Ranking the Best Moments of the 2012-13 NBA Playoffs
The 2013 NBA playoffs have delivered no shortage of memorable moments, as the stars have come out in full force for mesmerizing performances. From players who piled on the points to awe-inspiring defensive feats, we've seen it all.
The question is, what have been the best moments of the 2012-13 NBA playoffs?
There are quite a few to choose from, as the postseason has brought the best out of countless players in extraordinary moments. With all of the commotion around the league, however, we can't help but wonder.
Who has risen to the top and created the best moments of the postseason?
10. LeBron James Blocks Tiago Splitter
The block that shook the world.
The true impact of this play on the game is debatable, but there are few moments that encapsulated the brilliance of LeBron James as much as this one did. After all, it came in the NBA Finals during a game in which LeBron's offense wasn't functioning.
Who needs to score when you can do this?
Tiago Splitter, a 6'11" center, took an accurate entry feed from point guard Tony Parker while working off of the pick-and-roll. Splitter immediately went up for what appeared to be a clear path, one-hand slam.
And then he met LeBron.
9. Dwyane Wade Returns to 2006
LeBron James scored more points, Chris Bosh recorded a double-double and Ray Allen was key early on. When the dust had settled and the smoke had cleared, however, one man was responsible for the Miami Heat pulling away and evening the NBA Finals at 2-2.
The 2006 version of Dwyane Wade.
Wade, a two-time NBA champion and the 2006 Finals MVP, finished with 32 points, six rebounds, four assists, six steals and a block on 14-of-25 shooting. Not only does that look like a pretty slash line, but it was also a legendary performance.
Just check the numbers.
And one more.
Dwyane Wade: 1st player with 30 pts, 6 steals in a Finals game since 1988 (Isiah Thomas, Pistons vs Lakers).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 14, 2013
How about that?
Wade's legendary performance was a thrill for his fans, as he'd been doing this his entire career before the Big Three was formed. Unfortunately, injuries and a sidekick role have limited the moments in which we've seen Flash.
For those wondering, Wade averaged 33.2 points, 6.8 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks in his final postseason before LeBron James and Chris Bosh came to town.
8. Hibbert Meets 'Melo at the Rim
Everyone loves a good dunk. Well, everyone except for Indiana Pacers center and Defensive Player of the Year snub Roy Hibbert.
Just ask New York Knicks scorer Carmelo Anthony.
'Melo led the league in scoring during the 2012-13 regular season and finished with 39 points during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With the Knicks leading 92-90 and on the brink of elimination, Anthony went for the exclamation point.
'Melo went baseline, leaped off of the ground and attempted a one-hand jam—only for Hibbert to deny him at the rim.
The block was the turning point of the game and ultimately sparked a 16-7 run to close out the game. The Pacers would go on to win 106-99 and thus clinch their berth in the Eastern Conference Finals, effectively eliminating New York.
An extraordinary play with severe implications.
7. Danny Green and Gary Neal's Career Nights
This is why we watch the NBA playoffs.
During the first two games of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs split games behind the efforts of their star performers, such as LeBron James' triple-double and Tony Parker's late-game heroics.
In Game 3, the Spurs' role players decided to have their Finals moment during a 113-77 San Antonio win.
Danny Green and Gary Neal combined for 51 points on 13 three-point field goals made. Together, they single-handedly led the Spurs to one of the most lopsided victories in NBA Finals history.
It was all about the three-ball.
Green finished with 27 points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks, including one swat on a LeBron James floater. He shot 9-of-15 from the field, 7-of-9 from beyond the arc and didn't commit a single turnover.
As for Neal, he decided to combat every effort Miami had in the first two quarters, including a buzzer-beater entering halftime.
For the game, Neal finished with 24 points, four rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes of action. He was 9-of-17 from the floor, 6-of-10 from three-point range and matched Green with zero turnovers.
Between their shooting performances and lack of turnovers, this was one of the best tandem performances we've seen in quite some time.
6. Tony Parker's Unbelievable Buzzer-Beater
Drive left, cut back right, spin, fall to the ground, maintain your dribble, hit a buzzer-beater with the reigning MVP draped all over you—that's what you call an extraordinary play.
That's the feat Tony Parker pulled off during Game 1 of the NBA Finals. With the Spurs in control but far from having pulled away, the most underappreciated man in basketball decided to take control and put this one away.
