Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Who or what has impressed you so far this postseason?
Steve Aschburner: The Knicks. I’ve long been a skeptic of whatever comes out of Madison Square Garden, NBA-wise, because of media hype and team management’s infatuation frequently with the wrong types of players. But the Knicks apparently have the right coach and Mike Woodson has been getting those guys to play the right way. This edition of the Celtics has injury and age issues, sure, but the way New York’s defense has choked Boston off in the second halves of the first two games has to grab one’s attention.
Fran Blinebury: Chris Paul is averaging 23.5 points, 8 assists, shooting 16-for-28 from the field, hit the game-winner on Monday night and has the Clippers up 2-0 on Memphis. Mark me down as impressed.
Jeff Caplan: Since I spent the opening games of the playoffs in Los Angeles watching the Clippers, I’m going with three aspects of this team’s impressive start: Chris Paul, the bench and coach Vinny Del Negro — that’s right Del Negro. Paul’s been masterful, patiently allowing the game to come to him and playing superbly in crunch time with 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting, three assists and no turnovers in the fourth quarters of Games 1 and 2. The Clippers’ deep bench has at times out played Memphis’ starters and has received contributions from a number of players. As for Del Negro, he has his team well-prepared, motivated and he hasn’t succumbed to the notion that rotations must shrink in the playoffs. He’s getting solid contributions and keeping his starters’ minutes extremely reasonable.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Maybe because I as there to see it, but the Nuggets winning Game 1 without their preferred tempo was an impressive start to what could be a nice run. Everyone knows Denver can win when it runs. To grind out a victory while having to execute at the end of a close game is a good sign.
John Schuhmann: I’m impressed by how efficient the Clippers have been against the league’s No. 2 defense. I had the Grizzlies winning that 4-5 series in six games, because they’re the much better defensive team and because the Clips seemingly treaded water for the last couple of months. But Chris Paul has flipped the switch, taking on a bigger scoring load (47 points to go along with his 16 assists in the first two games) and still taking care of the ball (only two turnovers) against a D that has always been good at forcing miscues.
Sekou Smith: It’s early yet, but the Golden State Warriors showed me something in their Game 2 win over the Nuggets in Denver. Losing David Lee for the remainder of the playoffs is a blow. Any team that loses an All-Star and the league-leader in double doubles would struggle without him. But coach Mark Jackson pushed buttons on his deep roster and found several guys (most notably rookie Harrison Barnes) to step up and fill the void. This was the one series where I felt like the lower seed had a real chance to push the series into the seven-game realm and so far, the Warriors have made me feel really good about that prediction. When shooters like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and perhaps the most underrated player in the league this season, Jarrett Jack, get rolling, they can turn a game upside down. They shot 65 percent in a playoff game, folks. Crazy.
Lang Whitaker: I was a little curious about the Pacers coming in to the playoffs, because they’d lost five of six and had looked pretty bad at times over that stretch, but Paul George decided he wasn’t going to let the Pacers down. I know it’s been a small sample size, but George was phenomenal in Game 1 against the Hawks. He was Indiana’s best offensive player, repeatedly driving and either getting to the line (he shot 17-of-18 on free throws) or kicking to open teammates (he finished with 12 assists), and he pressured Josh Smith into shooting an array of long jumpers as the shot clock was ticking down.