Playoff Assist: The weapons of opening weekend play Wednesday
How can Dwyane Wade, Josh McRoberts, Tim Duncan, Wesley Matthews, and James Harden continue to assist their respective teams? We discuss.
The NBA Playoffs have begun and we're taking a look at the players, lineups, and moments assisting teams the most during the postseason action.
1) Dwyane Wade is still really good and he showed it against the Bobcats in Game 1
Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade is still a very good player, even though we can trying to chronicle his demise on a basketball court. Against a very good man defender in Gerald Henderson and a good defense in general with the Charlotte Hornets , Wade had 23 points, five assists, and just one turnover. He scored from all over the floor, including five of his 10 makes in the restricted area. He showed a quickness that has been inconsistent in the past year or so.
The thing to remember about Wade right now is he’s rested up quite a bit this season, playing in only 54 games. He’s really only had recent health problems in the playoffs when he bangs that troublesome knee and that’s when the intensive treatment starts. So let’s wrap his knee in bubble wrap and hope Michael Beasley doesn't get distracted trying to pop the bubbles.
2) Josh McRoberts is an actual weapon for the Charlotte Bobcats
Not only did Josh McRoberts de-feather the Birdman but he showed his complete set of skills on the court. He can get out and run the floor, he’s an active defender, he’s very athletic, he can make passes, and he can shoot the three. In a way, he’s like a middle management version of Chris Bosh . He had 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals while hitting 3-of-5 from downtown.
Can he keep that up against the Heat? Probably not enough to really hurt Miami but he’s going to have a couple more moments in this series in which people realize he’s a pretty good basketball player. He's the type of versatile big man just about any contender would want in their rotation. He can be a free agent this summer if he declines his $2.7 million player option for next season.
3) Tim Duncan was all business in Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks
We had a scare with Tim Duncan’s knee being banged into in Game 1 and when he came back into the game, it looked like he was interested in getting as much rest as possible. Duncan was surgical down the stretch of that game, scoring 17 of his 27 in the second half on 7-of-9 shooting. He was 4-or-5 for 9 points in the decisive fourth quarter. It seemed whenever they needed a basket, Duncan or Tony Parker stepped up and provided it.
The Mavs can’t get away with using Dirk on him for extended stretches because that will wear Dirk out. That means you’re playing Brandan Wright who is too thin or Samuel Dalembert who is not good. Duncan has the advantage in most match-ups and has for nearly two decades. The San Antonio Spurs should ride him as a weapon a little more right now, take care of business against the Mavs, and get some rest after a short series.
4) Wesley Matthews is the perfect role player for the Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers have a certain attitude about their team and in a way Wesley Matthews embodies it perfectly. He’s one of those shooting guards who just loves to work and that’s what he did all season long, including the Game 1 victory. He had 18 points on 16 shots in Game 1 and actually missed 6 of his 7 3-point attempts. But he kept remaining a threat on the court and never shied away from taking those shots.
The Houston Rockets know he can’t get loose because he made 39% on over 500 3-point attempts this season. He’s also a pretty solid defender and gives Chandler Parsons and James Harden as much resistance as you could hope for. He doesn’t demand the ball but when it comes to him, he loves to take teams down with his jumper. He doesn't shy away from the moment, which seems like the Blazers' mantra this season.
5) James Harden's trips to the free throw line have to continue and increase
James Harden had an atypical 27 points on 28 shots in the Game 1 loss. He really forced the action thanks to some good Blazers defense against him. In the process, he went to the free throw line 10 times, making eight of them. That's a good total of trips to the line, but that’s really not enough for him in this series.
He needs to do more of that head-jerk move that you’ll see some person do in a public park and not know whether they’re dodging a bee buzzing around their head or if they’re just crazy. He does that on drives and he really needs to sell the contact he’s creating. I’m not condoning flopping but if it helps them get the victory and move to the second round, you have to do what you have to do. He needs much more efficient scoring nights and that happens for him when he's getting to the line.
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