The 2014-15 NBA Playoffs have begun, and we’ve now finished all Game 1’s in an entertaining weekend that saw seven of eight teams win their home games. There were also some stunning debuts as some of league’s rising stars played in their first playoff games. We take a look at the top five playoff debuts from this weekend, starting with number 5:
5. Isaiah Thomas, PG, Boston Celtics
Game 1 @ Cleveland Cavaliers: 22 points, 6-14 FG, 2-5 3PT, 8-8 FT, 5 rebounds, 10 assists
The 60th pick in the 2011 Draft (the one where Kyrie Irving went number one overall) had a great playoff debut Sunday against the Cavs. Even more impressive was the fact that he came up big off the bench, continuing to provide an all-around spark for the Celtics as a reserve. Almost everyone is betting against the Celtics in this series, but this series will likely be Thomas’ coming out party as a top-notch scorer in the NBA.
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4. Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls
Game 1 vs. Milwaukee Bucks: 23 points, 9-16 FG, 3-7 3PT, 2-2 FT, 7 assists, 2 steals
This wasn’t Rose’s actual playoff debut, as he led his team to his first playoffs back in the 2008-09, but Rose hasn’t seen a playoff game since April 2012 due to a handful of severe knee injuries and tears. Finally, Rose was able to return to the playoffs, and he actually looked in form. Driving hard to the basket and pulling up from downtown gave us a look at the vintage Rose from his 2011 MVP season. It’s great to see Rose back out there en route to another Cavs-Bulls playoff series.
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3. Kevin Love, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Game 1 vs. Boston Celtics: 19 points, 5-14 FG, 2-4 3PT, 7-8 FT, 12 rebounds, 4 assists
Two of the most highly anticipated debuts came in Game 1 of the Cavs-Celtics series. Kevin Love did not disappoint, scoring 19 points with 12 rebounds and working the low post like the 26 and 12 Kevin Love of Minnesota. Love was an absolute workhorse down low which led to eight free throw attempts, and the Celtics big men had no answer for Love’s inside-outside game, as Love also hit two threes.
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2. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Game 1 vs. Boston Celtics: 30 points, 11-21 FG, 5-9 3PT, 3-5 FT, 3 rebounds, 2 assists
Kyrie Irving was the second player in the Cavs-Celtics series with the most anticipated debut. Irving did not disappoint as Irving scored 30 points, hitting shots from all over the floor. From his crafty layups to his deep, buzzer-beating three-pointers, Irving had a memorable game for the Cavs in his debut that saw 20 first half points.
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1. Anthony Davis, PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans
Game 1 @ Golden State Warriors: 35 points, 13-23 FG, 9-10 FT, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks
Davis had a monster of a matchup against the best team in the NBA for his playoff debut. Despite facing a tough Warriors team in front of their raucous Warriors crowd, Davis was able to lead his Pelicans back from a 25 point deficit and get within four points, putting a scare into the hearts of the Warriors’ fans. Davis scored 20 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, showing signs that he may have found ways to exploit the Golden State defense.