Saturday marked the opening of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. The postseason is when stars play like stars. Here are five stars to keep any eye on this postseason.
No. 5: James Harden
There is always a chance of playing your former teammate in games that matter after you make a trade inside a conference.
Oklahoma City is about to find that out first hand.
James Harden and his Houston Rockets are the 8th seed in the Western Conference and Oklahoma City finished as the top seed. Let the games begin.
Not only will Harden play a major role in who wins the series but he gets to be the main man on a playoff team and that’s something he believes he can handle.
Harden averaged a career-high 25.9 points per game this season. He hasn’t been a three-point kind of player this year, making only two per game, so expect him to be doing what he does best: getting to the rim at will.
It’s his team now and he’s the go-to player. This is exactly what he thinks he is and now it’s time to prove it.
No. 4: Carmelo Anthony
Isn’t it time for Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks to do something in the postseason? It’s been a long time since New York made any type of noise in the playoffs and Anthony has only won one playoff series since coming into the league in 2003.
Against a bruised Boston Celtics team, Anthony has to get it done, right? I mean, he’s obviously a superstar and this year’s NBA scoring champion but doesn’t he have to do something in the postseason?
How long will we continue to give him a pass? It’s been 10 years in the league and just one trip out of the first round?
It’s time for him to step up in the postseason and deliver at least a first round victory. In reality though, he should at least get his team to the conference finals.
No. 3: Manu Ginobili
San Antonio goes as Manu Ginobili goes. When he’s healthy and active, San Antonio is a championship threat. When he’s injured and on the sidelines, the Spurs are a completely different team.
Ginobili is the heart and soul of the Spurs. He can do a little on the perimeter, can drive the basketball with the best of them and he can do the little things to help his team win.
But he has issues staying healthy. He didn’t play a fourth of the season (22 games) because of injuries.
Last year San Antonio bowed out early because of Ginobili’s injury issues. If he stays healthy this year, there is no reason why the Spurs can’t make it to the NBA Finals.
No. 2: Dwight Howard
No Kobe Bryant means Dwight Howard is now the main man in Los Angeles. We have seen Howard take his team to the NBA Finals in this role before in Orlando.
He did it once; expect him to be on top of his game once again.
All Howard does is post double-doubles. He averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds this year while allowing Kobe to run the show.
This all happened on a new team with two new coaches and two different styles. Considering all the scrutiny, his season hasn’t been nearly as bad as people think.
But all that will mean nothing if he can’t make some noise in the postseason. He was brought to Los Angeles not only for this year’s run but when Bryant retires down the line.
Instead of waiting a couple years to prove what he can do as the main man, we’ll get a glimpse right now.
No. 1: LeBron James
How can LeBron James not be the No. 1 player on this list? He made the statements of not one, not two, not three, not four, etc. when referring to NBA titles he and the Heat will win. He’s ready to back his talk for the second consecutive year.
James is in the prime of his career, playing some of the best basketball you will ever see. He averaged 27 points, seven assists and eight rebounds per game this season.
Is there any way James can play better this postseason than he did last year? I mean, we are talking about the winner of the NBA Finals MVP.
Yes, yes he can. James is shooting 69 percent in the month of April. He has played consistently well in a season where Miami could have well been coasting to the postseason.
Now the real fun begins. Now is when his game will be turned up to the next level, believe it or not.
Expect a dynamic postseason once again. And he starts with Milwaukee, a team that is ranked 20th in the league in points allowed. He’s about to get the postseason party started in a BIG way.