Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
A few years ago in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado, Al Gore delivered a warning.
The former Vice President told us all to beware of a vicious, flesh-eating hybrid creature. He called this mythical monster the ManBearPig, because it was half man, half bear and half pig.
Pretty terrifying, right?
Not if you've ever seen a Durant-LeBron-a-pottamus or a Curry-Harden-moose- asaur.
Or how about a fire breathing Jordan-Shaq-dragon? The very thought of it sends a shiver down my spine.
And so will this. Behold the Euro-stepping, ankle-breaking, three-point swishing NBA Playoff Monster.
Native to North America, the Playoff Monster is the most ferocious predator on the planet. If you want to survive an encounter with a Playoff Monster, you'll probably want to avoid any sudden movements. Knowing its strengths wouldn't hurt, either.
Court vision - Mike Conley: Sometimes I feel like Conley can see into my soul. The Memphis point guard is turning the ball over at a rate of just 1.9 times per game despite seeing more playing time than he did during the regular season (38.5 mpg versus 34.5). Only Steph Curry has generated more assists than Conley this postseason (Curry leads 91 to 84). With vision like that, Conley should be fighting crime in the offseason. We could use a man like him on the force.
Demeanor - Tim Duncan: There's no arrogance or flash to Duncan's game, just a quiet confidence that comes from winning four championships in an eight-year span.
You don't have to get mean to win a title. Kevin Durant nearly led the league in technicals this year and guess where that got him? Only the second round of the playoffs. At least KD can watch Duncan in HD tonight when the Spurs take on Golden State.
Anticipation - Tony Allen: Allen is kind of like Robin Hood, except when he steals something, he usually gives it to Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph. Only Monta Ellis (2.5 spg) has averaged more thefts than Allen (2.3) this postseason.
Allen doesn't mind though. While Ellis has been working on his short game, the Grizzlies just advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history.
Ice veins - LeBron James: Being the best player on the planet has its advantages. Even on an off-shooting night (5-for-14), LeBron still led his team in points (23), rebounds (seven) and assists (eight) Wednesday in a Game 5 win over Chicago.
Now all LeBron has to do is beat Indiana (or New York) and he'll be back in the Finals for the third year in a row. Miami has won 14 of its last 16 playoff games with LeBron on the court (27.2 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 6.9 apg over that span).
Footwork - Marc Gasol: Gasol might be the most nimble big man in the NBA. In the Western Conference semis, the Oklahoma City trio of Durant, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins were no match for the fleet-footed Gasol in the low post (19.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.8 bpg, 1.6 spg on 48.6 percent shooting).
Can you imagine seven games of Gasol/Duncan in round three? I can't wait to Tivo the heck out of that.
Speed - Tony Parker: The French word for fast is Tony Parker (actually, it's "rapide"). Having Parker on your team is like bringing a Ferrari to a bike race.
They say defense wins championships, but so does speed. Parker has already won three rings and he's well on his way to a fourth. Parker's 23.4 ppg scoring average this postseason is his highest since 2008-09 (28.6).
Finishing - Dwyane Wade: Nobody in the NBA does a more convincing Mariano Rivera impression than D-Wade.
Even on a bum leg, Flash found a way to close out Chicago in Game 5. Wade capped an 18-point performance Wednesday by delivering a dramatic put-back dunk off a miss by Norris Cole. That put Miami ahead 93-86 with three minutes to go.
That's classic Sandman.
Timing - Roy Hibbert: Right time, right place. That's the Roy Hibbert package.
Going up against Hibbert is just a no-win situation. If you're a second late on offense, he'll swat you (2.3 bpg this postseason). If you let your guard down on defense, he'll burn you with a little lefty hook (13.8 ppg in 10 playoff games). Or if he's feeling especially feisty (ask David Lee about getting on Hibbert's bad side), he might just pull a Blake Griffin and posterize somebody.
Hibbert proves that the NBA playoffs really is a game of inches. Seven feet and two inches to be exact.
The Playoff Monster only has one weakness and that's its terrible sense of fashion. In their natural habitat, you can often find one wearing a fedora, a pair of comically oversized glasses and a terrible-looking button-down. There's even one species that wears capris.
Suddenly, the ManBearPig is looking like a pretty well-dressed mythical beast.