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So much has been made, a minimum of in some corners of social media, of the difficult paths the Warriors and Celtics have taken to the NBA Finals, a minimum of with regards to elite avid gamers. If the Warriors win the championship, Stephen Curry can have led them via matchups in opposition to the reigning, two-time MVP (Nikola Jokic), a second-team All-NBA guard (Ja Morant), a first-team All-NBA guard who additionally took place to complete 5th in MVP vote casting (Luka Doncic), a first-team All-NBA ahead (Jayson Tatum) and the Defensive Participant of the 12 months (Marcus Sensible).
At the turn aspect of that coin, if the Celtics had been to win, Jayson Tatum can have led his workforce via a second-team All-NBA ahead (Kevin Durant), a first-team All-NBA ahead who completed 3rd in MVP and vote casting and gained two MVPs within the closing 4 years (Giannis Anteokounmpo), possibly essentially the most spectacular person participant in those playoffs (Jimmy Butler) and a second-team All-NBA guard (Curry).
The ones are spectacular lineups of festival however they’re extra signs of workforce power than of person hindrances to be cleared — Curry wasn’t guarded by way of and didn’t in reality guard Jokic or Doncic, Tatum simplest spent 47 possessions throughout seven video games as the principle defender on Giannis Antetokounmpo. However the use of that concept as a thought-starter, I attempted to seek out probably the most hardest paths to a name over the last few years, with regards to exact person matchups.
How do the trails of Jayson Tatum and Steph Curry examine to probably the most hardest ever?
As an example, take a look at what Kawhi Leonard went via in 2018-19.
Kawhi Leonard — 2018-19
Defensive Matchups (avid gamers defended 100+ possessions): Ben Simmons, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Aaron Gordon, Khris Middleton, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Inexperienced, Jimmy Butler
Offensive Matchups (avid gamers defended by way of 100+ possessions): Ben Simmons, Khris Middleton, Aaron Gordon, Andre Iguodala, Malcolm Brogdon, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson
For the sake of comparability, the one avid gamers Curry has defended or been defended by way of for greater than 100 possessions this postseason are Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks and Reggie Bullock. Now not moderately the similar degree of person problem.
Then again, Tatum’s run this season in fact measures up to some extent.
Jayson Tatum — 2021-22
Defensive Matchups (avid gamers defended 100+ possessions): Wesley Matthews, Kevin Durant, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler
Offensive Matchups (avid gamers defended by way of 100+ possessions): Wesley Matthews, P.J. Tucker, Jrue Vacation, Bruce Brown
It’s nowhere close to as spectacular as what Kawhi Leonard went via but it surely’s somewhat greater than Curry and, if the Celtics win the name, including Klay Thompson, Draymond Inexperienced and/or Andrew Wiggins to that record on both finish could be spectacular additions.
The NBA’s matchup statistics simplest return to the 2017-18 season and taking a look again that a ways we don’t see anything else from Curry that in reality deserves calling out. However what Kevin Durant confronted that season used to be beautiful vital.
Kevin Durant — 2017-18
Defensive Matchups (avid gamers defended 100+ possessions): Jrue Vacation, Eric Gordon, LeBron James, Hames Harden
Offensive Matchups (avid gamers defended by way of 100+ possessions): Trevor Ariza, Jrue Vacation, Rudy Homosexual, LeBron James
Not anything for LeBron James or Anthony Davis had been specifically noteworthy for person matchups within the Lakers’ run to the 2020 championship however all 3 of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton and Jrue Vacation are value a minimum of stating.
Giannis Antetokounmpo — 2020-21
Defensive Matchups (avid gamers defended 100+ possessions): Blake Griffin, Jae Crowder, Deandre Ayton, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Inexperienced
Offensive Matchups (avid gamers defended by way of 100+ possessions): Blake Griffin, Deandre Ayton, Clint Capela, Jae Crowder
Khris Middleton — 2020-21
Defensive Matchups (avid gamers defended 100+ possessions): Joe Harris, Mikal Bridges, Kevin Huerter, Duncan Robinson, Kevin Durant
Offensive Matchups (avid gamers defended by way of 100+ possessions): Mikal Bridges, Bruce Brown, Kevin Huerter, Joe Harris
Jrue Vacation — 2020-21
Defensive Matchups (avid gamers defended 100+ possessions): Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Devin Booker, Trae Younger, James Harden
Offensive Matchups (avid gamers defended by way of 100+ possessions): Bogdan Bogdanovic, Devin Booker, Joe Harris, Kyrie Irving
Giannis’ matchups appear maximum notable for his or her vary, protecting and defended by way of everybody from wings to standard facilities. Middleton spent a large number of time chasing off-ball shooters but in addition matched up with Kevin Durant and used to be most commonly defended by way of probably the most best possible wing defenders within the league. After which there may be Vacation who confronted a quite meh team of defenders however spent a minimum of 100 possessions on 5 of the most efficient person creators within the league.
There’s a purely subjective workout and there aren’t any proper or unsuitable solutions right here. But when the Warriors win the name this yr it most definitely must be identified as extra of a workforce success than Curry single-handedly overcoming an array of elite person matchups. With a name, Tatum may just make a greater declare to that roughly narrative but it surely nonetheless seems like Kawhi Leonard nonetheless holds the belt for now.
Different NBA tales:
The Warriors have a mixed 123 video games of NBA Finals enjoy at the roster. The Boston Celtics? 0.
Jimmy Butler changed into essentially the most potent participant within the NBA playoffs, even if it wasn’t sufficient in any case. What did we be told from his postseason transformation?
The NBA passed out their first-ever Convention Finals MVP Awards this yr. What would the historical past of this award seem like if we return a long time?
Chris Herring is going deep at the Mavericks, what they nonetheless wish to repair and what comes subsequent after a shocking Convention Finals run.