Recent NBA Finals show good offense, not defense, wins championships

While defense is always important, these champions have used offense to reach the ultimate goal. (clockwise from top left) LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki.

While defense is always important, these champions have used offense to reach the ultimate goal. (clockwise from top left) LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

With the NFL playoffs underway, the old adage “defense wins championships” will be repeated ad nauseam by commentators and analysts. While that may apply to other sports regularly, the NBA has seen a trend of offensive excellence in recent NBA champions. While contributors at sportingcharts.com may have concluded, “Having an efficient defense is more important than an efficient offense,” it seems a great offense is better than a great defense.

The 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs showed true offensive dominance during their championship run last season.

The 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs showed true offensive dominance during their championship run last season.

Case in point, the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs put forth one of the most dominant shooting displays en route to a 4-1 route of the Miami Heat. According to ESPN Stats and Info, “All four of the Spurs wins came by at least 15 points, outscoring the Heat by an average of 14 per game for the series. That’s the largest points per game differential in NBA Finals history, breaking the record of +12.6 PPG by the 1964-65 Celtics in their victory over the Lakers.”

Both Tim Duncan (l) and Kawhi Leonard (r) have been NBA Finals MVP. They were both excellent defensively but also efficient offensively when they won the award.

Both Tim Duncan (l) and Kawhi Leonard (r) have been NBA Finals MVP. They were both excellent defensively but also efficient offensively when they won the award.

The Spurs had 4 regular rotation players shoot 50 percent or better from the floor and 35 percent or better from the 3-point line for the playoffs. In the NBA Finals their team shooting was even better with 6 regular rotation players shooting 50 percent or better and 6 different rotation players shooting 35 percent or better from the 3-point line.

(left-right) Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford have helped the Atlanta Hawks to one of best records in the NBA with their offensive efficiency. Can they sustain this high level into the playoffs?

(left-right) Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford have helped the Atlanta Hawks to one of best records in the NBA with their offensive efficiency. Can they sustain this high level into the playoffs?

Excellent shooting has become the deciding factor for NBA champions for the last decade now. Since 2005, every NBA champion has had at least 2 regular rotation players shoot at least 50 percent from the field and at least 3 regular rotation players shoot 35 percent or better from the 3-point line. Efficiency has become essential offensively as teams have transitioned away from the ground and pound style of offense that tended to be predictable to defend.

Could this be an NBA Finals preview? Stephan Curry (l) has the Golden State Warriors at the top of the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry (r) has helped lead the Toronto Raptors to one of the best records in the East.

Could this be an NBA Finals preview? Stephen Curry (l) has the Golden State Warriors at the top of the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry (r) has helped lead the Toronto Raptors to one of the best records in the East.

As the NBA season nears the halfway point, a handful of low-seeded playoff teams have become top seeds in the conference. Though it is still early in the season, comparing teams by offensive efficiency might be the best way to determine which teams will have long playoff runs. As of today, only the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors meet the 50 or 35 percent field goal/3-point threshold common in the last ten NBA champions with the Atlanta narrowly missing the criteria.

New York Times writer Rodger Sherman recently stated during last season’s playoffs, “Being the staunchest, stingiest squad on paper does not mean as much as an old saying might make it seem.” As the season continues, it seems efficient offenses, not stingy defenses, will be the best way to determine the next NBA champion.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and training/benefits consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com. For business inquiries contact (646)309-1938.

Sports memories of 2013

LeBron James continues to prove he is the best basketball player on the planet as he wins the NBA Championship and  Finals MVP in consecutive years.

LeBron James continues to prove he is the best basketball player on the planet as he wins the NBA Championship and Finals MVP in consecutive years.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Every year has a unique sports identity and 2013 had a number of trends that immediately come to mind. This year the sports world treated us to fantastic moments like a Super Bowl that was decided in the final minutes and thrilling plays throughout a seven-game series in the NBA Finals. Game 6 of the NBA Finals might be viewed as the game of the year as it provided us with scintillating plays all the way to the end.

Ray Allen (r) makes what might be the play of the year in 2013 as he drills a 3 pointer to tie Game 6 in the final seconds of regulation over Tony Parker (c) and Kawhi Leonard (l).

