NBA Playoffs 2011: The 15 Most Exciting Plays of the First Round Thus Far
If you're not an NBA fan right now, I'm not sure what to even categorize you as—does the word "lame" work?
Even I, filled with sorrow due to the last-place finish of my own team, sit on my couch, flipping through NBATV, TNT and ABC for hours at a time just to watch multi-millionaires shoot an orange ball into a hoop.
Already a week in, the playoffs have provided us with a multitude of plays that have caused jaws to drop, and several that just make you say "wow."
I have compiled a list of the 15 plays that have made NBA fans alike enjoy those hours spent watching the games, while at the same time reliving the days of their youth and wondering why they aren't there.
With that in mind, take a gander at the list. I hope you enjoy it.
15. Thaddeus Young Loses His Shoe, Then Makes a Dunk
Okay, so the play itself isn't all that amazing, but the fact that Thaddeus Young played right through losing his shoe is pretty cool.
The funniest part is when he tosses the sneaker into the crowd shortly afterward.
14. Rajon Rondo's Coast-to-Coast Layup
Who says Rajon Rondo can't score?
In Game 2, he poured in 30 points and led the Celtics to a close victory. Check out the video to see two of the most spectacular points he had on the night.
13. Chris Paul's Bullet Pass
Chris Paul is already widely known for his passing, but I don't think I've ever seen a more precise one-handed pass than this one.
He literally could be the New Orleans Saints' quarterback!
Oh wait, there's that fella by the name of Drew Brees.
He'd have some competition with CP3.
12. Rudy Fernandez Alley-Oop to Gerald Wallace
This alley-oop combination of Rudy Fernandez and Gerald Wallace makes you wonder...
The Trail Blazers have amazing chemistry, and it's crazy to think that a midseason addition like Wallace is one of the reasons Portland could be considered a contender in the West.
11. Serge Ibaka Denies Nene
In Game 1 of the series pitting the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Denver Nuggets, Serge Ibaka gave the hometown fans something to cheer for with a swat in the first quarter.
Ibaka, who is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has become a staple in the Thunder defense.
10. Dwyane Wade's Powerful Possession
This video is just another example of why Dwyane Wade is one of the best players in the game.
Plus, he just looks so cool every time he throws one down.
9. Dwight Howard's Nasty Block of Etan Thomas
If you were to look up "Defensive Player of the Year" in a basketball dictionary, there wouldn't be a definition; you'd simply find this picture.
Dwight Howard is a freak of nature and a beast in the post, and his block of Etan Thomas in a Game 2 victory is a picture perfect example of his awesome ability.
8. Amar'e Throws One Down on Jermaine O'Neal
Have you ever seen Kevin Garnett, one of the league's prime defenders in the post, get absolutely posterized the way Amar'e Stoudemire absolutely posterized him right here?
Stoudemire's playoff debut as a Knick featured 28 points and 11 rebounds, but his team went on to lose the game.
7. Jamal Crawford's 30-Footer
You know how they say, "he has NBA range" when a college player sinks a shot from way beyond the arc?
What would they say about Jamal Crawford's shot here to beat the buzzer?
6. Ray Allen's Game-Clincher
I know that the play itself doesn't wow you, but its impact on the series is evident.
Ray Allen—perhaps one of basketball's most clutch players ever—hits a three-pointer that ends up winning Game 1 for the C's.
5. Shane Battier's Three Lifts the Grizz to Victory
When you have a team chock-full of three-point shooters like O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley, it seems rather unlikely that a guy known for his defensive skills would nail the game-winner, but that's exactly what Shane Battier does in this video.
He later called it "the single craziest day of my life."
4. T.J. Ford's Amazing 65-Footer
To say that this is something the players practice every day would just be ludicrous, but the fact is that sometimes the ball falls right where you want it to, and that was ultimately the case for T.J. Ford.
This is an extremely pretty shot.
3. LeBron to Wade
2. Amar'e Stoudemire's 360 Layup
Amar'e Stoudemire had himself one heck of a Game 2. Before he demolished Jermaine O'Neal with a slam, Stoudemire had a truly amazing layup over O'Neal and "the Big Ticket."
Even if that play occurred for a hapless team, it'd make headlines.
1. Derrick Rose's Unbelievable Layup
The layup featured in this video is so good that even Charlie Sheen was impressed.
Derrick Rose, the NBA's likely Most Valuable Player this season, is truly an amazing athlete.
I'm not entirely sure what I should call this play, so I settled for the title above. I mean, the guy blocked the shot, then pulled this miracle off!
I guess the NBA's slogan is correct. Amazing happened here.
Joseph Fafinski is currently a freshman at the University of Missouri. Originally from Chaska, Minnesota, Joseph is an NBA and Minnesota Timberwolves Featured Columnist and a frequent writer on all things NBA, NFL and MLB. You can e-mail Joseph at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JosephFafinski.
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