While it has been an exciting playoffs so far, it has been one burdened by many injuries to players such as: Stephen Curry, Hassan Whiteside, Jonas Valancinuas, Chris Bosh and others. As a result of these injuries as well as the intensity of the playoffs, we have seen many players who have stepped up their game this postseason.
If you want to talk about the energy of these playoffs, then Bismack is the one to talk about. Bismack stepped up to the role of starting center in place of injured Jonas Valancinuas during the middle of the Miami Heat series. While he struggles from the free throw line, he gives the Raptors the X-factor and the needed energy to keep possessions alive. In the four games he has started this series, he has averaged an impressive 11 points, 12 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Biyombo possesses the defensive versatility to guard many positions and will be used heavily to guard players such as LeBron, Kevin Love, and others in the next series.
With the six games that Stephen Curry missed Klay Thompson simply balled out. In games where Curry has not played during these playoffs, Thompson has averaged 29.5 points. As fans we usually jump to Draymond Green as the next best player because of his ability to do everything on the court, but Thompson easily out played Green during this 6 game stretch. He played amazing defense on both James Harden and Damien Liliard throughout the first two rounds. He forced both players to shoot well below their season averages from the floor. Even with Curry back, look for Klay to receive more touches as he has proven himself to be a reliable scorer and overall player.
We all love to rip on this guy for maybe looking… well… different, but Adams is playing up to a higher level this postseason. After two monster games from LaMarcus Aldridge where he scored a combined 79 points, Adams only allowed Aldridge to score 82 points in the remaining four games. This included one game where Adams completely shut Aldridge down, allowing him to convert on only 6 of his 21 field goal attempts. Adams is receiving more minutes in the playoffs due to the intensity of his defense and rebounding. Adams is averaging 10 points and 10 boards a game this postseason, which is exactly what the Thunder need out of him. He is a defensive threat and needs to keep playing at a high level if the Thunder have any hope of advancing against the Warriors. It will be interesting to see if the Thunder change their starting lineup and adjust to the small ball tendencies of the Warriors.
When Steph Curry was out for two weeks with injuries, Shaun Livingston filled the point guard role. He has started 7 games during these playoffs and is averaging 11 points and 4.5 assists per game. While he lacks the scoring and shooting capabilities of Curry, he has impressive passing skills and is able to guard many positions. Also, at his height of 6'6", he is an imposing matchup for any point guard. With the return of Curry, Livingston's minutes will decrease but he has proven himself as a capable bench player who can score and play defense at a high level.
The Cleveland Bench:
Let’s give the Cavs some credit here. Okay they haven’t had the highest level of competition but they are undefeated in the playoffs and that is impressive. In the post season they won by an average margin of 10.5 points, which considering that this is the playoffs is very impressive. Players such as Channing Frye, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova have provided a much needed spark off the bench. With their rebounding, scoring, and defense, look for the Cavs to use their bench more against the Raptors.
It will be a fun playoffs for all those tuning in.
By Ian Riaf