The first round of the NBA playoffs is nearly over, as four of the eight teams have already advanced to the second round. Cleveland, Washington, Golden State, and Houston are the four teams awaiting either the Bucks or Bulls, Hawks or Nets, Grizzlies of Blazers, and Los Angeles or San Antonio. In what has been quite the interesting first round, we look at the top five playoff duos in the NBA so far, starting with number five:
5. James Harden and Dwight Howard
Harden: 28.4 pts, 3.8 reb, 7.8 ast, 1.2 stl
Howard: 16.6 pts, 13.8 reb, 1.2 ast, 1.6 stl, 3.0 blk
James Harden and Dwight Howard, a duo that we haven’t seen often this season due to Howard’s recurring injuries, have been one of the best duos this postseason. They’re doing everything offensively and defensively, and they defeated the Mavericks handily in five games. Harden, Howard, and the Rockets will be facing either the San Antonio Spurs or the Lost Angeles Clippers in the second round next week.
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4. Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan
Leonard: 23.4 pts, 7.0 reb, 3.0 ast, 1.6 stl
Duncan: 17.2 pts, 10.8 reb, 3.8 ast, 1.8 stl, 2.0 blk.
The Spurs are known for being an all-around great team, but their duo consisting of the Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and the oldest guy in the playoffs in Tim Duncan have been playing at an incredibly high level in the playoffs thus far. Duncan has been showing glimpses of his vintage self while Leonard, who’s noted for his defense, has been lighting it up from all over the floor in the Spurs first round series with the Spurs. The winner of the Spurs/Clippers series will face the Houston Rockets. San Antonio leads 3-2 with Game 6 on Thursday.
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3. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin
Paul: 22.6 pts, 5.2 reb, 6.8 ast, 1.6 stl
Griffin: 23.8 pts, 13.4 reb, 7.2 ast, 1.8 stl, 1.2 blk
Chris Paul has been a man on a mission this postseason, and his running mate/sidekick in Blake Griffin hasn’t been so shabby himself. CP3 has been shooting over 54% for the entire five-game series so far. Griffin is actually fourth in assists in the playoffs right now behind John Wall, James Harden, and J.J. Barea while ahead of Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, and his own teammate Chris Paul! The Clippers are on the brink of elimination and will have to win two consecutive games to advance and play the Rockets in the next round.
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2. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson
Curry: 33.8 pts, 5.3 reb, 7.3, 1.3 stl
Thompson: 25.0 pts, 3.3 reb, 2.0 ast, 0.8 stl, 1.3 blk
The Warriors made quick work of the New Orleans Pelicans after three tightly contested games. The Pelicans were swept because of the the play by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, arguably the NBA’s best backcourt. The duo averaged 58.8 points per game and made an average of nine three pointers alone. Curry, Thompson and the Warriors await the winner of the Grizzlies/Blazers series as their second round opponent. Memphis currently leads it 3-1.
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1. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving
James: 27.0 pts, 9.0 rebs, 6.5 ast, 2.3 stl, 1.5 blk
Irving: 23.3 pts, 5.0 reb, 4.3 ast, 1.0 stl 1.0 blk
There’s no other way to say it: this pair is just absolutely relentless on the court and therefore, also partner up to be the best duo in the playoffs this season. The numbers James and Irving put together in star studded performances are second to none in this year’s playoffs, and they’ll try to continue their run without the services of Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, who are very key guys for the Cavs championship aspirations. The Cavs swept Boston and are currently awaiting the winner of the Bucks/Bulls series, as they’ll face one of those two teams in the second round. Chicago leads the series 3-2.