3 votes – Dwight Howard: Beast. This Atlanta team was always going to struggle to contain someone of Dwight’s size, so the onus was on Dwight to be able to stay out of foul trouble and execute. And execute he did. Monstering Al Horford and a veritable smorgasbord of 7”0 duds off the bench, Howard attempted 18 free throws (making a respectable 13), grabbed 17 boards, and allowed his team-mates to cash in on Atlanta’s dazed defense. I’m not sure he’ll get as many favourable charge/block decisions in Atlanta, but if he’s on the floor, he should get the 3 votes in every game this series.
2 votes – Vince Carter: Huge game for Carter as Orlando start to get into gear ahead of the big showdown against LeBron’s merry men. Single-handedly controlled the game for spurts of the second half, including some excellent drives and a lovely old school Vince dunk. Remember, this was a game that was in the balance until the 4th quarter, and Vince’s 20 points in the second half really cracked the game open. If Vince can play at this level for, say, 3 halves in the Cleveland series, that might just be enough to help Dwight and Jameer overcome the Cavs.
1 vote – Al Horford: Thought he was the absolute stand-out for the Hawks. Rebounded well, played good D (if not always successful), and most importantly knocked in a bunch of baseline jumpers in key moments when it looked like Orlando were set to break away. Finished with 24 points & 10 boards, at least somewhat off-setting Dwight’s huge game. Still think this guy is Atlanta’s future, and when they get a coach that can actually utilize him properly in the offense, we’ll see Horford flourish.