That point I made earlier about teams scheming away from Kawhi Leonard’s shutdown wing defense didn’t come out of thin air. Here’s a perfect example on a crucial possession late in the Grizzlies’ Game 4 victory:
Portland emerged with a bold plan early on: Ditch the long windups of their Flow offense and attack with their guards off the dribble, even if it meant going right at Green.
It seems odd to target the potential Defensive Player of the Year, but there’s some sense in the approach. If you had to rank Green’s defensive skills, No. 1 would be his ability to read the other nine guys on the court, No. 2 is his shot-blocking, No. 3 are his hands, and No. 4 is his ability to shut down anyone one-on-one. No. 4 is still a special trait, but it’s not quite as dominant or unique as Nos. 1-3. By forcing Green to actually guard their best offensive player, teams negate strength No. 1 and limit the impact of strength Nos. 2 and 3.
So what changed in the other 13 quarters? After a half to process Portland’s approach, the Warriors remembered that the Blazers play three self-checks on the wings in Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Evan Turner. They grew more daring at leaving those players open to flood help to Lillard and McCollum. Even when the Blazers tried to target Green again, he didn’t need to actually stop those guys as much as funnel them into the other Warrior defenders.
Bradford was on track for success after being handed the keys to one of the worst teams in franchise history (1-15 in 2009) and holding his own. During one stretch, he set a record for most passes without an interception for a rookie. The Rams, though, never improved as a franchise, and Bradford was plagued by injuries.
Tebow started the last three games of his rookie season but was used Plain Cheap Jerseys often in the Broncos’ wildcat package. It wasn’t until his second season, after Kyle Orton was benched, that Tebow mania arrived.