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Primetime playoff performers
Take a look at the clutch performers of the early postseason
Perfect 10
By Bryan Williams

When the postseason kicked off two weeks ago, NBA.com revealed By the Numbers: Primetime Playoff Performers, a breakdown of how each active player in NBA Playoffs 2003 had performed in the postseason compared to the regular season.

Now, with all the first-round series going into Game 4 or 5, it's time to take a look at who's coming up big this year. From superstars to role players, here are 10 players who are thriving under the playoff spotlight. (All statistics are through games of April 27.)


Troy Hudson • Minnesota

STATS
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
Playoffs
4
4
36.0
.438
.481
.970
2.3
5.5
1.50
0.00
27.3
2002-03
79
74
32.9
.428
.365
.900
2.3
5.7
0.76
0.09
14.2


Wolves-Lakers series page
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
Everyone pitied the Timberwolves when their hard-won home-court advantage resulted only in a first-round matchup with the Lakers. Surely Kevin Garnett just didn't have enough help to put up much of a fight.

Enter Troy Hudson.

L.A.'s inability to check the 6-1 point guard has given the Wolves life and a 2-2 series tie. After Minnesota got blown out in Game 1, Hudson exploded for 37 points and 10 assists in Game 2, helping the Wolves bounce back and take the next two games. He's averaging more than 27 points through four games -- compared to 14.2 during the regular season -- and has missed just one free throw all series, hitting 32-of-33 from the stripe.


Allen Iverson • Philadelphia

STATS
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
Playoffs
3
3
44.7
.477
.333
.742
3.3
6.0
2.67
0.00
37.3
2002-03
82
82
42.5
.414
.277
.774
4.2
5.5
2.74
0.16
27.6


Sixers-Hornets series page
Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images
It might be an overstatement -- but not much of one -- to say that, right now, Allen Iverson is playing the best basketball of his career. At no other time has he been so effective for the Sixers in so many different ways.

Points? Iverson currently leads all scorers in the playoffs, averaging 37.3 points per game, including a 55-point performance in Game 1 that ranks with the all-time greats. Assists? He's dishing out six a night, tops on the team. Steals? He continues to be a pest on defense, grabbing 2.67 per game.

Perhaps most impressive, though, has been his efficiency in putting points on the board. A career .420 shooter from the field -- and just .397 in the playoffs -- Iverson has knocked down 42-of-88 through three games, for a robust field-goal percentage of .477.


Stephen Jackson • San Antonio

STATS
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
Playoffs
4
4
36.8
.444
.333
.923
5.3
3.5
1.25
1.00
17.0
2002-03
80
58
28.2
.435
.320
.760
3.6
2.3
1.56
0.38
11.8


Spurs-Suns series page
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
With all the attention Tim Duncan has been drawing in the post, San Antonio needs its perimeter players to hit open shots, and with nearly everyone ice-cold from the outside, Stephen Jackson has picked up the slack. Besides Duncan and David Robinson, Jackson is the only Spur shooting above .390 from the field, and he leads the team with eight three-pointers. He has also hit 12-of-13 from the free throw line, an area where the team has been notoriously deficient.

In addition to upping his scoring to 17.0 points per game, second only to Duncan, Jackson has been active all over the court, bettering his stats in rebounds, assists and blocks as well.


Stephon Marbury • Phoenix

STATS
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
Playoffs
4
4
46.3
.414
.133
.680
4.0
6.3
1.25
0.00
25.3
2002-03
81
81
40.0
.439
.301
.800
3.2
8.1
1.33
0.25
22.3


Spurs-Suns series page
Lisa Blumenfeld/NBAE/Getty Images
Unlike many of the other players on this list, Stephon Marbury's impact on his team's series isn't quite so quantifiable. Yes, his scoring average is up a few points compared to the regular season, but many of his other stats have actually declined. The matchup problems he creates at point guard, however, have completely befuddled the Spurs, most notably Tony Parker.

Too strong for Parker, too quick for bigger defenders like Stephen Jackson and even Bruce Bowen, Marbury has been able to penetrate the lane and get to the basket almost at will against the top defensive team in the West, leading the eighth-seeded Suns to a 2-2 series tie through four games.


Kenyon Martin • New Jersey

STATS
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
Playoffs
4
4
41.5
.500
.000
.788
10.3
3.5
0.75
1.00
24.0
2002-03
77
77
34.1
.470
.209
.653
8.3
2.4
1.2
0.91
16.7


Nets-Bucks series page
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images
During the regular season, the Nets thrived on a balanced attack from their offense, but at the same time, having Jason Kidd as the team's leading scorer wasn't exactly ideal; Kidd is at his best when he's setting up open shots for his teammates. Now, Kenyon Martin is truly becoming the player the Nets hoped he would when they drafted him with the top pick three years ago.

Not only has Martin been the primary scorer for New Jersey in the playoffs, he's averaging a double-double with 24.0 points and 10.3 rebounds per game while shooting .500 from the field. In turn, Martin's performance has allowed Kidd to focus more on running the offense -- upping his assists from 8.9 to 9.8 per game -- and be more selective about the shots he takes -- posting 18.0 points per game on .510 shooting.


