All-NBA Playoff Team: Week 5
We’re now five weeks into the playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference and the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference are duking it out to see who gets to the NBA Finals.
At Bleacher Report, we’re picking an All-NBA team for each week of the postseason.
Up until now, I’ve included honorable mentions, but since the field has dwindled so much, there’s not much point in that now. There are some positions where there were other players considered and those players are named, but there is no specific “honorable mention” because there were no worthy candidates at other positions.
Please note that only this week’s games, May 16-22, were considered. The games that preceded the specified dates are not factored in, although they may be alluded to. Here are the stats for the dates included from NBA.com/STATS. And, here are the players who stood out the most.
Point Guard: Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs might have missed a game, but he hasn’t missed a beat. He was this week’s best point guard and his Spurs were this week’s best team. Thus, he also gets credited as this week's best player.
Parker averaged 18.0 points on .552 shooting and dished 8.5 assists in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals.
But that doesn’t fully reflect his value. While he’s been on the court, the Spurs have been obliterating the Oklahoma City Thunder by 33 points per 100 possessions compared with “only” 21.6 points (account required) when Parker sits.
Okay, being perfectly fair, the difference is that when Parker is on the bench the Spurs have been beating the snot out of the Thunder. When Parker is on the court, they’ve been beating all the bodily fluids out of OKC.
It’s either downright beautiful or ugly, depending on where your allegiances lie.
By the way, does anyone else appreciate the irony that “Parker” is such a great driver?
No other point guards were considered this week.
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
The Miami Heat played the entire regular season with the strategy of keeping Dwyane Wade in reserve for the postseason as much as possible. Right now, it absolutely looks like that strategy is paying off, as Wade has chosen the Eastern Conference Finals to pay the best he’s played all season.
Wade posted the highest scoring average in the league this week with 25.0 points. He did that shooting a ridiculous .647 from the field and .500 from deep. He added 4.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds. Perhaps more importantly, he’s helping LeBron James shoulder the burden when James needs the help the most.
Lance Stephenson got some consideration with 21.0 points, 7.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds.
Danny “My Shot Chart Is” Green, who is averaging 18.5 points with a 1.028 (that’s not a typo) effective field-goal percentage also got serious thought because of his ridiculous shooting.
Small Forward: LeBron James, Miami Heat
LeBron James of the Miami Heat averaged 23.5 points on .556 shooting, 8.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists this week. For virtually any player in the league, those are dynamic numbers. For James, they’re actually a little on the “blah” side.
Bear in mind, though, that he’s being guarded by one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, the Indiana Pacers' Paul George.
He’s also just plain exhausted. As Adam Fromal of Bleacher Report points out,
LeBron James is tired. That much is obvious when you watch him make uncharacteristic mental mistakes early in games before finding his stride. It's even more readily apparent that other main contributors for Miami are exhausted as well.
Fromal also points to a Brian Windhorst of ESPN article from January, quoting James as saying,
It’s a long and grueling season for all of us. We’ve played a lot of basketball in our four years together and it’s taken a lot of wear and tear on our bodies. Mentally it is fatiguing. We’re trying to find the motivation the best way we can as a group.
A battle-worn version of James, so capably bolstering the burden of the Heat’s playoff run, reveals that he deserves more credit for his fortitude than he’s received in the past. He's been celebrated for his talent, but it's time he got recognized for his character as well.
The only other player who received even a flicker of consideration was Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, but James was better than him across the board statistically. And Durant's team got obliterated twice.
Power Forward: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan just keeps going. The Energizer Bunny will die before he retires.
In fact, if he plays 27 minutes in Game 3 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Duncan will pass Kobe Bryant for second all-time in postseason minutes. If he plays eight more games this year, he’ll probably pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most playoff playing time in NBA history.
All that, and he’s averaging 20.5 points on .516 shooting and 9.5 rebounds against the Thunder. Granted they are without their starting power forward, Serge Ibaka, but credit Duncan for taking advantage of that. He’s not just giving minutes, he’s still dominating.
No other power forwards really stood out this week.
Center: Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
You know the Indiana Pacers are playing the Miami Heat when Roy Hibbert is dominating. Over the last three postseasons, when playing anyone else, Hibbert averages 11.1 points on .481 shooting and 7.6 boards.
When playing the Heat, those numbers climb to 17.3 points on .519 shooting and 10.9 rebounds.
So far, in his two games against the Heat, he’s averaging 15.5 points and 11.0 rebounds, so he’s right on pace. Granted, he was coming out his doldrums prior to the start of the series. But the Heat are the perfect opponent for continuing to build his shaken confidence.
And this week that consummates in him being the indisputable best center in the postseason.
There are no other centers worth mentioning, though Tiago Splitter had a nice first quarter in Game 2.
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