5. Yao Ming nearly goes perfect from the field
7-foot-6 center Yao Ming made quite the waves when he landed with the Rockets in the 2002 NBA Draft as the first overall pick. He became the first international player selected first overall without any college experience. His previous production in the Chinese Basketball Association was enough to impress NBA scouts.
In the 2005 NBA Playoffs, it looked like the Rockets were going places led by Yao and All-Star Tracy McGrady. In Game 1 of the first round, they defeated the Dallas Mavericks 98-86 on the road. In Game 2, Yao caught fire, as he shot 13-for-14 from the field with 33 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
Down the stretch, Yao’s presence in the paint worked wonders for his backcourt mate. They trailed by seven points with 5:41 left, but Yao didn’t blink as he led the comeback. When he wasn’t scoring down low, he was freeing up McGrady for open looks. McGrady nailed the game-winning shot to send Houston home with a 2-0 series lead.
Things would fall apart for the team, as they would go on to lose the series 4-3 in seven games, but Yao set a tone with his efficiency and size. It wasn’t his only playoff moment, but it showed he was more than just a player from China. He produced 21.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game against the Mavericks in just his second playoff series.