For basketball junkies, it’s now entering the greatest time of the season, which is when the NBA playoffs really start heating up. As we’re now firmly in the business end, as teams duke it out in the conference semi-finals, it’s becoming apparent which players are withstanding the immense pressure, and are even able to perform above and beyond their normal levels.
These players have all managed to put their teams on their backs when needed, and driven them on to grasp magnificent wins. With a place in the 2022 NBA Finals at stake, it’s clear that these talented stars are rising to the occasion, and it will be fantastic viewing to see who will go on to lead their team to the championship.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Endearingly referred to as the ‘Greek Freak’, the Athens born Giannis Antetokounmpo has become a real powerhouse of the NBA in the past few years. Standing at an intimidating 6ft 11in tall, the 27-year-old power-forward has already managed to rack up a seriously impressive amount of awards for himself, including winning back-to-back MVPs in 2019 and 2020.
The grandest moment of his career so far though, came last year, when he helped his team, the Milwaukee Bucks, to capture their first championship since 1971. This obviously cemented him as a legend at the Fiserv Forum, whose fans are renowned for being particularly raucous, as we wrote about previously here at .
A year on, and Giannis is again doing everything he can to repeat that magnificent triumph. He’s managed to average 27.9 points, 7.1 assists, and 12.7 rebounds per game in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Whilst the 27-year-old has always put up big points and rebounds in post-season games, the fact he’s now stepping up his passing, and consistently dishing out dimes to his teammates, has elevated his game even higher.
Joel Embiid Cameroonian centre Joel Embiid was the top scorer in the league during the regular season, putting up a staggering 30.6 points per game, as can be seen reported on over at . Whilst the 7ft maestro hasn’t always put up those kind of numbers in the playoffs so far, he’s still managed to be the difference for the Philadelphia 76ers on multiple occasions.
First off, he sunk the deciding basket against the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of the first round, to make sure his opponents didn’t get a foothold in the series. Now in the semi-finals, he unexpectedly returned from injury in Game 3 to save the day, by dropping a much-needed double-double against the Heat.
This win wrestled momentum back from Miami, who until then were looking like sweeping the series. No wonder, then, that the Philly fans feel that with him in the side, they’re a match for anyone.
Stephen Curry is certainly no stranger to the playoffs, with this being the eighth time the sharp-shooter has played in the post-season, and in that time he’s managed to go on and win three championship rings. Whilst he might now be firmly in the second-half of his career, with the Golden State Warriors point guard now hitting his mid-thirties, it’s clear that if his body lets him, his recent performances showcase he’s still got plenty more to gift the NBA.
Returning from a foot injury that derailed his end of the regular season, Curry has been mostly coming off the bench in the Warriors’ post-season so far, but what an impact he’s had even with his more limited minutes. Against the Denver Nuggets in the first round, he averaged 27.5 points, with just 28 minutes per game of playing time. As his foot has now seemingly fully healed, he’s become even more prominent in the semi-finals, raining down his trademark threes on the Memphis Grizzlies, propelling them to gain the strong upper hand in the series.
With Curry now finding his rhythm, it looks set to be another year that the Warriors make it all the way to the NBA Finals, which is why they’re now the favorites to win the Championship at the best bookmakers, all of which can be found over at . Their experts have cut through the noise of the internet to deliver visitors their top recommended bookmakers, with their website featuring 275+ independent and impartial bookmaker reviews. You’ll also get access to free bets, and enhanced odds, meaning that you’ll get the longest odds during the excitement of the NBA postseason.