Unsung Hero – Bismack Biyombo
Unsung Hero – Bismack Biyombo
After center Jonas Valanciunas went down with a badly sprained ankle in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals versus Miami, fifth year back-up center Bismack Biyombo would have to step up in his place and do anything in his power to get Toronto into the second round.
Scraping by Miami in seven games, Toronto moved on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. Cleveland was next. The Cleveland Cavaliers swept through the first two round with ease; everyone felt they’d do the same against Toronto. Nope. Well, almost.
Cleveland opened the best-of-seven series blowing out Toronto 115-84 in Game 1, and 108-89 in Game 2. All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan were playing inconsistently, as they did all postseason. Little did they know, an unsung hero—backed by thousands of crazed fans in support of their team—would tie up the series.
The unsung hero? Bismack Biyombo. The Toronto Raptors signed Bismack Biyombo on July 18, 2015, and haven’t looked back. Averaging 5.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game on 54% shooting during the 2015-16 regular season, Toronto fans knew the 23-year old Lubumbashian had talent, but Jonas Valanciunas was in his way to truly shine.
Biyombo is an animal on the boards, an excellent shot blocker, and plays with extreme intensity. His offense, though, is nothing to brag about… but he makes it work. Game 3 is set to tip. The Toronto crowd is amped, ready to watch their team snag their first win of the series. Biyombo hauls in an all-time franchise-best 26 rebounds—8 of which were offensive boards— to go with 7 points and 4 blocks, leading Toronto over Cleveland 99-84. Biyombo joined Hakeem Olajuwon, Dwight Howard, and Tim Duncan as the only players to record 25+ rebounds in a playoff game since 1984. This performance allowed Toronto fans to have trust in their backup center for the rest of the Playoffs.
In Game 4, Biyombo’s ferocity on the defensive end drove the crowd into a frenzy. Clutch rebounding towards the end of the game had “M-V-P” chants echoing through the Air Canada Centre. He finished with 14 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 5 points, leading Toronto over Cleveland 105-99.
In the two games that Cleveland fell to Toronto on the road, Biyombo averaged a beastly 20.0 rebounds per game. After Game 3, Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey compared Biyombo to a rebounding legend.
“He reminds me of a guy like [Dennis] Rodman going for the rebounds. He knows where the ball is coming off, he has a sense of where it’s coming off, and he does a good job doing that.”
Biyombo–who has a $3 million player option for next season–will have much larger offers on the table if he decides to opt-out and become a free-agent. His stock has risen since his breakout performances, and he is about to get PAID this offseason.
As Mark Jackson preached during Game 4, “Fear the Yombo!”