The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
After a huge weekend of NBA Playoff games, Monday’s biggest news is that fifth-year Spurs wing Kawhi Leonard was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second season in a row. Leonard’s Spurs destroyed the injury-depleted Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 on Sunday, and for the second day in a row San Antonio emerges victorious, as Warriors power forward Draymond Green posed a real threat to Leonard’s chances at repeating. With that said, FOX Sports’ Michael Pina looks at how Leonard could be in line to win this award every season in the near future, and how his unique skill set and motor could make him the best defensive player in NBA history.
In a weekend filled with lopsided matchups, one of the big surprises was how tight the eighth-seeded Detroit Pistons hung with the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers. On top of the Cavs being NBA championship contenders, this was the first playoff game for four of Detroit’s five starting players, who all played really well for the majority of the game. Unfortunately for Stan Van Gundy, his group fell apart in the fourth quarter, but if he’s able to get his team to play the way it did for the majority of Game 1, this could be a real series.
Come on people, it shouldn’t be shocking that Blake Griffin — a guy who was vastly regarded as a top 10 player in the NBA before the 2015-16 season began and is still very much in the middle of his prime — looked great against Mason Plumlee, Ed Davis and whatever other “bigs” the Portland Trail Blazers are going to throw at him this series. Still, with the Clippers being the only team with home-court advantage in the Western Conference that fans think has a chance at losing its series, it only took one playoff game for basketball pundits to adjust their heads and realize they’re significantly more talented than their opponent. Griffin’s 19-point, 12-rebound, six-assist performance in Game 1 led the Clippers to a 20-point victory, but above all else, The Vertical’s Chris Mannix thinks Griffin’s return can fuel a long playoff run.
The Golden State Warriors did a ton right on Saturday to take Game 1 in their series against the Houston Rockets. Between outscoring them 33-15 in the first quarter, hitting 40 percent of their three point attempts and winning the rebounding war, the most impressive thing the Warriors were able to do was keep James Harden off the free throw line. That’s right, Houston’s scorer extraordinaire didn’t attempt a single free throw. CBS’s Zach Harper explains how the Warriors accomplished this unthinkable feat.
With so many players from past generations criticizing today’s NBA and refusing to give credit to some of today’s milestones, The Washington Post’s Jerry Brewer connected with several point guards to discuss the prowess of the position in today’s game. This deep dive takes a look at how rule changes have led to different styles of play, and even reveals a former NBA great admitting he couldn’t hang with today’s best players.