Fantastic starters and solid role players make these NBA playoffs easy to recommend. When fans look back at the 2021-22 postseason, it will be hard to imagine what they will hone in on. There were many milestones, era-defining moments, and unbelievable highlights. The only problem is that when 16 teams are playing that many games against each other, the lowlights are bound to accompany the highs. Who were some of the studs and duds of the first round?
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Stud: Tyrese Maxey in Game 1
How did Maxey do this and why could he not duplicate it again and again? Maxey scored 38 points, with 21 of those coming in the third quarter. The second year player also had zero turnovers in 38 minutes and was the star of the game. He even attempted 30-footers like Damian Lillard. Fans caught a glimpse of what the team could look like if he played at this level with Joel Embiid and James Harden.
Dud: Trae Young – Games 1 to 5
It’s one thing to have a bad game but having a bad series will give you an awful vibe that lingers with you a little longer. Young only had one highlight in the series. Hitting the game-winning floater was a memorable moment but if you took that away, this would easily be a sweep by the Miami Heat. Young, in five games, would have 31 turnovers and make seven three-pointers out of 38 attempts.
Stud: Jalen Brunson in Game 2
Scoring 41 points in 42 minutes with no turnovers is a good way to play when you are in the last year of your contract. That is exactly what Brunson did against the Utah Jazz in a game that Luka Doncic missed. Now his name will be in the minds of general managers and team owners around the league. They will start looking at possible ways to grab Brunson away from the Mavericks.
Dud: Kevin Durant – Games 1 to 4
A series that was supposed to be the most exciting in the opening round ended up being the most disappointing. It all started with Durant in the first game of the series. Video replays would show that he looked at the ball handler or the shot clock instead of guarding Jayson Tatum. If Durant focused on him, Tatum wouldn’t be able to make a quick dash to the hoop, receive the ball, and make the game-winning shot. It all went downhill from there. The defense forced Durant to overthink his shots and he never found his scoring groove before the series ended in a sweep.
Stud: DeMar DeRozan in Game 2
This is actually a “dud to stud” performance by DeRozan. He made just six field goals out of 25 attempts in the first game against the Milwaukee Bucks, but redeemed himself right away. The USC alum guaranteed that he would have a good game in the next outing and went on to score 41 points and added two blocks, proving that he was active on defense as well. DeRozan didn’t even need three-pointers to get those 41 points.
The Timberwolves had a chance. More than one chance, actually, if one looks back on the first round matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies. There were three games in which they had double-digit leads and let it slip away. The biggest loss here was Game 3 when the Timberwolves were up by 26 points and still found a way to lose. The Timberwolves will be remembered for their trash-talking and way-too-early celebrations even if the outcome of the games were not decided yet. Painful lessons were learned.
Follow Joey Almendras on Twitter @Buyaw
Main Image Credit: via Rocking Times