The votes for the MVP award are already in, but it might still be fun to track how our candidates are performing in the postseason so far. This could end up being fun to debate as well, so let’s have a look at the performances of the Day 1 superstars:
1. Derrick Rose
Short of coaching the Chicago Bulls, I’m not sure Derrick Rose could have done more than what he did in Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers. He set the tone by repeatedly attacking the basket and getting himself to the line and also feeding his big men at the rim where they either converted or got fouled. Also, Rose made a floater to tie the game late and then came back and set up Kyle Korver for the game deciding 3-point basket.
Signature play: You could literally pick any of the amazing plays he made, but the game-tying floater was beauty.
Area of concern: Darren Collison beat him off the dribble with a lot of regularity.
2. Dwight Howard
It’s a bird? It’s a plane? No it’s Wilt! Um I mean Dwight Howard. D12 had an incredible performance against the Atlanta Hawks, as he just routinely got position in the post and found ways to score. He took the hits, and shrugged them off for an outstanding performance. It got to the point that the Hawks almost ran out of defenders to throw at him.
Some might wonder why Dwight’s performance landed him in the #2 spot behind Rose, and well it’s essentially what probably will keep him at #2 when the MVP voting is announced: one guy’s team won more than the other’s. Is it fair to Howard? Probably not. But at the end of the day, it’s the same reason that Kobe Bryant got the All-Star Game MVP trophy despite the fact that LeBron James notched the second ever triple double in All-Star Game history; because his team won.
Signature play: The block on the Ethan Thomas dunk was easily the play that displayed just how dominant Howard was on this night.
Area of concern: Dwight Howard has to display more discipline on the court and avoid silly fouls (he had five in Game 1) and also show a bit more focus to avoid turnovers (eight in Game 1).
3. LeBron James
Much like we have become accustomed to over the course of his career, LeBron did it all in Game 1. He got himself to the line, he rebounded, defended, guarded bigger and smaller players and helped his teammates get into the flow of their first playoff game as a unit.
Signature play: LeBron James made an impressive reverse lay up in transition that was a thing of beauty.
Area of concern: If the Heat are truly going to be a force to be reckoned with during the series, LeBron James will have to do much better than his 4-for-14 field goal shooting from Game 1.
4. Dirk Nowitzki
With the world tuning in to watch the Trail Blazers celebrate on the Mavericks court, Dirk Nowitzki stepped up late in the game to make sure that would did not happen. Indeed, Disco Dirk scored 18 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to help Dallas win Game 1.
Signature play: With Dallas leading by 1 down the stretch, the Mavs turned to Dirk who took the ball in the high post, backed his man down, scored and got fouled in the process (2:20 mark in the video).
Area of concern: The Mavericks will need Nowitzki to shoot better than 7-fo-20 in Game 2 and also to do a better job protecting the ball (six turnovers in Game 1).
5. Dwyane Wade
Not a typical Dwyane Wade stat line, but he did enough to get his team the win. Wade faced some foul trouble during Game 1, which limited his production, but he did just enough for his team to get the home win. Indeed, with the game hanging in the balance late in the fourth quarter, the Heat put the ball in the hands of Dwyane Wade and he delivered, as Miami closed out the game and took a 1-0 series lead.
Signature play: With the 76ers threatening late in what was a three-point game at the time, Wade drove the ball left and shot a floater off the glass as he got fouled. The Heat would go on to win.
Area of concern: Clearly Wade must avoid foul trouble to remain on the floor to help his teammates.