Ray Allen (r) makes what might be the play of the year in 2013 as he drills a 3-pointer to tie Game 6 in the final seconds of regulation over Tony Parker (c) and Kawhi Leonard (l).

We also witnessed serious tragedy in sports, headlined by the bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. While there was something memorable about the different sporting events throughout 2013, there were some trends that connected the various sports.

 

Derek Jeter (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are hoping to fully recover from their injuries and have a much better 2014.

Derek Jeter (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are hoping to fully recover from their injuries and have a much better 2014.

Superstar injuries: 2013 was a year in which some of the biggest names in sports spent a great deal of time on the injured list. Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Rob Gronkowski, Matt Harvey, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kemp, Rajon Rondo, Arian Foster and Russell Westbrook were just several of the many All-Star caliber players  who suffered lengthy injuries this calendar year. Adrian Peterson has altered the perception of the impact of some of these injuries as he returned in record time to win the 2012-13 National Football League (NFL) MVP award after tearing the ACL in his knee at the end of the 2011-12 season. It is becoming apparent that Peterson’s recovery was exceptional and that it seems unreasonable to expect any athlete to return to action and be better than they were before the injury.

 

Serena Williams raises her title as she continues her dominance at the U.S. Open.

Serena Williams raises her title as she continues her dominance at the U.S. Open.

Elite performances by the elite performers: The 2013 calendar year was tremendous for the best players in almost every sport. Peyton Manning set NFL records for quarterback in the 2013-14 season en route to a likely fifth MVP award. Miguel Cabrera proved to be the best offensive player in Major League Baseball (MLB), winning the American League (AL) MVP award for the second consecutive season. Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal each won two out of four Grand Slam titles this year on the tennis tour. Tiger Woods reclaimed his position as the number one ranked golfer in the world while winning five tournaments in 2013. Perhaps no performance stands out more than LeBron James capturing his second consecutive National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals MVP award and fourth league MVP award this year as he led the Miami Heat to back-to-back championships.

 

Mariano Rivera was classy as he watched the mess that is New York sports crumble around him,.

Mariano Rivera was classy as he watched the mess that is New York sports crumble around him.

Tough year in New York sports: The Yankees and Mets both faced numerous injuries to key players and failed to make the postseason this year. The Yankees had to watch their rivals the Boston Red Sox win another title. They also have to try to cope with the retirement of legend Mariano Rivera, the loss of their best offensive player Robinson Cano, the unavailability of currently suspended, scandal-plagued player Alex Rodriguez while hoping that Derek Jeter is going to be healthy and productive all season. The Giants and Jets both had mediocre seasons and will be watching the upcoming NFL playoffs from home, missing the chance to play in the Super Bowl which will be played in their hometown. Both football teams will likely make numerous player changes as they look to rebound next year. The Knicks and Nets are off to painfully slow starts to the 2013-14 NBA season. Any talk about NBA championship contention for either team seems extremely far-fetched as both teams have a long way to go just to make the playoffs this year.

 

2013 Boston Marathon participants are emotional wrecks as they witness copious innocent people injured on the street.

2013 Boston Marathon participants are emotional wrecks as they witness copious innocent people injured on the street.

Sporting world’s negative headlines: The two bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 may be the most unfortunately memorable event that took place in sports. With approximately 264 people injured and 3 spectators killed that day, the tragedy unfolded slowly over the next few days after the marathon as the manhunt, shootout with one alleged perpetrator and eventual capture of the other alleged perpetrators played out on television like harrowing scenes from the FOX Network show 24.

Many were surprised to witness Aaron Hernandez being arrested in connection with a murder shortly before the start of the NFL season.

Many were surprised to witness Aaron Hernandez being arrested in connection with a murder shortly before the start of the NFL season.

2013 was also witness to the arrest for murder and gun charges of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez is currently imprisoned as he awaits trial for the serious charges. The Miami Dolphins sparked greater debates about bullying in athletics as news surfaced about Jonathan Martin walking away from the team after alleging that he was bullied by teammates, specifically Richie Incognito. The NFL is still investigating this matter. Meanwhile, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was able to perform on the field while being investigated by local Florida prosecutors after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female who also attends Florida State. The prosecutor’s decision to not pursue charges against Winston still raised questions about whether some athletes get special treatment from law enforcement as the attorney for the accuser remains adamant that her client was violated. At the same time, Winston consistently asserted that his encounter with the accuser was consensual and that he “did nothing wrong.”

