The NBA Playoffs is the time for great players to have great moments. Only half way through the 2015 playoffs we have seen extraordinary plays and performances. It is during this time of year that legends are made and history is written. No champion has been crowed yet, but here are the top 10 MVP’s of the playoffs thus far:
10. Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans
It may seem a bit strange to see the name of a player on a team that has been eliminated. But AD’s numbers and impact were just too good to be left off the list. Fighting to enter the playoffs as the 8th seed, Anthony Davis had a career year. Had it not been for an injury, he very well could have been the regular season MVP. Although the Warriors swept the Pelicans in the first round, the games may have been a lot more ugly if it weren’t for Davis. He averaged 31.5 points, 3 blocks, and shot 54%. Anthony Davis and his Pelicans may not have made a huge playoff run this season, but they will be a force for years to come.
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9. John Wall – Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards have been the most surprising team in these playoffs. Late in the regular season they weren’t playing well and looked as if they were coasting. Going up against an energetic Raptors team and crowd in the first round looked like it would be a good series. It was the opposite of that, the Wizards swept the Raptors fairly easily and a big reason for that is John Wall. Wall is the heart and soul if this young team. Throughout these playoffs he averages 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 12.6 assists. He facilitates their offense, hustles, is a great defender, and a pretty good scoring punch also. Wall has suffered an injury in the series vs. Atlanta but Washington has held up strong. When and if Wall returns, the Wizards could be dangerous.
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8. Jimmy Butler – Chicago Bulls
Oh boy, has this Bulls vs. Cavs series gotten good. One thing is for certain, if Jimmy Butler weren’t playing like he is, the series would be totally different. There are very few guys in the NBA who can guard LeBron James. Jimmy Butler can and he has done it well so far. He has held LeBron to an extremely low shooting percentage and is not letting him get anything easy. Not only is Butler playing tremendous defense, but also he is scoring and shooting at an efficient rate. Averaging 22.6 points and shooting 44.5% (39.7% from behind the arc). Jimmy has had such a huge impact on this Bulls team and their ability to defend; it would be impossible to keep him off this list.
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7. James Harden – Houston Rockets
James Harden was number 2 in MVP voting during the regular season. It is safe to say he is doing just as well if not better during the postseason. He is scoring just 0.7 less points and bringing down 1.5 less rebounds. But he is shooting a better percentage from the field, behind the arc, and at the free throw line. Harden is dishing out 1.3 more assists and doing it in just 4 more minutes. Houston does look like they are in trouble vs. the Clippers, but they would not be in the second round at all if it weren’t for James Harden.
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6. Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul missed two games to start off the Clippers second round series with the Rockets. He missed them because he was nursing and resting a strained hamstring he suffered in probably the biggest game of his career thus far in the pivotal Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs. Paul averaged 22.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, and 2.0 steals per game as the Clippers came out victorious in what could be the series, and game, of the year. In this do-or-die postseason for the Clippers, Paul has delivered and has them on his way to their first ever Western Conference Finals.
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5. Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls
The resurgence of D-Rose in this postseason has been huge for the NBA. Finally Derrick is looking a lot more like the player who won MVP just a few years ago. His play was a bit inconsistent during the first round vs. Milwaukee. But in the Bulls current series against the Cavs, Rose looks great. He has carried this Bulls team to two victories over the Cavs during the first four games. Including a road win in game 1. Not only that, but hit the biggest shot of his career banking in a 3 pointer at the buzzer to beat the Cavs in game 3. If Derrick Rose keeps up with this level of play, the Cavs should be fearful of their title hopes.
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4. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
The regular season MVP has made the list. Although Curry’s field goal and 3 point percentage have taken a considerable dive in the post season, he continues to carry his team. Curry does have support and good role players around him but you don’t win playoff series with role players. As the leader and superstar of this team he has done everything in his power to get the Warriors to where they are now. Curry averages 28.4 points and 6.9 assists. He is facilitating the offense and getting the team points when they’re most needed. If the Warriors are going to have any chance at a title, Steph will be the one who carries them.
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3. Marc Gasol – Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are the most underrated team in the NBA every year. This team deserves more respect than it receives. They rolled right over the Blazers in 5 games and are now giving the Warriors an extremely hard time. The Grizzlies have created huge problems for the Warriors. Memphis is a grind it out, defensive minded, post presence team. This is largely because of their big Spanish center, Marc Gasol. Gasol is the reigning defensive player of the year and an MVP candidate this season. In the playoffs he has played well and improved on some of his regular season numbers. Marc may not be a sexy pick for this list, but he is very deserving of his number 3 spot. Any time a team is threatening to knock off the #1 seed, the best player deserves a nod.
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2. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers came into this postseason as heavy favorites to win the NBA championship. A lot has happened since then, Kevin Love sustained a season ending shoulder injury and Kyrie Irving is struggling with foot and knee injuries. Not only that but J.R. Smith was suspended the first two games of the second round and LeBron was left to play with a bunch of young guys with minimal playoff experience. The Cavs beat the Celtics in the first round fairly easily but not without sacrifice, losing one of their Big Three. Not having Kevin Love on the floor has made a huge and obvious impact on the offense. Luckily guys like Shumpert and Thompson have stepped up and played huge roles. With Kyrie and Kevin Love hurt LeBron has had to change his game. Whether it is taking charges, blocking shots, shooting the ball, passing the ball, sitting on the bench, or hitting a game winning shot in the corner, LeBron is doing whatever he can to help Cleveland win. Nothing is more important to LeBron than winning. Without James the Cavs would lose their best player and leader. With minimal production from the guys around him other than being role players, James has carried this team through their series with the Bulls. Had LeBron been shooting a better percentage and not turning the ball over so much, he would be #1 on this list.
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1. Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers
And the NBA postseason MVP thus far goes to…. Blake Griffin. This was an easy decision based on the Clippers play and Blake’s performance. The Clippers took down the beast. They beat the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, something not many people believed could be done. San Antonio has won the Western Conference the past 2 seasons and looked like they had a chance to do it again this year. But they ran into the wrong team with too much talent. Blake has recorded three triple doubles in this postseason so far. He averages 24.7 points, 13 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and is shooting 49%. Not only are those numbers impressive but also the Clippers are up 3-1 on the Houston Rockets. And to put the cherry on top Chris Paul has been fighting an injury making Blake really carry this team. All of the credit shouldn’t go to the Blake show; the entire Clippers team has been good. If Griffin, Chris Paul, and the rest of the Clippers keep up this level of play, you could be seeing a different color banner going up in the Staples Center in June.