3 votes – Dwyane Wade. Mark this one up as a statement game. After being so successfully blanketed by the Celtics in their regular season encounters, Wade broke the shackles and shat all over the Celtics defense with 38 points on 14-21 shooting, to go with 5 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. And the Heat needed everyone of those points, with the three starters Bosh, Bibby and Ilgauskas combining for a miserable 10 points on 4-16 shooting combined. Lebron contributed (22-6-5) and James Jones went nuts from deep (5-7 on threes) but the Heat got little else from their roster. It’s not like their defense was great either – the Celtics just looked rusty, slow and timid (Rondo especially). So it really was Wade carrying them today, and like I’ve said plenty of times over the past few months, when you’ve got Wade and Lebron on your team the chances are one of them is going to fire and carry you home. I now fully expect the Celtics obligatory “serves you right for doubting us” game in response where Ray Allen drains 15 threes, KG tries to punch someone and Rondo does everything else.
2 votes – Zach Randolph. I was shaking my head after I read Ash’s Day 14 post where he gave Zach the 3-votes. “I can’t believe we keep giving Zach Randolph 3-vote games… we’re getting a bit carried away with Grizzlies hysteria”. To the point I nearly emailed Ash to say “ok man, lets get of Zach’s nuts for a few days”. But how the hell can we not give him votes today? Arguably he’s more deserving of the 3 than Wade was – he was that good. It utterly bewilders me how far the legacy of Zach Randolph has come in a little less than 2 weeks. Take this quote:
You can’t stop him. You’ve got to make them shoot tough shots like he’s been doing, but if he’s making them, he’s tough to stop”.
Do you know who said that? Kevin Durant. The league’s leading scorer. And do you know who he’s talking about? No, not Lebron, or Kobe, or Wade. But Zach freaking Randolph. I’m not trying to be patronizing here. Since when does a legitimate league super-duper star like Durant say “you can’t stop him” about Zach Randolph? In the playoffs. After being beat at home. If it hasn’t happened already, Zach Randolph is now being admitted into an elite tier in this league. No longer the butt of jokes, he’s now simply kicking butt. Consistently. We’re not guilty of Grizz hysteria folks. This man is earning his votes.
1 vote – James Jones. Could have very easily given this to Marc Gasol for his dominant and brutally efficient 20-13-3 against the Thunder’s upgraded front-line. But I like giving out the single vote to role-players who step up big, and today there was no better example of that than James Jones. Don’t just take it from me – “JJ probably had the best game of anybody” said Lebron. He drained 4 treys in the second quarter and the Heat never really looked back from there. Along with Wade he swung the game. The Heat only need one guy like Jones to step up every now and then and they’ll go a long way this post-season. Let’s see who puts up their hand in game 2.