May 14 2013 9:12AM

The Defenders Of The Postseason


Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

I love The Defenders more than The Avengers.

I marvel at them.

The giants who do the NBA's dirty work.

Shut down entertaining offenses.

Make superstars inefficient.

Muck up a beautiful game, all in the name of winning basketball for their teams.

When the NBA All-Defense awards annually come out--as it did Monday--I cannot wait to see who the league honors, much like I could not wait to see the Justice League cartoons of my favorite superheroes as a boy.

Yes! They named my favorite hero Tim Duncan to his 14th All-D squad. An NBA record. It's only fitting since I have never seen a better defensive player in the league in all my 46 years of living (full disclosure: I have no TV-viewing memories of Bill Russell, who retired when I was 2).

Yes! They honored the Grit-&-Grind trio of Tony Allen, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, whose Hustle-&-Flow led the Memphis Grizzlies to the NBA's second-best defense this season.

Yes! They made LeBron James, Serge Ibaka, Joakim Noah, Tyson Chandler and Paul George official All-D picks. Five elite defenders--like the aforementioned four--who are still playing in the Elite Eight round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

Do you hear what I am saying?

Nine of the 11 official All-Defensive picks are still defending their teams' honor in the postseason (the league gave out 11 awards instead of 10 because of a tie in the voting).

Yes, indeed. We are well into the 21st Century and defense still rules!

The only All-D choices who are watching these playoffs at home are Chris Paul and Avery Bradley--both deserving picks--who both played in the first round of the 2013 playoffs.

I love the fact that the top seven defenses all had at least one player on the All-Defense squad, with the only outliers being Paul, who played for the No. 9 Clippers, and Chandler, who plays for the No. 16 Knicks.

I love the fact that seven players on my ballot were honored.

And I love the fact that every game I watch in the second round henceforth will feature at least one All-Defense award-winner. And in the case of the Memphis-Oklahoma City series, there will be four.

That is why The Defenders are my favorite superheroes.

They are the men who wear the mask.

The men who don't always get credit for impacting the game the way they do.

The men who fight crime and save cities' postseason hopes.

Give me a team of All-Defense defenders, and I will beat a team of All-Stars or even a team of All-NBA players every time.

Yeah, I said it.

If you give me The Defenders who are likely to make the All-NBA squad--LeBron James, Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, Marc Gasol and Paul George--in addition to the rest of the 2012-13 All-Defense squad, I will beat your team of Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker.

I will beat them in a seven-game series every time.

I am sure of it.

That is why I love my superheroes, The Defenders.

All they do is win, while defending the game's honor.