NBA Playoffs 2013: Each Remaining Team's Biggest Weakness
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With each series of the NBA playoffs tied up at one a piece, each team has been able to recognize and exploit their opponent's biggest weakness.
While star power can propel a team to victory in a game or two, the difference between winning and losing a series comes down to attacking another team's weakness consistently while sufficiently making up for an internal weakness.
The key is to minimize your own weakness while continually exposing the opponent's until they are forced to drastically change, whether offensively or defensively.
Let's examine each remaining team's biggest weakness.
New York Knicks: Rebounding
If the Knicks are going to succeed, they will need to rebound the basketball. It's a simple formula, really.
Of course, numbers don't lie.
In their Game 1 loss to the Pacers, the Knicks were outrebounded by a total of 44-30. The leading rebounder for the Pacers was shooting guard Lance Stephenson with 13, which is inexcusable for the Knicks.
In Game 2, the story was different.
The Knicks outrebounded the Pacers 37-35 in route to an easy victory. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in rebounding in both games, a sign that everything revolves around the All-Star, as it has all season.
The Knicks big men need to channel their younger playing days and physically box out the Indiana attackers who continue to crash the glass hard.
Indiana Pacers: Turnovers
Possessions in the NBA playoffs are like diamonds; you have to cherish each and every one. You can't afford to give them up too easily or for too cheap.
The Pacers are giving away diamonds like it's their job, with Paul George being their best salesman.
George has 11 turnovers in two games.
Indiana's turnover problem is starting to grow more and more evident as the playoffs continue, and it is clearly the biggest weakness of a very well-rounded team.
In their Game 1 narrow victory, the Pacers committed 16 turnovers.
Game 2 was even worse, as Indiana managed to top their turnover number in Game 1 by five more, finishing with 21.
In an incredibly athletic league where teams such as the Knicks love to get out and run, constant live-ball turnovers are a recipe for disaster.
The Pacers need to take care of their diamonds and stop wasting possessions.
Miami Heat: Consistent bench play
But what happens when that well runs dry?
They look to veterans off the bench to score at a consistent rate, which hasn't necessarily happened so far in their second-round matchup with the Bulls.
In their surprising Game 1 loss, the Heat bench was non-existent. Ray Allen scored nine points while Shane Battier, Norris Cole and Chris Andersen scored 7, 6 and 3 points, respectively.
They don't need all of these guys to go off every night, just one or two, as was evident in their Game 2 blowout victory.
Allen exploded for 21 points and Cole for 18.
The Heat need more performances like this from the bench when LeBron and Wade become occasionally bottled up offensively.
Chicago Bulls: A true go-to guy
With Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich still sidelined, the Chicago Bulls have relied on Nate Robinson as their primary source of creativity and scoring.
While Robinson has proved he is capable of scoring in bunches, Chicago has no other guards who can score the ball (maybe Marco Belinelli, who is seemingly strictly a shooter).
Robinson has never had to shoulder the scoring load before, and it may be too much responsibility. The Heat defenders understand his explosiveness and have done their best to contain him.
They limited Robinson to 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting in Game 2.
If Deng comes back in this series and is healthy, he will take the burden off Robinson's shoulders and step back into the role of "go-to guy."
Oklahoma City Thunder: Scoring big men
Any team that has superstar Kevin Durant on it knows every other player can be classified as a role player.
But, as facetious as this may sound, role players have roles too.
In their Game 1 narrow victory against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Thunder received essentially all of its scoring from guards.
The members of the Thunder who are officially listed at power forward or center on the roster and who played in Game 1 are Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Hasheem Thabeet.
They combined for a measly nine out of the team's total 93 points.
No one is asking the Thunder big men to light up the box score, but simply to contribute buckets to take the load off of Durant at times.
Ibaka stepped up in Game 2 with 11 points on 5-for-12 shooting.
These types of performances will, at the least, keep OKC in every game. And Kevin Durant doesn't hurt that notion, either.
Memphis Grizzlies: An answer for Kevin Durant
Ironically enough, the Grizzlies have one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA in Tony Allen.
Apparently Kevin Durant didn't get that memo.
If the Grizzlies want to win this series, they need to slow Durant down. There is no stopping him, and understandably so.
Memphis can't keep allowing Durant to score 35 or 36 points as he did in Games 1 and 2, respectively. Or at least not as efficiently.
If it means more double teams, then so be it, but the Grizzlies need to let any player not named Kevin Durant attempt to beat them.
San Antonio Spurs: Inability to contain Warriors' backcourt
The Golden State Warriors' backcourt has been lethal in its first two games of the series in San Antonio.
Defensively, the Spurs don't have an answer to slow them down, but they need to come up with one, and quickly. Unfortunately for the Spurs, their matchups don't exactly match up, if you will.
Curry's ability to drive and shoot is a dual-threat nightmare.
The Spurs need to play more physical, quite frankly. Forcing Curry and Thompson into bad shots will only frustrate them into more low-percentage shots.
This is the best-case scenario for the Spurs defense against the dynamic backcourt of Golden State.
Golden State Warriors: Defensive rebounding
While the offensive explosiveness that the Warriors maintain is not a secret, the overlooked and vitally important defensive rebounding is just as significant.
The Spurs snatched 13 offensive rebounds in Game 1 and added another 17 in Game 2.
The Warriors don't ask much from their big men in terms of scoring, so their main responsibility is rebounding the basketball.
Keeping the Spurs off of the offensive glass will limit San Antonio's second-chance opportunities, an important feat considering the meticulous offense they run.
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