Good news: We are still very early into the conference semifinals, meaning there is still a lot more trash-talking to be had, buzzer-beaters to be made and dunks to be slammed for the rest of the playoffs.
Bad news: We are already in May at the conference semifinals, meaning in a little over one month the NBA season will be over. And that sucks.
In order to cope with this depressing reality, we count down the ten best moments from the playoffs thus far.
*** *** ***
10. Someone doesn’t like Brooklyn
Though the Raptors were eventually defeated in seven games, Toronto’s charismatic general manager Masai Ujiri’s choice of words prior to Game 1 of the team’s first-round series against the Nets were both surprising and an exciting way to kick off the playoffs.
To pump up the crowd at Maple Leaf Square, Ujiri screamed “F*** Brooklyn” into the microphone, resulting in thunderous applause.
9. The King one-ups The Greatest
LeBron James threw down a monster dunk on a fast break during Game 3 of the Heat’s series against the Bobcats, but it wasn’t the dunk that was as memorable as what the game’s best player did while slamming it home. Though he would later deny the action, it appeared like James stared down Charlotte owner Michael Jordan as he leaped up for the jam, an interesting but honestly extremely cool move from The King.
8. McRoberts SMASH
James’ jam wasn’t the only one talked about in that series, though. In Game 1, Josh McRoberts of the Bobcats impressively dunked over Chris “Birdman” Andersen after receiving the ball from a cut to the basket. Unfortunately for Charlotte, they eventually got swept in four games.
Russell Westbrook–deservedly or not–receives criticism for his shot selection and unwillingness to hand the ball off to this season’s MVP Kevin Durant at times, but no one can deny his ridiculous four-point play in Game 3 against the Grizzlies. He was fouled on a made three-pointer, tying the game and eventually forcing overtime.
6. Jeff Teague’s ridiculous shot
The Pacers beat the Hawks in seven thrilling games, but if it wasn’t for Jeff Teague, Atlanta would have never even made the series exciting. Their star point guard delivered numerous big moments, including an off-balanced contested three-pointer to push the Hawks’ lead to ten late in Game 3.
5. Mike Scott gets hot
Maybe he was just tired of everyone talking about his tattoos? The “Young Emoji” brought his game to the court toward the end of the series against the Pacers, shooting 5-of-5 from three-point range in Game 5 before posterizing Ian Mahinmi in Game 6.
4. Westbrook saves the Thunder, again
The Thunder were down two with the clock winding down in Game 5, but Westbrook managed to pick the pocket of Mike Conley Jr. and take it to the other end for the dunk. Once again, the star point guard was able to lead Oklahoma City to overtime.
3. Pierce saves the Nets
The Nets and Raptors played an extremely competitive seven games, and the ending was no less dramatic than anticipated. With just seconds left in the series’ finale and Toronto down one point, Kyle Lowry drove to the basket to pull off the miraculous shot, but it was The Truth who intervened. Paul Pierce blocked the attempt as the buzzer sounded, securing the intense victory for Brooklyn as they advanced to the second round against the Heat.
2. The old-timer comes through
Vince Carter has been around the league a long time, but the 37-year-old hit one of the biggest shots of his storied career in Game 3 of these playoffs. Down by two to the one-seeded San Antonio Spurs, the Mavericks put their faith in VC and he delivered, draining a contested three-pointer at the buzzer to take the series lead.
1. Cold-blooded Lillard hits shot of the year
Almost everyone was thinking of Game 7 already as the Rockets led the Blazers 98-96 with just 0.9 ticks on the clock–except for Damian Lillard, that is. The 23-year-old caught the inbounds pass, pivoted and hoisted the ball in the air, just getting the shot off in time. As the improbable attempt fell through the hoop, the Moda Center erupted in celebration.
What was your favorite moment so far?
Follow Matt on Twitter at @MatthewHochberg.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.