These 5 surprise players took center stage in the first round of the NBA playoffs

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs - Game Five

Players such as Robert Horry and Steve Kerr made it their mission to bring home the bacon come playoff time.

Sure, there were guys everyone expected to produce as the NBA playoffs came along.

But during a championship run, other role players would have to step up and become bigger pieces for a team to be able to go all the way.

This year's first round featured a handful of candidates who fit this bill.

Some of them are bench players who took a bigger role, good players who overcame injury, or even aging stars who reclaimed old glory.

Here are the five most surprising stars from the first round of the NBA playoffs:

Chicago Bulls v Boston Celtics - Game Five


After Rajon Rondo led the Chicago Bulls to victories in the first two games in Boston, it was discovered that he broke his right thumb in Game 2.

The first options to replace him at point guard were Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams, but both struggled.

In Game 4, coach Fred Hoiberg leaned heavily on Isaiah Canaan, who was inactive for the first two games, but then started Games 5 and 6.

For the most part, Canaan delivered, scoring 35 points in the final three games (all losses). He only delivered four assists in the three games, though, and counterpart Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics regained his form offensively. 

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets - Game Five


Nene wasn't sure after last season if he would play again.

The Rockets sure are glad the 34-year-old did.

The Brazilian veteran came up big in the five game first round series win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, including a ridiculous Game 4.

Coming off a Game 3 loss, Nene turned in a 28-point, 10-rebound performance that included a perfect 12-for-12 shooting performance from the field in the 113-109 victory.

For the series, Nene averaged 13.6 points and 6.6 rebounds, up from his regular season averages of 9.1 points and 4.2 rebounds.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Seven


There's nothing that unusual about Derrick Favors making quality contribution off the bench, as he's been a strong post player in his seven seasons with the Jazz.

But given the rigors of a tough season on Favors' body, coach Quin Snyder probably didn't know what to expect from the Georgia Tech product. Besides, Favors missed 32 games this season because of injuries.

Instead, the 25-year-old delivered.

In Sunday's Game 7, only the biggest Utah Jazz game of recent memory, Favors came through with 17 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes of action, as starting center Rudy Gobert battled foul trouble.

The playoff averages for Favors of 10.0 points and 6.4 rebounds weren't that much better than his regular season outputs of 9.5 points and 6.1 rebounds.

But when it mattered, Favors stepped up in the big moment.

Boston Celtics v Phoenix Suns


Speaking of big moments, Gerald Green hasn't had too many of them in his career.

But when the Boston Celtics needed a change after falling into a 2-0 hole against the Chicago Bulls, coach Brad Stevens turned to Green for a spark.

The 31-year-old delivered.

Stevens inserted Green into the starting lineup for Game 3 and Green responded with an 18-point, 7-rebound game that sparked a 104-95 vicotry.

With the ball now rolling, Green added 16 points in Game 5.

For the series, Green averaged 7.5 points per game after only getting 5.6 per game in the regular season.

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three


NBA fans aren't surprised to see Tony Parker making big plays in big playoff games.

But THIS Tony Parker? The 34-year-old veteran?

Those who watched the veteran point guard struggle at times in his worst statistical season since his rookie year might've been caught off guard by the Tony Parker of old showing up in April.

Parker outscored his season average by more than 6 points a game - all that despite scoring zero points in Game 3 against the Memphis Grizzlies.

But the Frenchman caught fire at the end of the series, averaging 21.7 points per game over the final three, including a 27-point effort in the knockout Game 6.

His turning back of the clock was a delightful surprise for Spurs fans.

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