Ranking the 5 best individual performances to begin NBA playoffs
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports / Action Images

This weekend officially marked the start of the 2017-18 NBA playoffs, with all eight Game 1 matchups now in the books.

The league's brightest stars mustered huge stat lines for the most part, but not everyone was able to get their teams over the hump and jump out to an early series lead.

Of those who enjoyed the sweet taste of victory, here are the five strongest individual performances we've witnessed over the past few days.

5) Ben Simmons vs. Heat

Line: 34 minutes, 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting, nine rebounds, 14 assists, two steals, five turnovers, and a +15

For someone taking the floor for his first-ever playoff game, Simmons looked unfazed by the spotlight, outside of some wild shots during the first few minutes.

All eyes were on the young Aussie with his All-Star teammate Joel Embiid sidelined with an orbital bone fracture, and he delivered the goods. Simmons' 14 dimes were the second-most in history by a player in his postseason debut, next to Magic Johnson (16 in 1980).

Had he grabbed one more board, he would have joined Magic and LeBron James as the only players to hit a triple-double in a playoff debut.

4) Paul George vs. Jazz

Line: 38 minutes, 36 points on 13-of-20 shooting, 8-of-11 from 3-point range, seven rebounds, one steal, four turnovers, and a +3

"Playoff P" was in tip-top form at Chesapeake Energy Arena, thoroughly dominating the Jazz by being money on offense and a brick wall on defense.

George averaged 28 points across four outings during his last postseason berth with the Pacers in 2016. Then, he was the No. 1 option on a team devoid of a true No. 2, which is night and day from his situation in Oklahoma City playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.

On this night, the Thunder rode George's hot hand as much as possible, with the 27-year-old going on to establish a new franchise record for 3-pointers in a playoff game, shattering the previous mark of five.

3) Anthony Davis vs. Trail Blazers

Line: 41 minutes, 35 points on 14-of-26 shooting, 14 rebounds, one assist, two steals, four blocks, three turnovers, and a +1

The Pelicans unleashed the Brow, and boy, did it pay off.

Saturday's road game in Rip City was Davis' fifth career playoff appearance, and just his first win. New Orleans was swept by the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in 2015, so this series with Portland is arguably his first opportunity to advance with a fighter's chance.

There have been four players to score 25 or more points through their first five career playoff games: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron, Wilt Chamberlain, and Earl Monroe. You can now add Davis to that storied list after he got whatever he wanted against Portland's stout eight-ranked defense.

2) Victor Oladipo vs. Cavaliers

Line: 37 minutes, 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting, 6-of-9 from 3-point range, six rebounds, four assists, four steals, one block, four turnovers, and a +21

The Cavaliers hadn't lost a game in the first round since LeBron returned to the organization in 2014, which included a clean sweep of the Pacers a year ago.

That Pacers squad didn't have Victor Oladipo, though, and on this occasion, he was the ultimate difference-maker.

Related - Oladipo: Cavs owner's comments on George trade 'added fuel' to my fire

Quicken Loans Arena in April, May, and June isn't the easiest building in which to find success as a visitor, but you wouldn't know that from the way Oladipo conducted himself. He was composed, drilled big shots to halt Cleveland's momentum, and forced clutch turnovers when it mattered most.

1) James Harden vs. Timberwolves

Line: 41 minutes, 44 points on 15-of-26 shooting, 7-of-12 from 3-point range, four rebounds, eight assists, two steals, three turnovers, and a +5

Houston needed every single one of Harden's 44 points at the Toyota Center, with a feisty Timberwolves squad keeping pace with the Association's second-ranked offense right until the final buzzer.

The leading candidate for 2017-18 Most Valuable Player was the one Rockets player consistently knocking down shots from behind the arc. Everyone else on the team went a combined 3-of-25 from deep, with fellow starters (Trevor Ariza, Chris Paul, and P.J. Tucker) connecting on just two of their 15 attempts.

Harden dropped 12-straight points in the fourth quarter after subbing in for Paul to keep Houston from being the third home team to lose its advantage.

Honorable mentions: Klay Thompson vs. Spurs, Al Horford vs. Bucks, Serge Ibaka vs. Wizards, Clint Capela vs. Timberwolves

Ranking the 5 best individual performances to begin NBA playoffs
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