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News » Point guards have been key to postseason so far

Point guards have been key to postseason so far

Point guards have been key to postseason so far
There is no sense in avoiding the point, if only because that is exactly the point.

Peruse the boxscores of the NBA playoffs through the first week, and for the most part, the successful teams correlate directly with the productive point guards.

The better 2007 Finals MVP Tony Parker has played, the more dominant the defending champion San Antonio Spurs have looked while taking a 3-0 lead over the Phoenix Suns. Parker has run myriad defenders ragged as Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni has yet to find an answer for his ability to get to the rim.

2008 NBA playoffs

And realistically, it has set the tone in virtually every series. The young Atlanta Hawks thought they had found the answer to their youth and point guard problem when they acquired veteran point guard Mike Bibby from Sacramento at mid-season without cutting into their core. He helped them get into the playoffs for the first time this century, but he has been badly outplayed by the Boston Celtics' second-year point guard Rajon Rondo in the first two games. Bibby is just 4-of-17 from the field, averaging 8.5 points and 1 assist compared to Rondo's 13.5 points on 60 percent shooting. 8.5 assists and 3.0 steals.

Staying in the East, Jameer Nelson quieted his detractors for the Orlando Magic in the first two games against the Toronto Raptors, averaging 21.0 points and 5.0 assists in the two Magic victories, while the Raptors T.J. Ford was 2-of-17 from the field and averaging 5.5. But everything turned around in Game 3. Ford had a team-high 21 points; backup Jose Calderon added 18 and 13 assists and Nelson evaporated — making just 2-of-8 shots, 6 points and 5 fouls.

Two series that aren't really point guard oriented and haven't turned because of the position are the Cleveland-Washington series in the East and the Los Angeles Lakers-Denver series in the West. But the nature of the position still makes it a factor.

After the Cavs took a commanding 2-0 series lead with a 30-point win in Game 2, the Wizards turned around and became the only team in playoff history to follow a defeat of that magnitude with a comparable win — this one by 36. So what role did the point guard play in it? Well, first of all, the Cavs really don't have one. Delonte West and Daniel Gibson are merely charading as point guards so LeBron James doesn't have to do everything. But they were horrible in Game 3. On the flip side, instead of Gilbert Arenas dominating the ball for the Wizards as he did in the first two games, he didn't play after the first quarter of Game 3. Veteran Antonio Daniels and Roger Mason took over the bulk of the ballhandling and kept everyone involved. The result explained how and why the Wizards were so effective without Arenas all season.

Meanwhile, the Lakers got a serious upgrade when Derek Fisher returned to the team at point guard this season, as young Jordan Farmar continues to develop in the system. Granted, in coach Phil Jackson's offense, a traditional point guard isn't as necessary, but Fisher has been a big factor behind the success of a team that does a great job of sharing the basketball. Meanwhile, Nuggets coach George Karl, benched ineffective point guard Anthony Carter in Game 2, put the ball in Allen Iverson's hands while trying to create a matchup problem of size with 6-8, 245-pound Linas Kleiza at shooting guard. Kleiza was effective offensively, but it also allowed Kobe Bryant to go off with 49 points and 10 assists as the Lakers shooting guard because the Nuggets don't have anybody to match up with him. Not surprisingly, the Lakers up are 2-0 in the series.

Granted, the significance of the point guard is different from series to series. But the theme continues to hum along in the same manner. When a point guard is conducting his offense as well as Parker is right now, it creates sweet music. In contrast, everything else is just static.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 26, 2008


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