Stars of the Hardwood

Thanks to a mutual love of the Bill Simmons Podcast, we decided to pick the best players of each game of the playoffs.We’ve gone back as far as the deciding games of the East and Western Conference Semifinals and may go further if Cleveland continues to dominate Toronto (decent chance).

We’ll update it as the playoffs go on, picking our Stars of the Hardwood. 

May 18: Warriors-Thunder Game 2, Warriors 118, Thunder 91

Max: Obviously Steph Curry right? He scored 15 points in less than two minutes in the third quarter and ripped Oklahoma City’s collective hearts out. It was the kind of explosion only Curry and the Warriors are capable of.

Kelly: Oh there’s no doubt in my mind. Those 15 points – he was on a 15-2 run against the Thunder. He scored 15 in a row, while they scored you know 2…He was absolutely incredible and did all this after flying head first into the crowd.

Max: Shoutout to the “bring my camera to the game” guy.

Kelly: Oh my god yes. The one that like got on the floor to get the best angle? Incredible.

May 17: Cavaliers-Raptors Game 1, Cavs 115, Raptors 84

Max: I’m going LeBron here and for one reason only. This picture:

And we thought deflategate was over…

Kelly: You take all of the good ones. Lebron played basically three quarters and scored 24 points, and because of that he barely played the 4th quarter. In the playoffs. Get out of here.

May 16: Warriors-Thunder Game 1, Thunder 108, Warriors 102

Kelly: Ok this has to be Russell Westbrook. I know Kevin Durant had the killer bucket that put the Thunder up for good, but he was absolutely brutal before that. I mean for a guy who shot around what 30 percent from three during the year? Look at this!

Max: I’m torn here. Westbrook scoring 19 in the third quarter alone probably makes him deserving, but I thought at least eight of those points (the three jumpers Curry contests in that highlight, for example) came from bad shots that just went down. I want to give credit to Durant for playing the entire second half. He went cold in the fourth and ended up with a bad shooting night overall, but the 17-footer he hit with with 30 seconds left ended the game. Points to the Slim Reaper.

May 15: Raptors-Heat Game 7, Raptors 116, Heat 89

Max: Easily Kyle Lowry. After shooting horribly in round 1 and Game 1 of that series and then spending all night in the gym, Lowry rediscovered his game at the perfect time. He scored 35 points in the biggest game in Raptors’ franchise history and validated Toronto’s great regular season.

Kelly: Kyle Lowry – who I continually call Dwight Lowry #biasedjetsfan – had an absolutely incredible game. And took over when his team needed him the most. Although if I had a second star – Bismack Biyombo would get it for filling in for Jonas Valanciunas and pulling down 16 rebounds.

Max: I agree. I badly want the Nets to throw huge money at Biyombo this summer and not only because it’d be wildly entertaining to hear Ian Eagle say his name for 82 games.

May 13: Raptors-Heat Game 6, Heat 103, Raptors 91

Max: The Dragon, Goran Dragic gets my vote here. Watching him all season was disappointing. He never really found a rhythm with Dwyane Wade. But that looks like a distant memory in the playoffs. Miami is at its best when Dragic is aggressive and driving to the bucket and he has been huge in helping the Heat form a small-ball identity this postseason.

Kelly: I want to cheat on this a little and say the Miami defense. I mean they held DeMar DeRozan to 8-21 shooting and everybody but DeRozan and Lowry to 32 points. 32 points!

Max: And they did that with Josh McRoberts and a beyond-washed-up Amare Stoudemire playing center! Erik Spoelstra deserves so much credit for getting his team to play that well defensively.

May 12: Thunder-Spurs Game 6, Thunder 113, Spurs 99

Max: Kevin. Durant. He scored 37 points on 12-24 shooting and went 12-12 at the foul line. I still have trouble believing he torched Kawhi Leonard as much as he did in games 2-6 of that series.

Kelly: I still have problems believing the Thunder did this to the Spurs in Game 6. The Spurs! Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard and Lamarcus Aldridge! How! But anyways, star of the game, I have to say Kevin as well although Steven Adams showed me a lot playing the second most minutes on the team, shooting 6 for 7 and grabbing 11 rebounds.

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