Continuing our series of 2018 NBA Playoffs first round previews here at GiveMeSport.
READ: Part 1 – After a franchise-best season, the Toronto Raptors should not be threatened by the Washington Wizards
READ: Part 2 – The Golden State Warriors struggled down the stretch, but so did the San Antonio Spurs, and only one could afford to
READ: Part 3 – The Miami Heat play relentless defence, but the Philadelphia 76ers might have just too many stars
READ: Part 4 – Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans to face off in a battle of guards, threes and Anthony Davis
READ: Part 5 – The Boston Celtics may lack Kyrie Irving, but the Milwaukee Bucks lack for more than that
We talk quite often here at GiveMeSport about ‘evolution’ in the NBA, and the potency of groupthink, the largely psychological concept by which, when one team discovers a new way of playing or exploits a longstanding inefficiency in a way that is strikingly different and has some success, others copy it.
Usually a phenomenon resulting in negative outcomes for all, groupthink can also be the driving force of positive change, at least when the adopted ideal is as fundamentally correct as it is pervasive. New orthodoxies are found from within new ideas, and the evolution of the league hinges upon the few folk who can both identify worthwhile strategic development, and have the conviction and ownership support to pursue it.
At the turn of the millennium, isolation-style basketball was the thing, particularly from the guard positions. Best embodied by the unique brilliance of Allen Iverson, and ridden to some level of glory by Stephon Marbury et al, lead guards dominated the ball, held it, stopped it, and decided what play was right for the team through what they could create via their own handle, more so than by instinctively reading and reacting. With but the rarest of Jason Kidd-sized exceptions, point guards were invariably either Steve Francis or Rick Brunson. No one was both.