The Louisville Cardinals honor injured teammate Kevin Ware as they celebrate winning the National Championship in college basketball.

The Louisville Cardinals honor injured teammate Kevin Ware as they celebrate winning the National Championship in college basketball.

2013 was quite an eventful and memorable sports year. Kevin Ware breaking his leg during the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament was a gruesome sight but provided the impetus to propel the Louisville Cardinals to the national title. College football’s Nick Saban, coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Women’s college basketball’s Geno Auriemma of the Connecticut Huskies proved to be the dominant coaches in their sports as they led their teams to another national title.

Ray Lewis' last game in the NFL ended with him holding the Lombardi Trophy as the Baltimore Ravens were victorious.

Ray Lewis’ last game in the NFL ended with him holding the Lombardi Trophy as the Baltimore Ravens were victorious.

The Minnesota Lynx (WNBA) and Miami Heat (NBA) won championships in 2013 and have been in the finals each of the last three years. “Big Papi” David Ortiz led the Boston Red Sox through the post season again to win the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals. Meanwhile, Ray Lewis was able to retire on top as the Baltimore Ravens pulled out a narrow victory over the San Francisco 49ers. With the Winter Olympics in Russia and World Cup in Brazil (for which the U.S. team was placed in the Group of Death) on docket, 2014 seems poised to garner even more interest than 2013 did in the sports world.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Revisiting NFL playoff predictions for insight, context, perspective

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By Charles Glover, Jr.

As the final week of the regular season for the National Football League(NFL) approaches this weekend, this writer will revisit predictions made about the playoff teams at the start of the season. Most of the playoff spots are currently unsettled coming into the final weekend, bringing greater excitement and interest in the season finale for NFL teams.

Peyton Manning has led the Denver Broncos to the best record (12 - 3) in the AFC so far.

Peyton Manning has led the Denver Broncos to the best record in the AFC so far.

In the American Football Conference (AFC), the four divisions have already been decided. The winners of those divisions are:

AFC West – Denver Broncos (12 – 3)

AFC East – New England Patriots (11 – 4)

AFC North – Cincinnati Bengals (10 – 5)

AFC South – Indianapolis Colts (10 – 5).

One of the two Wildcard playoff spots is going to the Kansas City Chiefs (11 – 4), while there are several teams vying for the final playoff opening in the AFC. The Miami Dolphins (8 – 7), Baltimore Ravens (8 – 7), San Diego Chargers (8 – 7), and Pittsburgh Steelers (7 – 8) all have different scenarios in which they can make the playoffs if they win their last game this season.

Russell Wilson has led the Seattle Seahawks to the best record in the NFC so far.

Russell Wilson has led the Seattle Seahawks to the best record in the NFC so far.

In the National Football Conference (NFC) only three teams have clinched a playoff birth and none of the divisions have been decided yet. The current division leaders at this time are:

NFC West – Seattle Seahawks (12 – 3)

NFC South – Carolina Panthers (11 – 4)

NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles (9 – 6)

NFC North – Chicago Bears (8 – 7).

Based on conference records, the three teams that have clinched playoff births are the Seahawks, Panthers, and the San Francisco 49ers (11 – 4). The New Orleans Saints (10 -5) or Arizona Cardinals (10 – 5) can clinch the final Wildcard position with a win this weekend. The NFC North division winner will be decided on Sunday afternoon when the Bears face the Green Bay Packers (7 – 7 – 1). The winner of that game makes the playoffs. The same applies to the winner of the NFC East division deciding game between the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys (8 – 7) on Sunday night.

This writer was very wrong in predicting the Houston Texans (2 – 13) and Washington Redskins (3 – 12) would make the playoffs this season as they have the two most dreadful records in the NFL this season. However, there is still a chance that 10 out of the 12 predicted teams will make the postseason this year. The final playoff spot will be decided in the final game of the NFL regular season.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training specialist. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.