2022 NBA Playoffs: 15 Must-See Plays From the First Round

2022 NBA Playoffs: 15 Must-See Plays From the First Round

The 2022 NBA Playoffs began on April 16th following the conclusion of the play-in tournament – which saw the Brooklyn Nets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, and New Orleans Pelicans advance as the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds. It was an exciting end to the regular season.

Since then, the NBA playoffs haven’t disappointed as we’ve witnessed a very tight race in the Western Conference. The Eastern Conference has been a little more lopsided, but it has still been filled with a wide range of iconic moments and buzzer beater winners – several, in fact. 

As of Monday, the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Milwaukee Bucks are all one game away from advancing in the East. The Warriors can say the same in the West, but the other three series are knotted up at two games a piece – and those series can go either way. 

RELATED: 20 Players to Watch During the 2022 NBA Playoffs

15 Plays That Sum Up the NBA Playoffs So Far

2022 NBA Playoffs: 15 Must-See Plays From the First Round
Eugene Onischenko / Shutterstock

Like we mentioned above, the 2022 NBA Playoffs has already seen its fair share of iconic moments – including monster slams, ferocious blocks, nifty steals, clutch shots, and what some people refer to as circus plays. It has definitely been one to remember, thus far. 

Several players have emerged as leaders for their team and they’ll continue to dominate as the playoffs continue. Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, Jimmy Butler, and Nikola Jokic each have more than 30 points per game, though Doncic has only played in one game due to injury.

In the meantime, Brandon Ingram, Jalen Brunson, and Jayson Tatum are all close behind, averaging at least 29.7 points per game. Don’t worry, you’ll get to see most of those players in our top-15 plays through the first four games of the First Round. It’s the NBA Playoffs, baby!

15. Cameron Payne Throws It Down Hard

This play happened on April 24th during Game 4 of the New Orleans Pelicans vs. Phoenix Suns first round series. Cameron Payne, a guard for the Suns, uses the screen to create some space, which gives him enough room to take the ball to the rim. From there, the rest is history. 

Payne finished the game 3-10 with 8 points, 1 assist, and 1 block in 18 minutes of play. His dunk brought some life to his team during the third quarter, but it wasn’t enough to help his team past the Pelicans. The series is currently tied 2-2 after the Pelicans evened the series up at home. 

14. Thaddeus Young Puts Joel Embiid on Skates

This play happened on April 23rd during Game 4 of the Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors first round series. Thaddeus Young, a forward for the Raptors, received the ball at the top of the key before tip-toeing and dancing around Joel Embiid, who couldn’t quite hang with the handles. 

Young finished the game 6-9 from the field with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block in 30 minutes of play. His 13 points led all bench players and helped the Raptors avoid elimination. They won 110-102, but are still down 3-1 in the series as they attempt a comeback. 

13. Patrick Beverley With the Incredible Circus Play

This play happened on April 21st during Game 3 of the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies first round series. Patrick Beverley, a guard for the T-wolves, reached into his bag of tricks to pull off this circus play – which includes a Curly Neal tribute and a pass to himself. 

Beverley finished Game 3 5-13 from the field with 14 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks in 34 minutes. His play wasn’t enough to lift Minnesota to a win as they fell to 1-2 on the series, but they eventually tied the series up in Game 4. Beverley had 17 points in the victory. 

12. Landry Shamet With the Posterizer on Hayes

This play happened on April 22nd during Game 3 of the Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans first round series. Landry Shamet, a guard for the Suns, received a pass from Chris Paul in transition. Despite Jaxson Hayes zeroing in on defense, Shamet slammed it down. 

Shamet finished the game 2-7 from the field with 5 points and 3 assists in 30 minutes of action. His monster slam led to an and-one, three-point play when he hit the free throw. The Suns went on to win Game 3, bringing the series to 2-1 in the Suns’ favor, but they then dropped Game 4.

11. Donovan Mitchell Shows No Regard for Davis Bertans

This play happened on April 21st during Game 3 of the Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz first round series. Donovan Mitchell, a guard for the Jazz, was looking to provide a spark of energy with his team down 13 points. He uses the screen, splits the defense, and finishes the dunk. 

Mitchell finished the game 10-21 from the field with 32 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 block in 39 minutes of play. His team played well offensively, but their defensive struggles led to a loss in Game 3. They got their revenge in Game 4, tying the series at 2-2. This could go to Game 7. 

10. Devin Booker Sinks a Buzzer Beater From the Logo

This play happened on April 19th during Game 2 of the Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans first round series. Devin Booker, a guard for the Suns, was looking to give his team a five-point lead heading into halftime, which he did with a ridiculously long buzzer beater from the logo. 

Booker finished the half with 31 points, but failed to score more than that after suffering an injury. He finished with 31 points off 12-19 shooting, adding 2 rebounds and 1 assist before leaving the game. The Suns lost that game, won Game 3, and lost Game 4 with the series tied at 2-2.

9. Brandon Ingram Shakes the Rim Despite Contact

This play happened on April 24th during Game 4 of the New Orleans Pelicans vs. Phoenix Suns first round series – a series filled with highlights. Brandon Ingram, a forward for the Pelicans, had his team up 3 in the third quarter, but added to the lead with this ridiculous posterizing dunk. 

