All-NBA Playoff Team: Week 2
The second week of the NBA playoffs is now history, and so are the seasons of two more teams. The Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Bobcats have been officially sent packing.
At Bleacher Report, we’re picking an All-NBA team for each week of the postseason. If you missed them, you can look at the first week’s selections here. But now, it’s time to name Week 2’s top performers.
Selections were mostly based on the best overall stats for the week, but other factors such as defense, winning and losing and performance in closeout games were also considered.
Here are the players who stood out the most from April 25 to May 1.
All stats for this article obtained from NBA.com/stats and include only the numbers for the specific week.
Point Guard: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
For the second straight week, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers wins the point guard nomination.
Over the week he averaged 26.3 points on .511 shooting, including an amazing .522 from deep. It’s not like he held back in his shot selection from behind the arc, as he fired off 7.7 attempts per game.
Lillard’s success was hardly limited to scoring either. He averaged 7.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per contest. While the argument against him might be that the Trail Blazers were just 1-2 on the week, his team outscored the Houston Rockets while he was on the court.
The series has been one of the more exciting of the first round, and Lillard has been a big reason why.
If winning is your preference, John Wall got serious consideration for his efforts in helping the Washington Wizards climb over the Chicago Bulls on their way to the second round. He averaged 20.7 points and 7.0 assists, but he also shot a fairly poor .375 from the field.
Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder posted great overall numbers with averages of 23.3 points, 8.3 assists and 9.3 rebounds, but he shot just .329.
Shooting Guard: James Harden, Houston Rockets
Shooting guard was the hardest position to select, not because there were too many qualified players, but because everyone had a “but” attached to him.
James Harden of the Houston Rockets was a scoring beast, averaging 27.3 points. He also had 6.3 assists and 5.3 boards. That’s good enough to give it to him, but he shot just .380 and was a liability on defense.
I’m going off-book here, and for once, someone is going to get named to a team like this exclusively for outstanding defensive play. Tony Allen held presumed league MVP Kevin Durant to 25.7 points on .382 shooting from the field and .190 from deep, but he didn’t hold Durant in check in the Grizzlies' closeout game in Memphis.
Monta Ellis also had a nice, well-rounded week for the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 23.3 points, 4.0 assists and 2.7 boards, but his team was only 1-2 on the week.
Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets and DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors also received consideration here.
Small Forward: LeBron James, Miami Heat
LeBron James of the Miami Heat played up to his cyborgian standard last week in the two games it took the Heat to oust the Charlotte Bobcats from the postseason.
James was utterly dominant, leading all players in scoring, averaging 30.5 points on .541 shooting. He added 7.5 assists, 8.5 boards and 2.5 steals. Meanwhile, his counterpart for the Bobcats, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, scored just 3.5 points on .300 shooting.
That 28-point disparity exceeds the scoring average, period, of any other player this week. That’s the kind of performance you expect from the best player in the world intent on his winning his third straight title.
After closing the series, James said, "We got tested by a young, scrappy Bobcats team. We responded with a championship-type attitude," per The Associated Press' Steve Reed.
Paul George has been the one consistent factor for the otherwise struggling Indiana Pacers. He averaged 24.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists last week. His productivity was also efficient, as he shot .500 from the field and .450 from deep.
Nicolas Batum of the Portland Trail Blazers, who is seemingly always flying under the radar, has had another star-caliber performance passed over by the mass media. His 22.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists make him one of only five players who averaged 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a series last week. The other four—James, Harden, Lillard and Westbrook—were all in the All-Star game this year.
Power Forward: Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks
Paul Millsap has been the key factor in the Atlanta Hawks’ unexpected challenge to the top-seeded Indiana Pacers, filling up the stat sheet with 21.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 3.0 blocks a contest. He’s been scoring inside and outside, hitting his threes at a .400 rate.
Among players with at least 30 minutes played, only LeBron James and Paul George had a better player impact estimate than Millsap last week.
David West of the Indiana Pacers has made the head-to-head battle between him and Millsap one of the more competitive of the first round. West averaged 19.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists for the week. His 24 points, 11 boards and six assists in Game 6 were the key to the Pacers bringing the series back home.
Dirk Nowitzki continues to defy his age (35), averaging 21.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game last week while helping the Dallas Mavericks to a surprisingly competitive tilt with the San Antonio Spurs.
Center: Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
If this first series is any indication, Dwight Howard has decided he’s going to use this postseason to remind everyone of how great he can be. He spent last week blowing up the Portland Trail Blazers.
He averaged 23.7 points and 14.0 boards along with 2.0 assists a game. He shot .578 from the field and .655 from the charity stripe, which for him is like 1.000. But the numbers are only a part of it.
With the Rockets facing elimination, Howard was huge. Zach Harper of CBS Sports explains:
Dwight Howard did everything in the Game 5 victory, from scoring efficiently inside and not imploding at the free throw line to taking the most dangerous weapon of the first round LaMarcus Aldridge out of the offensive flow for most of the night. His 22 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks don't even begin to explain the impact he had on the game, performing as their best player in a time in which James Harden still can't seem to figure out the Blazers' defense.
Nene’s performance against the Defensive Player of the Year, Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls, was pivotal in the Washington Wizards winning their first-round series. He averaged 15.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, but with his ejection in Game 3 and suspension for Game 4, it’s hard to give him first-place honors.
Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies scored 17.0 points and pulled down 10.3 boards while playing his normal outstanding defense, holding the Oklahoma City Thunder to 100.2 points per 100 possessions while he was on the court.
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