Every year there is a player or two that step out of obscurity and become a bigger part of their teams’ success in the playoffs. For every Michael Jordan there is a Steve Kerr, for every Dirk Nowitzki there is a Tyson Chandler or Ian Mahimi, for every Kobe Bryant there is a Sasha Vujacic. A player that contributes more in a playoff setting then they may have during the regular season. A player that raises their level of play at the right moment and contributes to postseason success.
For the Clippers, this year that player appears to be Reggie Evans.
Raptor fans are familiar with his skill set, his personality and just how valuable he can be.
He’s a banger. He grabs rebounds he has no business getting, makes himself a pain in the rear on the defensive end and moves around the floor grabbing loose balls and missed shots like he isn’t 250 pounds.
Reggie is a game changer, an “X-factor” and in a series as evenly matched as Memphis and the Clippers he might just be the difference maker in this series. A player that tips the scales in his teams’ favour.
Reggie has been putting together a nice run in the postseason. He’s increased his minutes to 22.6 per game. And he’s chipping in with 8.7 boards, and 50% shooting off the bench. This from a player that averaged 5 rebounds in 13 minutes during the regular season. His sudden playoff turnaround has come as a bit of a shock south of the border.
Of course while the rest of the US has been amazed with Reggie’s sudden good play, the Raptor faithful in Toronto aren’t surprised at all. That’s just how Reggie always played the game while he was here.
During Reggie’s two years in Toronto he made himself a fan favourite with his endless effort. Raptor fans weren’t used to seeing a player haul down rebounds on a regular and consistent basis. He did. He earned himself a starting spot during the 2010-11 season mainly because of this rebounding prowess.
Fans here couldn’t get enough of his effort. He wasn’t a shooter or a flashy player , by any stretch of the imagination, but no player endeared himself to the fans more than Reggie did. In fact, on a number of occasions during his time playing on the court and before he came back from injury in 2009 the fans at the ACC regularly chanted “Reg-gie, Reg-gie”. It now seems to be catching on in Los Angeles.
Reggie Evans was never expected to do big things in Toronto but he kept playing hard and eventually earned himself a starting role. He was the heart of this team for the time he was here and was greatly missed by the team this year.
This year he found himself in LA playing a much less important role. He didn’t get much time and was only able to make a marginal difference with 4.5 rebounds in limited minutes. He played off the bench behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and eventually Kenyon Martin too. He had to make the most of his minutes and, for the most part, he did. He was the same hardworking player he was in Toronto but the results weren’t as noticeable on the court or stat sheet as they were the year before.
That is, until now.
The playoffs have been a totally different story and it seems like Reggie Evans was built for this time of year. In the NBA playoffs players with his skill set become king. Look at how Tyson Chandler exploded last year or how important Joel Anthony was during the Heats’ run last year. Reggie Evans can be a difference maker in this series. He may even become a difference maker in the playoffs in general, if, of course, the Clippers are fortunate to make it beyond Game 7 in Memphis on Sunday.
Then again, Raptor fans already know how valuable Reggie Evans can be. We had him for 2 years and were fortunate to watch him beat up opposing offenses.
Now while the Raptors prepare for an important offseason fans can sit back and enjoy watching Reggie get up to his old antics with the Clippers.
Hopefully we will get to see a little more of him after Sunday as well.
The Zan Tabak Herald