The typical trends which allow teams to thrive in the playoffs have transpired as crucial again. Namely, this is playing good defense. Frank Vogel’s Indiana Pacers and Tom Thibodeau’s Chicago Bulls have held their own all year on the strength of elite defenses led by top notch strategists.
The type of defense employed by these Coach of the Year candidate would render them successful in any era.
As the dictum goes, “Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.”
Speaking of defense, there hasn’t been much played in the Golden State Warriors Vs. Denver Nuggets series. The Warriors stormed out with four starters scoring 20+ points in game 2 to even the series, while the Nuggets have the depth to strike fear into any NBA team.
In a discussion with Full Scale Sports‘ Matthew DiColla we agreed that the Nuggets are one of few NBA teams to employ a deep enough rotation to achieve a Rick Pitino-like effect on opposing teams. The Nuggets’ depth wears opponents out, and it’s difficult to keep pace with a team that has as many weapons as George Karl’s squad does.
Even the 11th and 12th men in the rotation have shown they are capable of stepping up and playing major roles (see: Evan Fornier). Karl is hesitant to play rookies, but has shown that they receive seasoning by playing with his Nuggets over the course of the season. Wilson Chandler has helped with Danilo Gallinari out.
And then there is the dominance of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, and also the oft-ignored San Antonio Spurs (Dig’s pick in the West). These teams all feature three or more players who could be No. 1 or No. 2 options on other teams.
The Thunder’s sixth man from last year, James Harden, averaged 25.9 points per game this season, had the third highest usage rate at his position, and transformed the Rockets into a playoff team in his first season as a full-time starter.
The fact he was surrounded by four other first-time starters illustrates the future hopes of the Rockets. Dig and I agree that the Rockets are the new Thunder, a team whose talents are only mitigated by their youth.
The Rockets have the league’s youngest starting lineup with an average age of 24 years. That indcates the room for growth for guys like Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik is very high. The Rockets need only add two players like Paul Millsap and Tony Allen to become true contenders, Dig agreed. The fact that they have the cap room to do this should scare the rest of the NBA.
Let’s look at the 2013 NBA playoffs so far, and dissect each series.
Follow Dig LaChance on Twitter @LaChance_Writer and Presto’s own Brett David Roberts @BDRHoops on Twitter, and tune into the official Loud About Basketball podcast, the Dig N Shot show.