It's well known that the regular season is where good players dominate but the playoffs are where they become legends. Year after year, some players take it upon themselves to lead their teams to the ultimate glory, while others perform way below the expectations.
The playoffs are a make-or-break time for some players. They know that their legacy is on the line and that whether they live up to the task or not can end up defining how their peers think of them.
That's why so many players crumble under the pressure. Either because of his rivals' adjustments, bad luck, fatigue, injuries, or just a tough stretch, they fail to perform at the same level they did throughout the regular season.
Needless to say, the first round of the 2020/21 playoffs haven't been the exception to that rule. And today, we'll talk about the 5 NBA stars that have vastly struggled with their play thus far.
5. Chris Paul
9.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 41% FG
Putting Chris Paul on this list could be unfair, for he's been hurt since Game 1. Then again, no one can deny that he hasn't played at the same level he did throughout the regular season, even if it's due to that nagging shoulder injury.
Paul is deferring shots he'd usually take, favoring one arm, and making mistakes we'd never see out of him if he were healthy. Hopefully, he'll get back on track for the final two games of the series.
4. Kristaps Porzingis
15.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 46% FG
Last year, it seemed like the Dallas Mavericks would've beaten the Los Angeles Clippers with a healthy Kristaps Porzingis. This season, Tyronn Lue's team has completely exposed him.
There's no way a player who's 7'2'' and playing over 32 minutes a night is averaging just 4.0 rebounds per game. He's settling for tough, contested jump shots and refusing to post up, even when he's got 5 or 6 inches over his defender.
3. Julius Randle
16.8 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 27% FG
Julius Randle was the clear-cut favorite to win the Most Improved Player award this season. He was the best player in the New York Knicks and the main reason why they made the playoffs, to begin with. Sadly, he's been far from his usual self in the first round.
The Atlanta Hawks have swarmed Randle and are putting 2 or 3 bodies in front of him every single time he tries to drive, and that's clearly taking his rhythm away. He's shooting just 27% from the floor and they're forcing him to pass the ball more often than he should've.
2. Kemba Walker
12.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, 31% FG
It's been a tough year overall for Kemba Walker. He failed to bounce back from his subpar first season with the Boston Celtics, partly due to a lingering knee injury, partly because of his fit.
He missed a game of the first-round series because of that very same injury but it's not like he's giving them much on the court either, shooting just 31% from the floor and getting completely owned on defense by Kyrie Irving.
1. Jimmy Butler
14.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 29% FG
Jimmy Butler was the most disappointing player in the playoffs and it's not even close. If Paul George played nearly half as bad as Butler played vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, he would be all over the internet with countless memes and clips mocking him.
Butler wasn't aggressive as he usually is. His shot was way off, and his confidence continued to diminish as the series went by. He could never shake off Jrue Holiday's pesky defense and shot just 29% from the floor.