Tracy McGrady • Orlando

STATS
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
Playoffs
4
4
44.3
.516
.400
.740
5.8
4.5
2.25
1.25
36.3
2002-03
75
74
39.4
.457
.386
.793
6.5
5.5
1.65
0.79
32.1


Pistons-Magic series page
Tom Pidgeon/NBAE/Getty Images
The Orlando Magic couldn't ask much more from the league's leading scorer going into the postseason, but what Tracy McGrady has done to the top-seeded team in the East and the No. 1 defense in the league has been phenomenal. McGrady's 36.3 points per game rank second only to Allen Iverson in the playoffs, but T-Mac is getting his points against the Detroit Pistons, a team that allowed a league-low 87.7 during the regular season and that has two-time Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace guarding the basket.

Of course, McGrady has continued to display his impressive all-around skills, leading the Magic in steals and blocks, ranking second in rebounds and assists and shooting .516 from the field. As a result, Orlando is up 3-1 and seemingly on its way to a first-round upset.


Dirk Nowitzki • Dallas

STATS
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
Playoffs
4
4
44.5
.533
.650
.875
10.0
2.3
1.75
0.50
34.8
2002-03
80
80
39.0
.463
.379
.881
9.9
3.0
1.39
1.03
25.1


Mavs-Blazers series page
Randy Kim/NBAE/Getty Images
We've known for awhile that Dirk Nowitzki is a great shooter, but 13-of-20 from three-point range over the first four games of this series is just absurd. That's .650 from long-distance, a percentage that is second to Indiana's Jamaal Tinsley, but Tinsley has hit 8-of-12, attempting fewer than Nowitzki has made.

It's not just the threes though. Nowitzki's 34.8 points per game is third in the playoffs behind Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady, he is shooting .533 from the field overall, and he leads the Mavs in rebounds and steals. Whether Nowitzki's remarkable output has been the cause or result of Steve Nash and Michael Finley's below-average performances, Dallas holds a 3-1 series lead and is on the verge of closing out the Blazers.


Greg Ostertag • Utah

STATS
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
Playoffs
3
3
36.7
.517
.000
.737
9.0
1.7
1.00
2.33
14.7
2002-03
81
74
23.8
.518
.000
.510
6.2
0.7
0.25
1.81
5.4


Kings-Jazz series page
Kent Horner/NBAE/Getty Images
No one could have seen this coming. After eight seasons in the NBA, the career scoring average of Greg Ostertag is 4.9 points per game; in the playoffs, where he has appeared in 85 games, it's 4.3. His career rebounding average is 5.6; in the playoffs, 5.4.

Through three games against Sacramento, Ostertag is posting 14.7 points and 9.0 boards per game. Among Jazz players, he is second to Karl Malone in scoring, he's tops in rebounds, he's tied with Andrei Kirilenko for the team lead in blocks, and he's shooting .517 from the field. In Utah's Game 3 win over the Kings, he went for 22 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, leading the Jazz in all three categories.

"I don't think I've seen him play this hard in his career," said Jerry Sloan after Game 3.

Indeed.


Paul Pierce • Boston

STATS
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
Playoffs
4
4
43.5
.394
.400
.923
10.5
6.0
2.00
0.50
28.0
2002-03
79
79
39.2
.416
.302
.802
7.3
4.4
1.76
0.78
25.9


Pacers-Celtics series page
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
Like Allen Iverson for Philadelphia, Paul Pierce is a superstar who has taken his already-impressive game to a higher level in the postseason. Leading the Celtics in points, rebounds, assists and steals, Pierce has carried Boston to a 3-1 series lead against the favored Pacers.

Despite having two All-Stars in the middle with Jermaine O'Neal and Brad Miller, the Pacers have been unable to slow Pierce on his frequent drives to the basket, and if he doesn't finish, he draws a foul; Pierce has hit 48 free throws through four games, the most in the playoffs by a large margin -- Kobe Bryant is second with 38 -- and he set an NBA playoff record by going 21-of-21 from the line in Game 1.


Tim Thomas • Milwaukee

STATS
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
Playoffs
4
3
34.3
.500
.588
.625
5.3
1.5
0.75
1.00
21.3
2002-03
80
70
29.5
.443
.366
.780
4.9
1.3
0.88
0.61
13.3


Nets-Bucks series page
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images
With the vast majority of Milwaukee's offense coming from its guards all season, not much was expected from the Bucks' frontcourt going into the postseason, especially against strong defenders like New Jersey's Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson. But Tim Thomas has unexpectedly stepped up, and in a big way.

After averaging just 13.3 points and 4.9 rebounds during the regular season, totals that were disappointing to the Bucks, Thomas is leading the team in scoring with 21.3 points per game and shooting .500 from the field. He has also been effective from the outside, hitting 10-of-17 (.588) from three-point range as the Bucks have battled to a 2-2 tie with the second-seeded Nets.




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