Here is a look at this week’s “three stars” – a new tradition for X Marks the Sport.
1. Stephen Curry (PG – Golden State Warriors)
Curry has simply destroyed the Rockets in Golden State’s three consecutive wins in this series. He has averaged 35.7 points (scoring no less than 33 in any game) on 61.2% shooting from the field (absurd for a guard) and has connected on 18 three-pointers. During this stretch, he has broken Reggie Miller’s record for most made three-pointers in a postseason (in nine fewer games than Miller played when he established the record over a decade ago) and become the first player to makes at least 5 three-pointers in five straight postseason games. Curry has also chipped in with averages of 6.0 assists, 4.7 rebounds (including a memorable offensive rebound in front of Dwight Howard in Game 3) and 1.7 steals. So he hasn’t just been a shooter, and he is putting an exclamation point on his MVP campaign with the way he is playing.
2. Ryan Braun (OF – Milwaukee Brewers)
Braun’s season didn’t get off to a great start, but he has looked really good lately. Over his last seven games he has batted .375 with 3 HR and 12 RBI while also drawing 5 walks. Braun has knocked in at least one run in each of his last five games. The Brewers as a team have struggled this year to say the least, to the point where their manager coming into the season Ron Roenicke has already been fired. So to see this kind of production from a player who isn’t on a good team and isn’t getting a lot of help makes Braun’s hot streak that much more impressive. Over the last week, Braun’s batting average has jumped 20 points (.252 to .272) and his OPS has jumped a whopping 93 points (.785 to .878) – large spikes in yearly averages for this time of the season.
3. Tyler Johnson (C – Tampa Bay Lightning)
Heading into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Henrik Lunqvist was riding a four-game winning streak and had limited his opponents to just one goal in three of those four wins. That didn’t stop Tyler Johnson from putting a hat trick on Lunqvist and the Rangers in a pivotal Game 2 win for the Lightning. In the two wins for Tampa Bay in this series, Johnson has 4 goals and an assist to go along with a plus/minus rating of +3. If not for his performances in Game 2 and 3, who knows where Tampa Bay would be. As an unexpected little bonus, Johnson has won 22 of 35 faceoffs (.629 FO pct) over his last two games which exceeds the .486 FO pct he has put up over the last two seasons.