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The Top Five Playoff First-Timers

Jackson Safon |
April 17, 2015 | 12:06 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Giannis and The Brow are looking to bring some youth and length to the playoffs (@BallIsLife/Twitter)
Giannis and The Brow are looking to bring some youth and length to the playoffs (@BallIsLife/Twitter)

With the Western Conference as competitive as ever, and the Eastern Conference…well if it’s not competitive, at least it’s interesting. The top two seeds in the East from last season, the Heat and the Pacers, have both missed the playoffs, marking the first time since 2004 since this has happened. 

The Hawks have risen to the top, LeBron James has switched teams, and the rest of the East is seemingly in flux. What’s exciting about this year, however, is the plethora of players who have never gotten a taste of the postseason until now. It’s a great combination of players; from the young guys, to some veterans, to even potentially great players trying to cement their legacy.  

1. Anthony Davis – Pelicans

Anthony Davis is not just the best player on this list, and the best playoff newcomer, he might be the best player in the league. He is dominant defensively and extremely versatile offensively. More importantly, he shows up in big games. Davis and the Pelicans had a virtual playoff game in their final regular season matchup against the Spurs, as they had to win to stay in the playoffs. Davis not only played great, but he dominated in the clutch. He’s scary good, and fans from all across the country are excited to finally get some Playoff Brow. It’s been a long time coming. 

2. Kyrie Irving – Cavaliers

While Irving is no longer the alpha dog on his team, he had arguably the best season of his career. Not having to be the primary distributor, thanks to LeBron carrying that burden, Irving has thrived in more of a combo-guard role, which he is clearly better suited for. He can score from anywhere and has grown to have a reputation as a crunch time performer throughout his career. This is his chance to showcase those skills in the postseason, where most say it actually matters.  

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bucks

The “Greek Freak” has taken the league by storm. At 6’11” with a whopping 7’3” wingspan, Antetokounmpo is a terror at small forward and is leading this team straight into the playoffs. While his shot is still developing, he can take the ball to the hole as well as anyone and can use his length to swallow opposing players defensively. Considering he’ll be matched up against Mike Dunleavy when the Bucks take on the Bulls, expect a big series from the Greek Freak. 

4. Kevin Love – Cavaliers

While posting gaudy numbers in Minnesota, Love was never able to lead his team to the playoffs, something that was a big knock on him during this past offseason. While he hasn’t exactly led his team to the postseason, he has made it past the regular season at last and is ready to prove his doubters wrong. The season has not gone as planned for Love, but he has a chance to turn that all around with a strong postseason. 

5. Brad Stevens – Celtics

Head Coach Brad Stevens is no stranger to the postseason, as most basketball fans know him from his NCAA Tournament days as the coach of the Cinderella Butler Bulldogs. But in his second season in Boston he has scrapped together a team that has no business being in the playoffs—even in the East—and has carried them to the seven seed. While he has a tough matchup against the Cavs, expect to see some creative and impressive coaching from Coach Stevens. Keep an eye out for his sideline out-of-bounds plays, they’re truly something to marvel at. 

Reach Staff Reporter Jackson Safon here.



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