With the 2019 NBA Playoffs in full swing, as every team is into the second round let’s look at the best individuals left, since playoff basketball so often comes down to isolation play.
1. Kevin Durant, Warriors
KD has been in MVP form all playoffs. Yes, he did have his struggles for a couple games against the Clippers, but he ended out the series with 95 combined points in Games 5 and 6 to send them home, and then a 35 point performance in Game 1 against the Rockets. As the Warriors look to be in what will be a hard-fought series, they will rely on him to keep this scoring up.
2. Damian Lillard, Trailblazers
It was very hard not to put Lillard at #1 on this list. He took on a very tough assignment, having to go shot for shot all series with Russell Westbrook, who is a physical handful to deal with. And, of course, he sent the Thunder out of the playoffs with- no hyperbole- one of the greatest playoff performances in NBA history, 50 points and a 35+ foot game winner in game 5. If he continues to play like he has, you could very well see the Blazers in the conference finals this year.
3. Kawhi Leonard, Raptors
Kawhi has played his typical, largely under-the-radar game, all playoffs so far. Performances of 45 points, 37 points, 34 points, and 27 points have been his highlights, but he is also shooting above 58% from the field, 51% from three, and is grabbing 7 rebounds a game. As (if) the Raptors continue to advance, his performances will gain more notoriety, but until then, he’ll continue to put in work without as much attention, just as he’d like it.
4. Kyrie Irving, Celtics
I think a lot of fans missed Kyrie Irving in last year’s playoffs and may have forgotten what a great big-game player he is. And now that he is on a team where he gets many of the late shots, he is showing what he can do on a big stage again. He is getting 23.4 points along with 8.4 assists in the playoffs, but along with this, his big shot making has been a constant throughout. Not just late game, but whenever it feels like the team needs a bucket, he has been there, and he will have to continue to be there for the Celtics to beat the Bucks.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Giannis may not take home the MVP this year, we will have to wait to find out, but he has certainly outplayed James Harden, his main competition in the race, in this year’s playoffs. He is putting up 25 a game along with 11 rebounds, shooting almost 50% from the field, and put up 41 points to send home the Pistons in Game 4 of the first round. The Bucks will need him to rebound from a poor game 1 performance against the Celtics in Game 1 of this second round in order for them to have a chance.