After six days of the NBA playoffs it’s looking as if the window has officially shut on the Mavericks’ aspirations of defending their title. And in New York, LeBron & Co played their first playoff game in Madison Square Garden – they didn’t disappoint.

3 votes – LeBron James. After three quarters had been played in the Heat’s matchup with the Knicks, I was convinced this would be the first time James wouldn’t score the top honours in voting for the NBAMate playoff diary. Then he caught fire.

LeBron managed 17 of his total 32 points in the fourth quarter, and completely put the game — and the New York Knicks season — to bed. If the Knicks were going to grab any game in the series, this was going to be it. For the majority of the game they actually managed to control the tempo, contain James, and keep the crowd engaged with some timely three’s and a couple of highlight reel dunks from JR Smith.

But with some individual brilliance from James and a subtle fourth quarter explosion from Mario Chalmers, the Knicks will likely make it through yet another playoff series without recording a single win. And I’m anticipating a big performance from James in Game 4 as Miami look to close out the series in New York on Monday morning. James’ career high in points is 56, in case you were wondering…

2 votes – Kevin Durant. Throughout the season it’s been hard to quantify the impact Kevin Durant has had on this Thunder team. With three undeniable All-Stars contributing on a nightly basis, it’s not always easy to determine who the real catalyst is for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

And then Kevin Durant has another night like this. 31 points is nothing new to KD, he’s (yet again) topped the league in scoring, hit a bunch of game winning shots and ultimately made his team the most dangerous opponent in the Western conference playoff picture.

So after a convincing win in Dallas which gave the Thunder a 3-0 series lead over the defending champs, it’s safe to say there’s a new sherif in town. He owns a tonne of backpacks, and his name is Kevin.

1 vote – Chris Bosh. I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to salute CB on a rock solid performance. He has become one of the games more under appreciated talents and has received very little credit for taking a role well below his capabilities for the good of the team. But on one of the biggest days of Chris’ life — the day he became a father — he managed to suit up in time for the game, and provide his team with everything they’ve ever needed, or will ever need, from their 3rd best player – accountability, efficiency, hard work and leadership.

Some other thoughts on this game. I try not to let the statistics on box scores influence my opinion on how players performed, but at some point you have to draw a line in the sand. Today JR Smith crossed that line.

I had pencilled Smith in as my single vote getter while the Knicks were still in with a chance, but as the game spiralled out of control, he reverted to his usual act – that of ‘chucker’. It’s become a familiar story with JR Smith and unfortunately for him, all the highlight dunks in the world won’t remove the stench of playing a selfish brand of basketball, so it’s no cigar for Smitty this time around.

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