There is no I in team, but there are two in winning. The 2018 NBA playoffs have certainly shown fans that the teams have players with pure talent as well as some who have been struggling with under-performing on the court.
No. 1 Houston Rockets vs. No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves
Stud: James Harden has always been a top scorer and has displayed that since the first game in round one. Leading with an average of 30.4 points per game during the regular season, Harden had no problem translating that success into playoffs.
No. 5 Utah Jazz vs. No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder
Stud: Rookie Donovan Mitchell showed up and showed out against the Thunder in round one scoring an average of 28.5 points per game. This allowed the Jazz to advance to round two and solidified Mitchell’s position as a key player on the team. Despite losing point guard Ricky Rubio for 10 games, the Jazz were able to pull it off, thanks to Mitchell.
No. 6 New Orleans Pelicans vs. No. 3 Portland Trailblazers
Dud: The Blazers lost 4-0 against the Pelicans in round one of playoffs. Although the Blazers had both CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard averaging 20 points per game, they were no match for the Pelicans in the postseason.
No. 2 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 7 San Antonio Spurs
Stud: With Curry out due to injury, the Warriors had no problem picking up the slack and shutting down the Spurs’ dreams of moving on to round two. It comes as no surprise that Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are leading the Warriors in multiple categories of postseason stats such as blocks, points, rebounds, assists and steals.
No. 1 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 8 Washington Wizards
Dud: Ty Lawson was signed to the Wizards just two days before playoffs with the expectation that he would be a good contributor for the team. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite live up to his potential, only playing an average of 20 minutes and scoring an average of almost 10 points per game. The veteran Lawson will need to learn from Wizards starting point guard John Wall to gear up for next postseason.
No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Indiana Pacers
Stud: Victor Oladipo has been a star both offensively and defensively. No one really suspected that Oladipo would be balling out in the postseason, a prediction that he was happy to overturn. Oladipo is a player to watch.
No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Miami Heat
Stud: Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons from the 76ers were two key players in the matchup against the Heat. Both averaging about 20 points per game, Embiid and Simmons are players to keep an eye on in round two.
No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 Milwaukee Bucks
Dud: Eric Bledsoe of the Bucks made the mistake of calling out Celtic’s Terry Rozier in the postseason, resulting in Rozier becoming more of a key player. The Bucks did a lot to get Bledsoe on their team during the regular season, but despite being paired with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rozier and Boston were too much to overcome for the Bucks this year.
Courtney Chapman can be reached at [email protected] or @courtneychaps on Twitter.