All-NBA Playoff Team: Week 6
We’re now six 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.
San Antonio and Miami hold 3-2 leads in their respective series. Before long we’ll be watching the NBA Finals.
At Bleacher Report, we’re picking an All-NBA team for each week of the postseason. Players are chosen based on the whole week’s performance, though, more emphasis was put on closeout games. Both traditional box-score stats and advanced stats were taken into account.
Please note that only this week’s games, May 23-29, 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: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook was easily the week’s best point guard and overall player, averaging 29 points, 8.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds for the week.
In Game 4, a pivotal match that made the difference between being down 3-1 going back to San Antonio or being tied, Westbrook was nothing short of awesome, notching 40 points, 10 assists (which led to 23 points) and five steals. Per ESPN, he is the only player not named Michael Jordan to hit at least those numbers.
In the postgame presser, per ESPN, Westbrook said, “Coach told us he needed maximum effort from us tonight, and it starts with me at point guard. My job is to play both sides of the ball. If you want to win a championship, those are things you have to do."
Apparently, Westbrook wants to win a championship. While his Game 5 performance wasn’t quite as magnificent, he still notched a solid 21 points, seven assists and three steals.
Shooting Guard: Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
When did throwback Thursday stop being a Facebook thing and start becoming an NBA thing?
Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan sure seemed to want to extend it, with both going off in the pivotal Game 5. Ginobili had 19 points on nine shots, six assists and four rebounds.
He was key to the Spurs' second-quarter run, where the game was essentially decided. San Antonio was up just three when he entered the game at the 7:09 mark.
A minute later he dished a three to Boris Diaw. Then he made a layup. He ended up scoring or assisting on 10 of the Spurs 23 points in just seven minutes, and the Spurs had a 10-point lead they would never relinquish.
The full measure of Ginobili’s impact, though, isn’t seen in traditional stats. His player impact estimate (PIE) was third among players with at least 15 minutes per game.
Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat also received consideration. He actually had better numbers—18.7 points, 4.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds—but he wasn’t as big when the Heat needed him to be big. While LeBron James was on the bench in foul trouble, Wade scored just four, per the game log at Basketball-Reference. That’s why Ginobili beats him by a nose.
Small Forward: Paul George, Indiana Pacers
Paul George of the Indiana Pacers had a pretty good Game 5, and the Indiana Pacers needed him to have it. By “pretty good,” I mean 37 points, six steals, six rebounds and two assists.
He scored a whopping 21 points in the fourth quarter alone. He missed only two field-goal attempts on 12 attempts. It was a season-saving effort for the Pacer.
George averaged 25.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.7 steals this week. Kevin Durant, with 27.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists, had a better overall week. However, George gets the nod for basically putting the Pacers on his back and carrying them through the entire fourth quarter of a closeout game.
All due respect to Durant and LeBron James, the two greatest players in the world, but this was George’s week.
Power Forward: David West, Indiana Pacers; Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder
If David West has one solid playoff game after another, but the media isn’t around to notice it, does it make a sound?
West has been having a sturdy postseason and this week is no exception. He’s averaged 17.3 points on a very efficient .568 shooting and a league-high 8.7 boards. He added 3.3 assists for good measure.
West doesn’t turn in a lot of superstar performances. His best game of the series came in Game 5, though, with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting and nine rebounds. He’s not great, but he’s consistent and reliable, and that doesn’t always get recognized.
Serge Ibaka also had a huge impact for the Oklahoma City Thunder in coming off injury and salvaging a series that was headed for disaster. Ibaka’s presence was definitive, but his numbers (10.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks) weren’t that great.
Absent a dominant performance by a power forward, this week we recognize two Mr. Reliable Guys and award West and Ibaka for their weeks.
Center: Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat was the best center in the league this week, averaging 18.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists. That might sound like much, but the state of the position isn’t great.
No other center had even half as many points. It was a bad week for centers.
So, the competition was pretty thin.
Bosh gets the nod with a bit of a “meh” performance in a week in which he missed a shot that would have sent the Heat to the Finals. Maybe that’s why they did away with the position on the All-Star ballot.