One Way Every Team Left Standing Can Win 2013 NBA Title
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
The one way that every team left standing can win the 2013 NBA title is more achievable for some than it is for others.
The Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks, for example, would need to first overcome a semifinals deficit before beginning to truly think about competing for an NBA championship.
For each team left standing, however, that one way they can win a title involves leaning heavily on a unique strength.
In most cases, this path to a title would include a certain degree of luck in addition to riding that trait to a championship.
New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony Becomes Consistently Unguardable
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
After shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from three during the regular season, Carmelo Anthony has slipped to 39.1 and 30, respectively, in the playoffs.
On his way to creating a 3-1 deficit in the conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers, Anthony has shot under 40 percent in three of his New York Knicks' four games.
In the quarterfinals against the Boston Celtics, Anthony only shot 38.1 percent as well.
I fully understand that Indiana is on the verge of closing the Knicks out in Game 5, but if Carmelo gets his game back going at an elite level offensively, there isn't anyone in the NBA who is capable of defending him.
Anthony is better than anyone in the game at making bad, indefensible shots look easy. The only way New York has a chance at this point is if he gets back into that type of groove as quickly as possible.
Golden State Warriors: Splash Brothers Shoot Like Best Backcourt Ever
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
During the Golden State Warriors' first-round series with the Denver Nuggets, coach Mark Jackson referred to his starting backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as "the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game," according to Monte Poole of the Mercury News.
For the Warriors to accomplish the unthinkable, first coming back from a 3-2 deficit to the San Antonio Spurs and then winning the 2013 NBA title, Curry and Thompson would need to support Jackson's declaration on a consistent basis.
After scoring 44 points on 51.4 percent shooting in Game 1 of the conference semifinals, Curry came back to shoot only 28.6 percent in Game 5. Similarly, Thompson shot 53.3 and 50 percent during the first two games of the Spurs' series while shooting only 35, 38.5 and 25 percent in the next three.
In the postseason, though, the Splash Brothers have also combined to make 63 three-pointers, with Curry leading the league at 40 and Thompson ranking third with 23.
If they do catch fire consistently—as their teammates elevate their collective performance around them—the Warriors could give themselves a chance to make further history.
San Antonio Spurs: Channel Glory Years as the NBA's Old Uncle
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
With the elimination of the No. 1-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder by the Memphis Grizzlies, the San Antonio Spurs are the highest-ranked team remaining in the Western Conference playoffs.
Leading the Golden State Warriors 3-2, the Spurs appear to be in the driver's seat toward a conference championship.
To ultimately win the NBA title, however, the Spurs must continue to combine their championship experience with a collectively youthful performance from the original Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
While Duncan and Parker have been consistent All-Stars throughout the 2012-13 campaign, it has been Ginobili who stepped up his postseason performance the most.
But while the 12.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists he's averaging in the playoffs are improvements in each category over the regular season, Ginobili would need to be that same difference-maker he was during the Spurs' title years of 2003, 2005 and 2007 to win again in 2013.
If he is able to channel that youthful dominance down the stretch, the Spurs have a chance to beat anybody.
Indiana Pacers: Collect ALL of the Rebounds
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Indiana Pacers are leading the NBA in postseason rebounding, averaging 48.2 per game.
They have collected 10.8 rebounds more than their opponent, which is twice as many as the next highest team in that category.
During their 93-82 Game 4 win over the New York Knicks, the Pacers won the rebounding battle by a staggering margin of 54-36.
In each of their seven playoff victories, in fact, the Pacers have out-rebouned their opponent.
To win an NBA championship, however—while moving past a Miami Heat team with superior talent—the Pacers would need to use their rebounding domination to dictate the outcome of the series.
As good as they are now on the glass, the Pacers must become even more superior down the stretch to complete a Hoosiers-like march to the NBA title.
Memphis Grizzlies: Collective Dominaton the Defensive End
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Just as soon as the conference semifinal between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs is decided, the Memphis Grizzlies will begin playing for a Western Conference championship.
In order to advance to the NBA Finals and ultimately win, however, the Grizzlies will need to collectively dominate on the defensive end of the floor.
Led by the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year in Marc Gasol, Memphis currently ranks No. 5 in terms of opponents' points per game, allowing 92.4 during the postseason.
On their way to winning each individual battle defensively, Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph and the rest of the Grizzlies will need to collectively improve in each category to play the level of defense needed to close out the season as NBA champions.
Miami Heat: Big Three Stay Healthy Throughout Postseason
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
All three are capable of taking a game over at a moment's notice, and all three have done so before in the postseason.
Just when some began to think that Wade had taken a step back, for example, he changed his shoes during a break in Game 5 against the Chicago Bulls and closed out the series.
Both individually and collectively in now their third year together, James, Wade and Bosh have developed an on-court chemistry that is simply unbeatable.
If those three players are in uniform together throughout the playoffs, the Heat will repeat as NBA champions.