NBA 2017-18: The 5 Best Defenses of the Regular Season
The NBA season is about to end quite soon.
Cleveland is down 0-3 to Golden State in the NBA Finals, and teams with a 3-0 lead in the Finals have a 13-0 record thus far. Nothing we've seen in the series serves to suggest the presence of any ray of hope for the Cavaliers, and it's about time we drew curtains on the 2017-18 season and took a look back at how the season panned out for the entire league.
The regular season campaign saw the emergence of a new superteam in H-Town. The Rockets embarrassed franchises left, right and center on the way to usurping the #1 seed from the Warriors for the first time in 4 seasons, and they looked primed to upset them in the Conference Finals.
In the Eastern Conference, Kyrie Irving's move from Cleveland to Boston caused a seismic shift in the balance of Eastern Conference power. The Cavaliers slid to the 4th spot in the regular season Eastern Conference standings while becoming worse than 2016-17 on both ends of the floor.
The Toronto Raptors emerged from the regular season with the second-best record in the league and were supposedly primed to make their first NBA Finals series.
Neither of the aforementioned scenarios bore fruit, but this takes nothing away from the efforts of these teams through the 82-game regular season. Let's take a look at the most stifling defensive teams through the campaign:
#5 Toronto Raptors - 103.4 points allowed per 100 possessions
The Raptors improved vastly on defense in a large part due to their excellent draft pick, OG Anunoby. The British youngster is a true diamond in the rough, and he has already shown excellent lockdown potential as a one-on-one defender.
Several times through the regular season, he was asked to guard the best opposition player for extended stretches, and he rose to those challenges magnificently. Other emerging players like Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl were instrumental in the Raptors having arguably the best bench in the league during the regular season.
Their improved defense was key to grabbing homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs, as they finished the regular season with a 59-23 record - 4 wins clear of the Celtics in 2nd place.