We’re down to the Final Four in the NBA Playoffs, and what an exciting three-year postseason run it has been.
In 2006, there were more games decided by one point in NBA playoff history. Two years ago we saw the biggest upset in a 7-game series, as the No. 8 seeded Warriors shocked the 67-win and No. 1 seeded Mavericks in 6.
And, last season old rivals Boston and LA hooked up in another NBA Finals.
This has been a fascinating postseason, as well, one that probably will be remembered as, "The Year of the Bounce Back." We’ve seen a lot of teams either out of gas or packing it in one game, only to bounce back the next game with a completely different performance.
There is often a "clash of styles," in the postseason, run-and-gun uptempo teams against defensive-oriented ones. The Western Conference Finals features two teams that have to figure out what style they want to play.
Denver has been an uptempo team most of the season. In the playoffs against New Orleans they stepped up their defensive intensity, only to revert to a run-and-gun style in beating Dallas in 5. Denver and the Lakers faced each other a year ago, and it was one the Nuggets would rather forget – getting swept.
The Nuggets averaged 110 points per game during the regular
season, but the Lakers held them to an average of 101 in their four-game sweep.
Denver had the same problem the previous season, as the Spurs turned on their
defensive jets and held the Nuggets to 88, 91, 89 and 78 points the last four
games, all wins by San Antonio.
Defense is the common ingredient in all sports when it comes to advancing in the postseason and winning championships. Naturally, coaches know the value of defense this time of year and you often find the better defensive teams advancing and facing each other.
As we enter the final stretch of this NBA season, keep in mind that the last five years the under is 60-41-1 combined in the Eastern/Western Conference Finals and the NBA Finals.
Defense doesn’t disappear this time of year, it often gets more intense.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Jim Fiest