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Friday, April 26, 2013
Insider: Thorpe's Postseason MVPs

By David Thorpe

Playoff MVPs Illustration

Yes, it's "early" for an MVP race. But it's also very late already for a lot of playoff teams.

Each round of the playoffs is a "season" unto itself, with every team in a do-or-die series. Already we've seen virtual must-win games for the 56-win Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks, and we'll get two more tonight on ESPN, with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers trying to stay in their series with the Knicks and Spurs. In that context, every game is amplified tenfold, and every play has the potential to swing the season. Valuable, indeed.

So we're ranking the top 10 players of the postseason every week from now through the NBA Finals, not based on their overall performances solely, but from a perspective of value in obtaining the only thing that matters in the playoffs: Wins.

At the same time, we should mention that some players do enough to impact series even in losses, sometimes by elevating the level of play from their teammates, which puts the team in better position to win the next game. Other times players force the opponent to make wholesale changes in strategy, opening up a new plan of attack for their own team.

Ultimately, though, it's about winning four games in seven. So who is ahead of the pack as we complete the first week of the playoffs?

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