The second day of the NBA Playoffs really showed the incredible impact of “that guy”. Each team with championship aspirations has one. The player that does it all for them; scores, creates, comes through in the clutch, forces the entire game plan to focus on them. You see teams change what they do best to try and deal with what that player does best. That guy alters game plans.
Let’s take a look at 2 series in particular. Milwaukee-Detroit and Houston-Utah.
In the Milwaukee game, it is obvious what the strategy is to handle Giannis. Play off of him, take away his driving lanes and clog the paint. Now Giannis is a willing and able playmaker as well, so with the Bucks, he forces you to pick your poison. The Bucks were second in the league in made 3s per game, so it is a daunting choice. What Giannis forces from you though, is to change your game plan AND raise your level of play because of his incredible competitiveness. What makes someone “that guy” is this incredible, unstoppable will to impose winning on their teammates and the game. As the playoffs go forward, you will see this more and more.
For the Rockets, as everyone knows, their guy is James Harden. Much is put on James’ shoulders. He often gets questioned about his ability to affect winning itself. His talent and skill level are elite, and he certainly has been the MVP for the Rockets. Now, as these playoffs progress, we will watch to see if his will has grown enough to lift his team to the summit.
As the Playoffs go on and the intensity and stakes rise, let’s watch who each team looks to and who really is “That Guy”.