• Matt Peoples

2018 ALL-NBA PLAYOFF TEAMS


1st Team

Photo Courtesy: Slam

G: Jrue Holiday

G: James Harden

F: Kevin Durant

F: LeBron James

C: Anthony Davis

Guards

James Harden, the likely MVP, should come as no surprise as his Rockets took the eventual champion Golden State Warriors to a decisive Game 7. After losing his running mate Chris Paul, he had to carry even more of a load as his club’s sole source of offense and still nearly defeated a dominant Golden State team. The more intriguing selection is that of Jrue Holiday over more renowned All Star names like Steph Curry and Chris Paul. Holiday utilized the 2018 NBA Playoffs as a coming out party, of sorts, displaying a tenacious defensive presence coupled with excellent shot creation for himself and teammates. Although he saw an earlier exit than most, that doesn’t taint the dominance he showed defensively in the Pelicans sweep of the Trail Blazers and in their defeat at the hands of the Warriors. Plus, giving Anthony Davis confidence in the Pelicans’ future should count for something, right?

Forwards and Center

The three most dominant performers of this postseason all reside in this section with NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, Monstar Anthony Davis, and the G.O.A.T, yes, greatest of all time, LeBron James. Durant served as the spear head for a Warriors team without Stephen Curry for the first round. He would eventually lead his squad to an NBA championship, sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 43 point performance and dagger three in the third game to close the series for all intents and purposes. Anthony Davis showed why many refer to him as a top five player in the NBA, displaying Defensive Player of the Year talent complemented by All NBA offensive production. Like Holiday, Davis was a nightmare for the Trail Blazers and proved to be one of the few centers that can stay on the floor, and then some, against the Warriors. LeBron James used this post season to show that he’s simply not of this planet and thus cannot be judged as such. When a loss against what is likely the best team ever assembled is used against him by some, it shows the outlandish standard he is held to. With game winners, 40 point triple-doubles and carrying fourteen grown men like a backpack, LeBron gave us a bit of everything this post-season. With these three players playing at such a high level, NBA fans were absolutely spoiled.

2nd Team

Photo Courtesy: ESPN

G: Chris Paul

G: Steph Curry

F: Jayson Tatum

F: Al Horford

C: Joel Embiid

Guards

Two of the three best guards in the playoffs find themselves on the second team. This is more reflective of the high level of performance by their first team counterparts than their own doing, but don’t let that diminish their dominance. Chris Paul showed that he and James Harden could work together in a dual point guard system which was heavily questioned before the season. In the playoffs, Paul gave Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni the luxury of having an elite point guard on the floor at all times. Although Paul would eventually miss the final two games of the Rockets series against the Warriors, the point guard showed that with his presence within the Rockets’ style of play, they are a true competitor against Golden State for the foreseeable future. Speaking of the Warriors, how about that Stephen Curry guy? Curry missed the entire first round and still found his way on to the second team which is a true testament to his shooting brilliance. Steph functioned as the 1A-1B option alongside Kevin Durant, leading the dynastic Warriors to their third NBA title in four years.

Forwards and Center

This is the only time you will see two Celtics and a 76er this close together without a brawl breaking out. Tatum and Horford were the catalysts to the Celtics Cinderella run in this post season. Tatum broke out as one of the best rookies of the playoffs, leading his team the furthest out of the young stud rookie trio of himself, Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons. He displayed legitimate first option potential as well as a polished game well beyond his years. Horford made a case that he may be the most versatile center in the league. Need an above the break three-pointer? Check. Need a pivotal defensive stop? Check. Need an uncalled foul that benefits his team? Check. Okay, sorry, that may be my Sixers bias rearing its ugly head. Joel Embiid missed the first two games of the playoffs with an orbital fracture but returned without missing a beat. Although the Sixers may have let an opportunity at the NBA Finals slip through their fingers, expect the league’s premier center to harbor this frustration and translate it into a deep Eastern Conference playoff run next May.

3rd Team

Photo Courtesy: USA Today

G: Donovan Mitchell

G: Klay Thompson

F: Jaylen Brown

F: Ben Simmons

C: Rudy Gobert

Guards

Donovan Mitchell was truly sensational in the Utah Jazz’s first round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The first year guard outplayed MVP Russell Westbrook and gave Paul George and his defensive chops a real challenge each night. Although he fell short in five games to the Houston Rockets, Mitchell has no reason to hang his head. Jazz fans can rest assured this will be just the first of many play off runs lead by the explosive guard. Klay Thompson remains the unheralded savior for the Golden State Warriors. Seemingly anytime an opponent starts to pull away, a Thompson corner three is just a possession away. After receiving his third Championship ring, Thompson has financial decisions looming over the next 16 months that could jeopardize the greatest team assembled. For now, he’s a back to back champion.

Forwards and Center

A two way forward, seven foot point guard and Defensive Player of the Year walk into a bar – stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The only thing getting stopped is anyone trying to score on one of these guys. Jaylen Brown joined Jayson Tatum as the wings of the future for the Celtics with his outstanding play on both ends. Although “wings of the future” may sound like a throwback Nickleback album, it truly represents just how great the road ahead is for this franchise. Even through some struggles in the second round, Ben Simmons continued his transcendent play that lead the Sixers to a sixteen game winning streak entering the playoffs. With scoring, passing and rebounding, Simmons tends to give you a little bit of everything and will continue to do so for years. Rudy Gobert showed why he is widely regarded as the league best defensive center. Whether it was battling Steven Adams on the boards, or capably switching out on to James Harden and Chris Paul, Gobert showed that he and Donovan Mitchell can be the building blocks for a future Western Conference power.

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