3 votes – George Hill: I know it’s going to seem like I have a man-crush on the young Spurs combo guard. After all, his line isn’t really that impressive – 21 points on 7/12 shooting to go with 6 rebounds. But if you watched the game, you know. You know that he was clutch beyond all measure. You know that he made a total chump of Jason Kidd for the 5th straight game (7pts/6assists on 26.5% shooting over the last five). You know that he’s the most mature second-year player you’ve ever seen. Hill shot 7/8 in the second half, and there was a moment in that half that really stood out to me. It happened on a play that the Spurs run a hundred times a game; the point guard (Hill in this case) has the ball in the middle, Manu Ginobili is on the right side, and they run a hand-off which leaves Manu isolated in the middle of the floor. Manu ran his usual pattern, only George – get this – waved him off! Now, very rarely have I ever seen a Spur wave Manu off, and I definitely haven’t seen a Spur wave Manu off in the middle of a fourth quarter in a key playoff game. Yet that’s precisely what George Hill did, before proceeding to school Jason Kidd and nail an 18” pull-up. Ice, ice, baby.

2 votes – Jason Richardson: Steve Nash played what must have been his worst playoff game as a Sun (2-7 shooting, 7 turnovers). The refs let the Blazers get away with stuff that would have been a free kick in footy. Yet the Suns still prevailed, largely due to J-Rich, who dined out on three-pointers all game and added two key layups off cuts that finally gave the Suns some separation. In the next round he comes up against the team that defends the three-point shot better than anyone in the Spurs, so it will be interesting to see if J-Rich will be prepared to put the ball on the floor and continue to make an impact in other ways.

1 vote – Dirk. Oh Dirk. Poor, poor Dirk. We acknowledge that your coach – who may or may not have been Jim Carey – is an uber-dud (4th series in 9 attempts that he’s lost when he’s had the higher seed). We understand that there’s not much more you could have done to try to win the series. We hope this sympathy vote from the team here at NBAMate is some consolation. And if you choose to travel to Australia again for some soul-searching, I suggest going somewhere other than the Northern Territory; it’s a bit of a hole.

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