The 10 Best NBA Teams Played Better Without Their Stars – Basketball Insiders
#NBA #Teams #Played #Stars #Basketball #Insiders Welcome to Alaska Green Light Blog, here is the new story we have for you today:
Nothing fuels NBA passion like a strong display of teamwork. Of course, our usual supernatural basketball stars are used to dominating sports news headlines, but the problem is that playing all of the season’s games is almost impossible, and injuries are common for even the biggest athletes. Sometimes a team can face up to the situation and still win without it, and rarely do they find a way to play even better as a whole.
Inspired by the Lakers’ impressive, hard-fought win over Miami last night, we decided to create a special report on the best NBA memories from teams who, given the chance, can grow even stronger without their superstars. These are the 10 most spectacular cases we remember:
1. ‘Don’t worry, Magic Johnson is here’
It was 1980 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was dominating the NBA. This Los Angeles Lakers team wanted to prove they were building their own dynasty in professional basketball as they battled the Philadelphia 76ers for the title. By then, the 7-foot-2-inch Kareem had led the California team to lead 3-2 in the series, but he was reported injured in Game 6 and it was down to 6-foot-9-inch Magic Johnson to fill his shoes against Philly great Julius Erving. On that special night, Johnson truly became Magic as he recorded 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists to give the Lakers their well-deserved crown.
Works on his magic
— Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (@winningtimehbo) June 1, 2022
2. Knicks famous 1999 title race
It’s still a wonder the New York Knicks haven’t won an NBA trophy in over 50 years. Many say it didn’t matter how good their team was in the ’90s, they just couldn’t compete against Jordan and the Bulls in the Eastern Conference. As the Chicago dynasty came to an end, the Knicks would finally get their chance. It was 1999 and Patrick Ewing was on a spectacular run, playing as a true contender for that year’s MVP. Early on and throughout the playoffs, Ewing suffered many injuries. So, of course, New York feared the worst. Exceeding all expectations, the Knicks supplied the Knicks with fresh blood through to the finals without their injured star Patrick Ewing constantly present. It seemed like they had everything under control in the latter stages against the San Antonio Spurs, who had never won a championship before, but Tim Duncan’s side proved the strongest and Ewing’s team were beaten 4-1 in the series.
3. Neither Jordan nor Pippen
Yes, you read well…neither Jordan nor Pippen, just Steve Kerr! It was 1997 and of course we all know the Bulls were the greatest team in the world and Michael Jordan was seen as something of a god walking the earth. On that particular night in March, the Bulls lost by 7 points to Dallas late in the fourth quarter and Chicago shared no hope of victory as coach Phil Jackson had to bench both Jordan and Pippen until the end of the game. That night, Steve Kerr impressed everyone as he delivered back-to-back threes and set up his teammates for easy shots to initiate a comeback win in the dying seconds of the game. The memory of Kerr’s show proved that the mythical Chicago Bulls team was much more than just their famous superstar as they eventually set out to claim their fifth NBA title in seven years.
4. 2002 Raptors were better off without Carter
As explosive as Vince Carter was on the court, Toronto’s first NBA star was prone to injury. His rise and fall with the Raptors is a book of many chapters, but for now let’s settle for the story behind the 2001-22 season. That year, the Raptors were the real sensations of the NBA’s Eastern Conference, but 14 games before the end of the regular season, they failed to finish in the top 8 to qualify for the playoffs. Worse, they lose their star player through injury for the remainder of the season. Nonetheless, Toronto are starting to play their best basketball of the tournament and boasting an incredible 12 of 14 wins to qualify for the finals. The team’s strategy used to be to play for Carter, but after that the whole team gained confidence and played for each other. Unfortunately for them, Carter would never again qualify for the playoffs with Toronto and his decline with the Raptors would then slowly unravel.
