between celebratory faces on the side of the Knicks and the dejected looks of the Celtics. New York is celebrating to the right, Boston is sulking to the left and Smith is soaking it all in front and center.

    If you’re empathetic toward the struggles of the Celtics, you may prefer this shot right here. You still experience the glory of Smith, but you get the reveling crowd—P.Diddy included—without the bitter taste of Boston’s sorrow left behind.

Kobe Bryant Comforts Pau Gasol

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    This picture may not be sick in the glamorous sense of the word, but it certainly tells a story that will make Los Angeles Lakers fans sick to their stomachs. 

    The 2012-13 season was a complete disaster for the Lakers. A slow start made it beyond difficult to make the playoffs, and a lack of chemistry and health were the reason they never reached their own lofty expectations.

    In a year full of disappointment, everybody thought that the one player exempt from struggle and injury was Kobe Bryant. That notion proved to be false, as he missed the entire postseason with a torn Achilles tendon.

    Bryant may have been the one who told Pau Gasol to pull up his big boy pants during the regular season, but with the clock officially ticking and hopes falling away, the future Hall of Famer became a coach and a friend.

Physical Play in L.A.

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    The Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Clippers don’t like each other. Luckily for fans, that competition creates for a physical, entertaining brand of basketball every time the two rivals meet.

    When it comes to the Grizzlies and the Clippers, nobody is afraid to hit one another. Memphis has seemingly written the book on how to disrupt Blake Griffin and the Clips, but in the image above, Griffin is the one getting in a shot of his own.

    The beautiful part about this series was the plethora of photos just like this one. There are pictures of nasty, physical basketball from this series posted all over the Internet.

Physical Play Part II

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    Poor Tony Allen. First he takes a shot from Blake Griffin, and now he's got one of the best power forwards in NBA history (if not the best) putting in a shot of his own.

    When you watch the Memphis Grizzlies, it's clear that they don't mind physicality.

    The San Antonio Spurs are in the NBA Finals, and a big reason for that is their willingness to adjust without compromising their own style. Tim Duncan may be the Big Fundamental, but it's clear from the photo above that he's more than willing to bully an opposing player when given the chance.

    For another great shot of the Spurs, check out this one of Tony Parker. The point guard may not like the call, but that's one of the few things that haven't gone his way, as he's been a top performer in the playoffs thus far.

Joakim Noah Exits Stage Left

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    I think it’s safe to say that both the fans and the media had a little too much fun with this shot when it was released. That said, we’d be remiss not to mention it among the postseason’s best photos.

    For the purpose of this article, I have no interest in the backstory of Filomina Tobias. For that, you can check out this story from Ben Golliver on Sport Illustrated's “Point Forward.”

    What I’m more interested in is the backstory of the game itself. Game 2 between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls was an ugly one. Miami responded perfectly to its struggles in Game 1 and blew out the Bulls 115-78.

    Miami embarrassed its opponent on the scoreboard, but Chicago embarrassed itself by collecting six technicals and two ejections. Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah were the two to leave early, and as evidenced by the picture above, Noah’s departure became one of the most infamous ejections in recent memory.

Paul George Destroys Chris Andersen

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    Throughout the 2013 postseason, Paul George has established himself as a true NBA superstar. He also introduced himself to Chris Andersen in a way that Birdman wishes never happened.

    On a possession late in the third quarter of Game 2, George was being defended by LeBron James one-on-one. In most cases, the safe bet is to go with James stopping George, but not this time.

    George drove past the league’s MVP and finished high above the rim, putting Andersen on a poster—a task not easily accomplished by most around the Association.

    The only downside to the play is that George left too much time in third quarter, allowing James to come down and nail a last-second three-pointer. All was good, though, following the play, as the two players shared mutual respect for one another entering the final period.

Clutch Play in the Paint

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    In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron James proved once again that he has shed the label of choke artist. He caught the ball up top, changed directions and laid it in as time expired against the Indiana Pacers.

    But as good as the play was, you have to wonder what would have happened if Roy Hibbert had been clogging the middle.

    In the final game of the Round 2 series between the Pacers and the New York Knicks, Hibbert had five blocks to go along with his 21 points and 12 rebounds. None of his blocks, however, meant more to the final result than the one that came against Carmelo Anthony in the fourth quarter.

    The world will never know what would have happened if Hibbert had been in against James, but regardless, we now have two classic images to remind us just how great playoff basketball can be.

Oracle Arena Has Reason to Celebrate

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    There are hundreds of photos out there of Stephen Curry celebrating. The guard reminded people why he should have been an All-Star during the postseason, and he had as much fun as anybody along the way.

    But while other shots show the sheer emotion that Curry put on display, this one gets the Oracle Arena crowd involved—a common theme throughout the 2013 playoffs.

    It’s almost become cliché to call the Golden State Warriors fans some of the best in the NBA, but it’s common knowledge for a reason. Few arenas around the league offer the same kind of excitement both on the floor and in the stands, and as shown by the photo above, the two work together in perfect harmony.