2016 NBA Playoffs: The unsung heroes from the teams in the Conference Finals
As a whole the 2016 NBA Playoffs have been quite dull to say the least. It was either injuries hampering certain teams from playing up to their potential or just some questionable and disappointing play on the part of some other teams.
Nonetheless, the Western Conference and particularly the Oklahoma City Thunder saved the league with its post-season. First, by eliminating a 67 win team, the San Antonio Spurs, in the Conference Semis and then pushing the record setting 73 win Golden State Warriors team to seven games in one of the most historic series in Western Conference Finals history.
In the East, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers progressed to their second straight NBA Finals without any hiccups, losing just two games, beating the Toronto Raptors in the East Finals.
Playoffs is the time for the superstars to shine but ultimately every championship team has those one or two unexpected role players, who step up, and help their team in their Playoff run.
Here is one unsung hero from each team in the Conference Finals:
#1 Andre Roberson – Oklahoma City Thunder
Last year the Golden State Warriors during their Conference Semis series with the Memphis Grizzlies totally disregarded Tony Allen, who is not known for his shooting, allowing them to put more pressure on the rest of Allen’s team in the paint. So despite being among the elite defenders in the league, Allen ultimately had to play reduced minutes so his team could play more freely on offense.
Despite his impressive perimeter defending, Andre Roberson was not known for his shooting and the Oklahoma City Thunder were well aware that he could get such treatment in the latter stages of the Playoffs. As predicted Roberson was left on an island on offense against the Spurs and the Warriors.
However, OKC Head Coach Billy Donovan had a counter ready against such a tactic and when called upon, Roberson applied it to perfection. Coach Donovan asked Roberson to be aggressive and drive to the basket, forcing the defense to react to him which would then open up passing lanes.
Another wrinkle coach added was to use Roberson as a screener when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have the ball. Being among the league’s top players, the defense have to double up on Durant and Westbrook, and on almost every such play Roberson has been able to make the right decision on such 4 on 3 situations as he drives towards the rim.
His positive activity on offense to go along with his suffocating perimeter defense made him a huge part of Thunder’s long and successful post-season.