3 votes – Rajon Rondo: One of the great individual playoff performances. After Boston’s embarrassing Game 3 no-show, you couldn’t be faulted for fearing that this series would fizzle out just like the rest of the other Round 2 match-ups. Fortunately, Rondo decided that we deserve at least one decent series this round, and tore the Cavs to shreds. If the eye-popping line of 29/18/13 isn’t impressive enough on its own, consider that;
- Rondo looked like the best player on the court in a game featuring LeBron James. This has happened maybe 5 times in the last two years.
- He did in a must-win playoff game, without a great deal of help from the so-called Big Three.
- His jump-shot is so bad that Cleveland were literally playing two metres off him at times, and it still didn’t make a difference.
Rajon Rondo will never had the skill set of Steve Nash or Chris Paul. There’s not one thing he does that you could describe as even remotely textbook. And yet, he’s managed to become the clear-cut best player on a team that includes KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. As Bill Simmons said, we need to scrap the idea of the “Big Three”, and just call Rondo the “Big One”. Boston’s chances rest squarely on his shoulders.
2 votes – Steve Nash: Up 3-0 and in control of Game 4, it seemed like Suns were finally going to exorcise their demons in the most emphatic fashion with a sweep of the old nemesis. When an inadvertent Duncan elbow (straight out of the Dirk playbook) forced Nash to receive six stitches above his eye, I’m sure some Phoenix Suns were dreading the worst. The bloodied Nash brought back memories of the Horry hip-check and the Blood Nose game. Moments that led to heart-break for the Suns. Only this time the feisty Canadian hippy wasn’t to be denied. He came back looking like a villain from a low budget B-movie, and proceeded to emphatically put away the Spurs and the ghosts of series past. I have no idea if the emotional high of sweeping the Spurs will help or hinder them against the Lakers – but I do know it’s damn hard not to root for this latest incarnation of the Suns, with the 36-year-old Nash leading the way.
1 vote – Alvin Gentry: It’s rare that we see a coach in the votes, but I think Gentry deserves some pub. Popovich has consistently been the best coach in the league throughout the last decade, but Gentry matched him and then some in this series. He exploited match-ups that needed to be exploited, he’s gotten a bench of no-name scrubs to win games for him and everyone on this Suns team just raves about the chemistry. They play hard for him, and they believe. Basically, Gentry’s been the Bizarro Mike Woodson for the duration of these playoffs, and for that he deserves an honorary vote.