They say defense wins championships, and I am not one to argue with that. With the Spurs, Grizzlies, Heat and Pacers battling it out in the Conference Finals, we are looking at four teams who live and win with their defense.
The Grizzlies are ranked second in defensive efficiency with a slew of its players making up the All-Defense Team: Tony Allen (First Team), Mike Conley (Second Team), and Marc Gasol (Second Team and also Defensive Player of the Year). No wonder they traded Rudy Gay and brought in Tayshaun Prince, another defensive specialist.
The Spurs are ranked fourth in defensive efficiency and Tim Duncan continues to anchor the team on defense as he is voted into the Second Team All-Defense. Coach Pop's philosophy in defense has been his foundation that made them constant contenders for the past two decades.
The Heat are ranked seventh in defensive efficiency. LeBron James, voted into the First Team All-Defense, knows all too well how important defense is for him to win his rings -- the Spurs schooled him during the 2007 Finals as a Cavalier.
The Pacers are ranked best, with Paul George voted into the Second Team All-Defense. They dismantled the Hawks and the Knicks with their stifling defensive intensity.
These series will be grinding. Expect a lot of low scoring games. If you were hoping for more high PRAs these series, you are not in luck. You'll be happy to even get 30 any given night. The days of your stars scoring 30+ points against offensive-minded teams are gone. Sorry, but there are no showtime and no run-n-gun basketball here.
So, if defense is the key in the playoffs, then why aren't steals and blocks not part of this fantasy game? I'll tell you more in another post.