Sports, admittedly, are for humans - but they're best enjoyed when played by humans who might not actually be humans.
This weekend, we were treated to an onslaught of thrillers, as each series took flight either Saturday or Sunday. Several times, I found myself wondering the best possible question while watching a basketball game: Is *Insert Player Here* even human?
That question is usually preceded by a play that forces you to audibly gasp or mutter "Oh my god," even though you're watching the game alone. This weekend gave us plenty of those moments from quasi-human NBA players, but I'm here to filter through and find the five best inhuman performances from the Game 1's.
5. Chris Paul
CP3 is severely under-appreciated on a seemingly stagnant Clippers team, and although he suffered a Game 1 defeat at the hands of the Gobert-less Jazz, Paul was downright phenomenal. Blake Griffin likes to do this thing where he forgets how to score in fourth quarters and Joe Ingles had rendered JJ Redick ineffective all night. With Austin Rivers injured, it was up to the CP3 and DJ pick-and-roll to provide for the Clips offensively. The Jazz seemed intent on taking away the lob, forcing Paul to really takeover offensively - and that he did.
He finished with 25 points, 11 assists, seven boards, only one turnover, and a game-tying kiss off the glass with under 15 ticks to play. If not for Iso-Joe winning the game at the buzzer, CP3 would have singlehandedly willed that game to overtime - and there's little doubt that he CP3 would have let that one slip away. I was rooting heavily for Utah, but I couldn't help but consider... Is the Clippers point guard a human being?
4. John Wall
Curry finesses it, Westbrook forces it, and Harden euros around it. John Wall? Yeah, he just runs past it. His devilish speed makes him nearly indefensible, especially in the open court with a head of steam.
He finished Game 1 with 32 points, 14 (!!!) assists on 12-for-24, but only 2-for-4 from downtown. Wall doesn't fall in love with the three - he uses his pure speed to get into the paint and make plays. Any deep jumper he buries is a bonus.
In the third quarter today, Wall took over, and had a stretch where he put the game away and had me thinking is this man human? as I watched a flash in a Wizards jersey dart across my television.
(How is that ^^^ even possible?!?!)
3. CJ McCollum
"Getting hot" is a certainly a basketball buzzword phrase. When Kyle Korver his a couple threes in a row, he's "getting hot." When Steph Curry gets a few buckets quickly, he's "heating up."
Today, in the first half, CJ McCollum redefined what it means to "get hot". He logged 27 points on 11/15 from the field - but that doesn't nearly tell the full story. Of course, the Warriors were hiding Steph defensively, so nearly all of CJ's possessions were against Klay Thompson or Draymond Green (after the Dubs switched a ball-screen). It didn't matter! Every single bucket CJ got to was a tough one - including the fadeaway corner three he drilled right in front of the Warriors bench.
His ability to catch, pivot, get to his spot inside the arc, elevate and hit is almost unrivaled in today's NBA. When CJ's hot, there's simply nothing a defense can do - even a defense with Draymond and Klay Thompson. I watched in shock and awe Sunday in the first half as everything CJ threw up found nylon. It had me wondering... Is CJ human?
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
This man had a dunk on Saturday where he hung on the rim and his feet were on the ground. Yes, he was simultaneously hanging on the rim and standing on the ground.
Whenever I watch the Bucks, there are five or six times where Giannis has the ball and is driving toward the hoop. There's a moment where I think to myself "ok, well, there's no way Giannis can dunk this one!" and before I can even finish that thought, Giannis is dunking it through the earth's core.
Giannis, it's plays like that where I think Ok, yep, well, that settles it. Giannis isn't a human being.
1. Draymond Green
I could talk about the play where Dame Lillard rose up in the lane, but Draymond met him at the rim. I could talk about any of his three steals, or his 3/4 performance from beyond the arc. Maybe even his 12 boards.
But, nah. Here's what I want to talk about.
To recap: Klay Thompson throws the ball away into the backcourt, igniting a two-on-one for Portland. Draymond Green, the lone Warrior defender, runs up and chases Dame off the three-point line, while also containing his drive. Then, seeing Dame has picked up his dribble, Draymond retreats to the paint and elevates at the rim, where he stuffs Vonleh's dunk attempt.
Find me another player who can both close out to the three-point line AND meet a would be dunker at the rim... I'll wait, seriously...
It's plays like that where I ponder... Draymond Green can't actually be human, right?
Honorable Mention: Paul freaking George. Dude can flat-out HOOP