The NBA Playoffs are just getting started but he have enough information to start passing judgement on a few things, although, let’s be honest — this is the internet and information is not necessarily a prerequisite for judgement. Regardless, nearly a week into the postseason we’ve begun to see two tiers of performance reveal themselves: the things that can be stopped and the things that can not.
Obviously every fan would like their favorite player and team to fall into that second, unstoppable category. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled an incomplete guide on how to get there. Just follow these simple steps.
Have absurdly long arms
There’s obviously far more to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game than just wingspan. But those long arms are the juice — his defensive anticipation and disruptiveness, his ability to slice through the defense and finish over and around defenders, his ability to transcend space and time — it’s made possible because he’s got a few extra inches on those upper extremities.
Take this for example. Giannis is at least 15 feet away from the basket when Brogdon releases the shot. Patrick Patterson is in position to box out, but Giannis simply reaches over him to tap the ball to himself off the back board. Then he does his best Mr. Fantastic impression to reel in the carom, calmly dropping the layup while the rest of the Raptors rub their eyes and ask each what the hell just happened.
Or this possession, later in the same game, where Giannis uses the screen to drive baseline but is met outside the paint by two stout defenders — Patterson and P.J. Tucker. Giannis calmly stretches over the top and delivers a face-melting dunk.
The Raptors held Giannis to a less efficient 9-of-24 shooting performance in Game 2, but he still chipped in 24 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals and the Bucks outscored the Raptors by six points in the 42 minutes he was on the floor. Unless Dwane Casey and the Raptors have finished a prototype of their shrinking ray, they’re probably not going to be stopping Giannis.
Make shots from anywhere, and I mean anywhere
Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but Stephen Curry has unlimited range on his jump shot. He’s been relatively quiet in the Warriors two big wins over the Portland Trail Blazers but watching him bring the ball over half-court is like treading water and seeing a fin pop-up 25 yards away. It might be a dolphin. Or you might be about to lose a limb.
In Game 2, Curry calmly pulled from 34 feet, with 20 seconds left on the shot clock. He wasn’t even open, the much taller Evan Turner was just an arm’s length away. Splash.
Curry made 13 3-pointers from 30 feet or more during the regular season, more than anyone else in the league and more than the entire Trail Blazers’ roster, combined. It’s not a hyper-efficient shot for Curry but it’s canker sore in the moth of the defense. No matter how hard you try, you can’t stop running your tongue over it, or forget it’s there.
Play harder, better, faster, stronger
It’s been only lightly reported but the Chicago Bulls have kind of been roughing up the Boston Celtics on their way to winning the first two games of the series. Chicago is, theoretically, at a disadvantage against the Celtics by virtue of being the Bulls and having this goofy roster. But sometimes playoff basketball can embiggen the spirit of the smallest man…or a 7-footer like Robin Lopez.
Lopez has been an absolute beast on the offensive glass, treating Kelly Olynyk and Al Horford like Milhouse and Ralph Wiggum. Basketball is a thinking man’s game. It can also be a brutish world’s strongest big man competition. If you like what Lopez has been doing, check out the Pacers trying to guard Kevin Love in the post with Lance Stephenson and C.J. Miles.
Fronting Love in the post certainly isn’t going to work, not with the sharp passing of LeBron and Kyrie Irving. You miss Love’s aggressive pin and seal on Stephenson on the second play as the broadcast team admires Nate McMillan’s suit game, but it was a sight to behold. On the final one, Love just pushes Stephenson into the paint.
Mass times velocity equals domination. It’s science.
Be LeBron James
If you want to be unstoppable in the NBA Playoffs, the easiest way to do it is to be LeBron James. He’s got skill and size and speed, heck he even has some of those ringz everyone is always talking about. When it comes to the list of unstoppability, LeBron pretty much checks every box.
Isolate against one of the best wing defenders in the league and hit him with the soft 16-foot turnaround? Check.
Seek out the mismatch with a smaller defender and hit him with that polished post game? Check.
Be in the right place at the right time and make a poster? Check.
Take these cats off the dribble without breaking a sweat? Check.
Draw the defense to you like ants to an errant raisin and then kick out to your broseph in the corner for an open 3? Check.
That’s it, that’s the magic formula. Be LeBron. Everything else is just a plan built around luck and chicken wire.