Week 7 All-NBA Playoff Team
The NBA Finals have started and the San Antonio Spurs have taken a 1-0 lead over the Miami Heat. The time when a new champion will be crowned is crawling ever closer.
At Bleacher Report, we’re picking an All-NBA team each week of the postseason. Players are chosen based on the whole week’s performance, though more emphasis was put on closeout games. Players who are on teams that lost their series were considered, but winning teams were given more weight. Both traditional box-score stats and advanced stats were taken into account.
Please note that only this week’s games, May 30-June 6, 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
Russell Westbrook went down swinging, as the Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Spurs in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. Westbrook gave a valiant effort, scoring 34 points, dishing eight assists and snaring seven rebounds. He swiped six balls, as well.
Since 1985, only Gary Payton of the Seattle SuperSonics (May 5, 2003) and Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls (twice) have matched those numbers in a playoff game. Unfortunately for Westbrook, he was the first to do so in a losing cause.
There weren’t really any other standout performances by point guards, so Westbrook gets the nod in spite of the losing effort.
Shooting Guard: Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
Manu Ginobili came out in Game 1 of the Finals like he was ready to make up for a less-than-stellar performance last year.
Ginobili was Mr. Everything for the Spurs, giving them what they needed when they needed it. In the first quarter, he came in with the game tied at nine. Tim Duncan hit the second of two free throws.
Ginobili contributed to the rest of the points scored in the quarter. He hit three treys and assisted on seven points and the Spurs were up 26-20.
He sat to start the second quarter and then scored or assisted on the first four points when he entered again. That's the picture. When Ginobili was in for San Antonio, he was controlling the game.
For the night, the Spurs were a plus-22 with Ginobili on the court, who totaled 16 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, three steals and a block. That’s enough to get him the nod this week.
Small Forward: HVAC Guy, San Antonio Spurs
The starting small forward this week is not LeBron James or Kevin Durant, the two best basketball players in the world. It’s not rising stars Paul George or Kawhi Leonard, either. It’s the “LeBron Stopper,” the HVAC repairman for the Spurs who let the air conditioning go.
Who knew that heat was the key to stopping the Heat? For all you do, Mr. San Antonio HVAC Repairman, this Bud’s for you.
In seriousness, though, to be fair to James, he doesn’t deserve criticism for having cramps. This is not the kind of thing you can just “play through” like a flu. OrthoInfo.com defines them as thus: “A cramp is an involuntary and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax.” The operative words are “involuntary” and “forcibly.”
This may come as news to some people, but athletes actually need their muscles to do what they’re told to do in order to perform.
At the same time, presupposing a Heat win without cramping is spurious (pun intended). The Spurs led for 28:40 of the game, compared with just 15:35 for Miami. The Spurs were down by only two with 7:31 left in the fourth when James left the game. It’s not like a home team has never come back from a two-point deficit.
And the Heat and Spurs were even with James on the court for the night, so it’s not like James was dominating the game, either.
All that said, if you want to give the award for the week to an actual play, James averaged 25.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the week, the best numbers for a small forward. But, Game 1 belongs to San Antonio.
Power Forward: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
In addition there’s this from Elias, per ESPN:
Tim Duncan made nine of his ten field-goal attempts, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds, in Game One against Miami. Duncan became only the third player since the NBA introduced the shot clock in 1954 to have a 20-and-10 (points-and-rebounds) Finals game in which he made at least 90 percent of his shots from the floor. The others? Chamberlain and Russell. Wilt had 26 points, 20 rebounds and shot 9-of-10 from the floor for the Lakers against the Knicks in Game Three of the 1972 Finals; Bill had 23 points, 25 rebounds and made 10 of 11 shots for the Celtics in Game Two of the 1965 Finals against the Lakers.
So, yeah, doing something that hasn’t been done in 42 years kind of gets you the nod for the best at your position for the week. In fact, we’re giving him player of the week honors, as well.
Center: Boris Diaw, San Antonio Spurs
I’m going a little off book here and taking Boris Diaw as the center, even though he’s not the starter. He averaged 14.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 34.6 minutes per game. More importantly, his impact was tremendous, as the Spurs outscored their opponents by 30.4 points per 100 possessions while he was on the court.
Per Matt Moore of CBS Sports, Tim Duncan said of Diaw's Western Conference Finals performance:
Boris was amazing. He's had an unbelievable series all around. He's played well and he's found a way to be effective when they went small, against their small guys in the post. He's attacked Serge real well the entire series, shot the ball well, tried to pull Serge away from the basket.
He made plays all around and I think he's just gotten into a comfort zone where he knew where shots were coming from. He knew how he could attack these guys and he did exactly that tonight. He made some shots, made some big ones for us and really carried us tonight.