Ingram finished the game 11-23 from the field with 30 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists in 36 minutes of action. Along with Jonas Valanciunas’ 26 points and CJ McCollum’s 18 points, the Pelicans tied the series up 2-2 with a 15-point victory in Game 4. It all continues on Monday.

8. Donovan Mitchell’s Last-Second Alley-Oop to Rudy Gobert

This play happened on April 23rd during Game 4 of the Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks first round series. Donovan Mitchell, who’s on this list for the second time, had the ball with 15.0 seconds left, down by one. Instead of taking it himself, he lobbed it to Rudy Gobert for the slam.

There were still 11.0 seconds left on the clock, but the Jazz defense stood strong and held tight for the victory. Mitchell finished the game with 23 points and 7 assists, while Gobert finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds. The win tied the series up at 2-2 with Game 5 on Monday night. 

7. Thanasis Antetokounmpo Channels His Inner Giannis

This play happened on April 22nd during Game 3 of the Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls first round series. The Bucks were enjoying a 30-point lead with just over two minutes left, which is usually when Thanasis Antetokounmpo enters the game. And he made use of his limited time. 

Thanasis, Giannis’ younger brother, channeled his inner Giannis when he drove to the basket and brought the house down over Patrick Williams. He missed the and-one free throw attempt, but finished the game 2-3 from the field with 4 points, 1 assist, and 1 steal in the Game 3 victory. 

6. Spencer Dinwiddie Has No Respect for Rudy Gobert

This play happened on April 21st during Game 3 of the Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks first round series. Spencer Dinwiddie, a guard for the Mavericks, received a pass with his team up 13 points early in the third. He drove to the basket with space and dunked it over Rudy Gobert

Gobert, known for his shot-blocking ability, couldn’t stop the hammer as Dinwiddie slammed it down with authority. He finished the game with 20 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals in 41 minutes, helping his team win 126-118 with Luka Doncic out. The series is now tied 2-2. 

5. Devin Booker Hits Shot, Fist Bumps Baby

This play happened on April 19th during Game 2 of the Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans first round series. Devin Booker was going off, which we briefly mentioned above with his 31 points in the first half. This shot was another buzzer beater in the first quarter of the same game.

Booker was feeling it this game and the Suns likely would’ve won if he didn’t get injured. It was looking like he could go for 50 at least, but things went south when he left the game early. The Suns collapsed and the Pelicans took over late. That tied the series and it remains tied today. 

4. Back-to-Back Clutch Threes for Maxi Kleber

These back-to-back plays happened on April 18th during Game 2 of the Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz first round series. Maxi Kleber, who was struggling from long range towards the end of the season, made back-to-back three-pointers to bring his team from down two to up four. 

It was a much-needed six-point swing and ultimately gave the Mavericks the momentum they needed to secure a Game 2 victory, despite not having Luka Doncic available. Kleber finished the game 8-11 from long range, putting up 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in the victory. 

3. Karl-Anthony Towns Has No Chill

This play happened on April 16th during Game 1 of the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies first round series. Karl-Anthony Towns, a center for the T-wolves, wanted to prove his team belonged in the playoffs, which he did with this monster slam over Jaren Jackson Jr.

KAT finished the game with 29 points off 11-18 shooting, adding 13 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block to help put his team up 1-0 in the series. Anthony Edwards was also impressive, putting up a game-high 36 points with 6 assists. It has been an interesting series and is currently 2-2. 

2. Joel Embiid’s Buzzer Beater Win

This play happened on April 20th during Game 3 of the Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors first round series. Both teams were tied at the end of regulation and remained tied at 101 with just 2.6 seconds remaining. That’s when Joel Embiid hit the dagger three-pointer for the win. 

The buzzer beater capped off an impressive 33-point outing for the MVP finalist. He shot 12-20 from the floor and 3-8 from long range, adding 13 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block in the win. His play put his team up 3-0 in the series, but the 76ers failed to close out the series in Game 4. 

1. Jayson Tatum’s Buzzer Beater Win

That brings us to another buzzer beater – one that happened on April 17th during Game 1 of the Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics first round series. The Celtics were down by one point with 12 seconds left, but had the ball after a missed shot by Kevin Durant. That’s when this happened. 

Jaylen Brown drives the ball, but doesn’t get anywhere. He finds Marcus Smart on the other side of the court, who starts to drive before finding Jayson Tatum near the bucket. A quick spin move gives Tatum enough space to lay the ball in with no time left on the clock. What a play. 

Looking Ahead as the NBA Playoffs Continue

The 2022 NBA Playoffs continue with several teams looking to close out the series early this week. At the conclusion of the first round, the playing field will be down to eight teams and action will resume on May 2nd and 3rd. From that moment, we all know anything can and will happen. 

Last week, I gave my personal predictions for the NBA Playoffs. I had the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, and Utah Jazz advancing in the West. I also had the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia 76ers advancing in the East. 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Our Predictions for the NBA Playoffs

If you’d like to see who I had advancing from there – and ultimately who I had winning it all – check out our playoff predictions in the link above. Better yet, let us know what your predictions are. Who knows, maybe our predictions look similar and maybe we can both be right this year!

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