Last Night’s Numbers – 5/2/12
Kyle Soppe also writes about the NBA for Pickin’ Splinters. Follow him on Twitter.
If a series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game, the 2012 postseason officially got under way last night, with two of three games going to visitors. The most “valuable” player in two of last night’s games may not be the name that jumped out of the box score at you, but point total isn’t always the true indicator of value.
Celtics @ Hawks
MVP: Avery Bradley
Rajon Rondo‘s replacement filled in admirably, and for one night, the Celtics were able to thrive without their top player. Bradley contributed across the board, tallying the second most minutes, a 62.5 TS%, 3 steals, 3:1 assist to turnover ratio, 3 blocked shots, and a +8 plus/minus differential. Simply put, Boston was a better team with Bradley on the court than off of it, and that’s all they asked from him on this night. His shooting percentage and blocked shots added a dimension that Rondo doesn’t bring to the table, and he served as the straw that stirred the Celtics’ drink on both ends of the court. Paul Pierce can thank Bradley for headlines highlighting his 36 points, as opposed to the back page story mentioning his 12/26 shooting and 8 turnovers. Bradley was crucial in this win, and has provided Celtic nation with optimism against the Hawks.
76ers @ Bulls
MVP: Jrue Holiday
With Derrick Rose sidelined, the 76ers now have the best point guard in the series, and he took over when his team needed him the most. Jrue Holiday poured in 26 points with an extremely efficient 83.3 eFG% as his Sixers pulled away in the second half. The turning point of this game was the third quarter, and you guessed it, Holiday shined the brightest during these 12 minutes. The former high school player of the year made all three of his shots (7 points) and handed out 4 assists during the period, as Philly won the quarter 36-14. For the game, Holiday recorded 6 dimes and no turnovers, allowing the visitors to be much more productive on the offensive end (they shot 59% from the field and made 8 more field goals despite attempting 6 less).
Nuggets @ Lakers
MVP: Pau Gasol
Nothing against the high-scoring duo of Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum, but it was the versatility of Gasol that made him more important to the 104-100 victory over Denver last night. We expect points from Kobe (38) and a double double from Bynum (in that sense he failed to reach expectations with 27 and 9), but getting what we expected rarely wins ball games in the postseason. Gasol recorded team highs in assists (5), defensive rebounds (7), total rebounds (10), and blocked shots (2); not to bad for a team’s third option. He was also second on the team in field goal percentage (50%) and steals (2). Gasol is quietly shedding the “soft” title, and becoming a force in these playoffs. Many wrote the Lakers off, but with Gasol playing at a high level, they are as dangerous as anybody.