LeBron James took the defensive assignment, but Miami's zone quickly switched man after man onto Parker. After driving left and cutting back right, Parker found James all over again and fell to the ground after a hard cut found his body.
Maintaining his dribble, Parker got off of the ground, used his pivot foot to go under LeBron and banked in one of the most extraordinary buzzer-beaters of the year.
Welcome to postseason basketball.
5. Paul George, LeBron James Trade Buzzer-Beaters
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals may have been the most wild affair of the 2012-13 season. Not only did the Miami Heat need a buzzer-beater to win in overtime, but the Indiana Pacers also forced overtime on a buzzer-beater of their own.
Thus, the rivalry between Paul George and LeBron James was born.
The Pacers inbounded the ball with 11.9 seconds remaining in regulation and the Heat owning a three-point lead. George found David West, then West gave it back to George, who errantly passed it back only to see it touch his hands again—crazy, I know—and in a matter of seconds, a star was born.
George rose over LeBron and, in the words of Mike Breen, bang! We were tied, 92-92.
Check out this video to see the incredible play.
After that, it appeared as if nothing could top what we'd already seen. Unfortunately for the Pacers, LeBron had one last trick up his sleeve.
With 2.2 seconds remaining, he took the inbound pass from Shane Battier, attacked the basket and finished with George trailing. As we said, the rivalry was born.
4. Stephen Curry's Coming-out Party
Perhaps no player helped himself quite as much as point guard Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. From his display of three-point mastery to his routine double-doubles, Curry was absolutely sensational.
The key to all of his success, however, is Curry's uncanny ability to shoot off of the bounce.
Curry dominated the Warriors' first-round series against the Denver Nuggets, thus garnering the reputation of a true star. Even still, there were some who questioned if this was a one-time ordeal or a sign of things to come.
In Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, Curry proved his worth.
Matched up against an elite opponent in Tony Parker, Curry dominated, scoring 44 points and dishing out 11 assists on 18-35 shooting. While some may still attempt to debate his true status, Curry put one thing on display: He's one of the best offensive players in the NBA, and that's worthy of a star label.
3. LeBron, George Display Mutual Respect
You don't have to like your opponent, but when there's a sign of mutual respect, few moments can compare.
That was the case during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals between Paul George and LeBron James. Surprisingly, it all transpired after George put LeBron's teammate on a poster and the MVP countered with a three-ball at the buzzer.
They followed with a high-five at center court.
In their previous encounter, George hit a buzzer-beater to send Game 1 to overtime. LeBron proceeded to hit a buzzer-beater in overtime to win the game.
These two men went back and forth for seven games, and this sign of mutual respect was the best part of it. This is a rivalry we will be speaking of for years to come.
2. Ray Allen Sets NBA Record for Postseason Three-Point Field Goals
There have been an abundance of great performances during the 2013 NBA playoffs. With that being said, only one player can stake claim to becoming the NBA's all-time leader in a statistical category.
Just as he did for the regular season, Miami Heat shooting guard Ray Allen set the all-time record for postseason three-point field goals made.
It didn't take long, as Allen drained a three during the fourth quarter of Game 3 of Miami's first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. The three-ball brought his total to 321, which surpassed Reggie Miller's mark of 320.
Miller simply cannot catch a break.
Allen set the NBA regular-season record on Feb. 10, 2011. Just two years later, he's now the true three-point king.
Is there anything he can't do with the three?
1. Nate Robinson's Fourth-Quarter Magic
First round or not, this was one of the most extraordinary individual performances in NBA history.
The Brooklyn Nets were flat-out dominating the Chicago Bulls during Game 4 of their first-round series. They'd gone up double digits, Chicago had forgotten how to score the basketball, and with 2:59 remaining, they held a 14-point lead.
And then Nate Robinson went Michael Jordan.
Nate Robinson's 23 points in 4th quarter were 2nd-most scored by Bulls player in a playoff quarter..Michael Jordan had 24 in quarter in 1990— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 27, 2013
How's that for extraordinary?
Robinson forgot how to miss, sinking shot after shot and single-handedly bringing the Bulls back into this one. In fact, on the bucket that tied the game, Robinson was the man who made the assist to Carlos Boozer.
So why is this No. 1?
Robinson's performance set the stage for the postseason, as he reminded us that anyone can rise up at any given moment. With his monstrous fourth quarter that nearly broke Michael Jordan's record, he also showed us that no game is over until it's over.
One of the greatest postseason performances you'll ever see.