5. First game without Larry Bird
Three-time MVP legend Larry Bird will forever live on as one of the biggest “what ifs” since he injured his back in 1985, a famous story he would always remember while helping his mother climb the driveway in the Winter and his back getting sore from a sudden movement. This would doom his career forever as it would increasingly affect his performances in the years that followed. The mighty Celtics would still dominate as one of the best teams in the NBA, but never the same. Eventually, in 1992, he decided to retire from professional basketball because he could only play half (45 total) of the 1991–92 season games. Early the next season, the Celtics honored the retired Bird with a season-opening win over the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-92.
6. Lakers share the ball
Back when it seemed impossible to imagine a successful Lakers team without Kobe Bryant, a torn Achilles ankle had to send the superstar to the touchline for 19 straight games. But the tragedy didn’t end there as Steve Nash also missed a large part of the season due to a back injury. At this point the press was very dramatic and expected a disastrous end to their spell. At one point, the press had sent the entire City of Angels into a pessimistic frenzy until not even Lakers fans showed up to support their home games. It was up to Paul Gasol to guide his teammates Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Robert Sacre to avoid disaster. Coach D’Antoni opted for a possession-driven strategy and was able to keep it together as a team to win 11 of 19 games, a much higher stat than before Kobe’s injury. Player Meeks said: “We don’t have superstars. Our superstar is coming back on Sunday, but we didn’t play 19 games, so we had to share the ball.”
7. When Ginobili was out for the rest of the 2009 season
Boy do we really miss having Manu Ginobili with us! What a player! In 2009, Spurs depended heavily on the Argentine magician’s talent and they were one of the favorites to take the title. Near the end of the regular season, in April 2009, the Spurs medical team ruled out Ginobili for the remainder of the tournament after his ankle stiffened during a game in Cleveland. With just a few games left in the playoffs and surrounded by much speculation as to whether Tim Duncan and the rest of the team could remain on the road to victory without the Argentine, the Spurs impressed, winning five of their last six games. Their first win without Ginobili was a convincing 10-point lead over the Grizzlies. With those stats, they seemed to be playing even better than with Ginobili on the pitch. Unfortunately, their pace didn’t last as long as they wanted as they were soon beaten by Dallas in the first leg of the playoffs to eliminate them from the championship race.
8. Is Jokic replaceable?
Nearly two hours before the game started, Nikola Jokić was included in Denver’s injury report back in 2022. Logically, panic arose among Nuggets fans when he was replaced on the starting lineup by newly signed center DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins’ first shot of the game was a three and after that he began to feel confident that this would be his game to shine. He finished the game with 31 points in under 23 minutes and led Denver to a 116-101 win over Houston, who were the least regular team last season. The Rockets just didn’t have an answer to Cousin’s bravery. Not many can argue that Jokić is the best NBA player in recent years, but given the right conditions, even he can be replaceable.
9. The first 76ers win without Harden & Embiid
Not long ago, the 76ers had to go through a regular-season game in March 2022 without their two main men. We’re talking about James Harden and Joel Embiid, two heavyweight stars who excel in their pursuit of the championship title. Last but not least, they took on a great Miami Heat and beat them 113-106. That win was Philly’s only win of the season without those two players on the court. Oddly, Philadelphia played Miami again in the Conference playoff semifinals, losing the series 4-2 despite having Harden and Embiid in their starting lineups. Just further proof that playing with your best players doesn’t always mean you’ll play your best basketball.
10. Warrior’s Poole via Curry
I think we don’t always have to go back in time to find a great example of teamwork. These past few weeks only show that the Warriors are not doomed once Stephen Curry is out of the picture. Since Christmas Day, Golden State started off with an inspiring 5 straight wins, only to lose to the Pistons last night. Either way, it was great to see Jordan Poole rise with 40-point performances for his team. Curry, 34, has rested his shoulder since injuring it until mid-December and is not expected to return before Jan. 13 against the San Antonio Spurs. “He will be examined and trained on the pitch this weekend. The two-week mark to rate him would be this weekend, but there haven’t been any setbacks or anything,” said Bob Myers, the team’s general manager yesterday.
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) December 31, 2022