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2011 NBA Finals: Lebron James, 5 Best Defenders in Finals

Matt CoanCorrespondent IIMay 31, 2011

2011 NBA Finals: Lebron James, 5 Best Defenders in Finals

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 24:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat defends Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2011 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat won 101-9
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The age-old adage "defense wins championships" has proven true throughout these playoffs, and the two remaining teams have shown they can play team defense with anyone in the league. 

    Each team has its weaknesses at certain spots on the floor defensively, but overall, they are great defensive teams with great individual defenders.

    This list will rank the top five individual defenders in the series and why they are so good at what they do.   

5. Jason Kidd

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    MILWAUKEE - NOVEMBER 16: Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks passes the ball as Ersan Ilyasova #7 of the Milwaukee Bucks defends at the Bradley Center on November 16, 2009 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Mavericks defeated the Bucks 115-113 in overtime.  (
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Kidd has transformed his game both offensively and defensively since coming to Dallas, and he has vastly improved his on-ball defense.

    Kidd has always had great hands for swatting balls, disrupting passes and getting steals to help his team slow down opposing players, but in these playoff series, he has proven he is one of the best defensive point guards in the game.

    Kidd guarded Kobe Bryant when the Mavericks played the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs and slowed him down, playing a huge part in the series sweep.

    If Kidd ends up guarding Dwyane Wade, it will be interesting to see if he slows down the 2006 Finals MVP like Keith Bogans did in the Eastern Conference Finals.

4. Dwyane Wade

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    MIAMI, FL - MARCH 19:  Guard Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat blocks the shot of guard Ty Lawson #3 (R) of the Denver Nuggets at American Airlines Arena on March 19, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by dow
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Wade has always been a good defender, and since being paired with LeBron, the Heat's superstars have become the best tandem of on-ball defenders in the league.

    Wade is capable, can guard three positions and has no problems bodying up a small forward or shooting guard who may have a size advantage against him. Wade can also stick with quicker point guards and prevent them from getting to the paint or finding open teammates.

    Wade makes his opposition work for everything on the offensive end.

    In the second round against the Boston Celtics, Wade chased Ray Allen through screens and helped to shut down the three-point specialist while still dominating on the offensive end. 

    In the Eastern Conference Finals, Wade guarded Derrick Rose in certain spots and helped the Heat make Rose's series a nightmare, holding him to poor field goal percentages and not allowing him to get to his spots on the floor.

3. Shawn Marion

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    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 26: Shawn Marion #0 of the Dallas Mavericks blocks a shot by John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on February 26, 2011 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downl
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Shawn Marion has had a career revival since coming to Dallas in a trade and has become a shutdown defender who is going to have his hands full in the finals.

    Marion's primary job will be to slow down James, just like it was against Kevin Durant and the Thunder.

    Marion did an excellent job on Durant, but James plays a different way, and it is impossible to shut him down completely.

    Marion will have to do his best to keep James from getting to the hoop and force James into settling for jump shots.

    This will be a fun matchup to watch and will be a real battle for both players.

2. Tyson Chandler

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 25:  Tyson Chandler #6 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts in the fourth quarter while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 25, 2011 i
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Since Tyson Chandler joined the Mavericks, the Mavs have gained something they haven't had in the past years' playoff runs—toughness.

    Chandler brings toughness to a team that used to be labeled soft, and since he became their rim protector, the Mavericks have become a better defensive team.

    Chandler will have to slow Chris Bosh and play great help defense to prevent James and Wade from getting to the basket off the dribble.

    Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki make a good defensive front court, and the combination of Dirk's versatility and Chandler's size really slows down opposing team's big men.

1. LeBron James

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 26:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat celebrates after the Heat won 83-80 against Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2011 at the United Center in Ch
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    LeBron can dominate a game on both ends of the floor, which makes him the best overall player in today's NBA.

    James can guard nearly any position on the floor and nearly any player in the league, and pairing his size with his speed makes for a deadly defensive combination.

    James shut down Rose in the fourth quarters of the Eastern Conference Finals and proved again why he will always be in the running for not only the league MVP but the Defensive Player of the Year award as well.

    James may have to guard Dirk at times during the series, and slowing him down is something that no one has been able to do at all during these playoffs.

    If James can stop—or even slow—Dirk at all in the finals, the Heat will have a great shot at winning, which would help LeBron win the first championship of his career.

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