Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor
USC alum DeMar DeRozan is playing the best basketball of his career right now leading the Toronto Raptors to a franchise-best 49 victories as postseason play begins. The NBA recognized the guard's impressive month by naming DeRozan the Kia NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month on Friday. In the past month, DeRozan led the East in average points per game (24.1) and free throw attempts (49), while also averaging 4.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds and shooting 49.2 percent from the field. This is the first time he has received this recognition joining Kyle Lowry (December 2014) and Chris Bosh (January 2007) as the only Toronto Raptors to earn this honor.
DeRozan finished game one with a double-double, scoring 15 points and nabbing 11 rebounds, but the Raptors dropped the series opener 93-86 against the Washington Wizards in overtime. DeRozan and the rest of the Raptors will look to avenge the opening loss to the Wizards on Tuesday at 5:00p.m. PST.
Taj Gibson has become an annual fixture in the NBA Playoffs for the Chicago Bulls. In 25 minutes, Gibson racked up 8 points and 11 rebounds to help the Bulls defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 103-91 in game one of the series. Gibson is a little banged up, but the coaching staff is relying on him to be a crucial, impact player as the series continues. Game two will be Monday night at 5:00p.m. PST.