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James Harden, Chris Paul the reason Mike D’Antoni believes in iso-ball

Mike D’Antoni has been a life-long believer of making the most of his players and revolving a system around their skill sets.

This is why after several years of exploiting a venomous pick-and-roll game between Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire, he ultimately switched to an iso-heavy game plan revolving around James Harden, and now his new All-Star teammate Chris Paul.

“If the best that we have is an iso, or if my personnel on my team dictates that that is really good, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Mike D’Antoni told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon late in the regular season. “I’ve had trouble in the past because really good players weren’t real efficient [on isos]. They weren’t real efficient, so I’m looking at the numbers and going, ‘Somehow the efficiency has got to go up.'”

“Before, we never really wanted to go one-on-one until we had to. With James and Chris, why not? It’d be stupid not to because it yields more points than other stuff.”

D’Antoni has been able to become married to this style thanks to the playmaking skills from both of his guards, as Chris Paul and James Harden are able to use isolation to break down defenses and pass out of double teams or collapsing a cluster of defenders.

The strategy was effective in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, but was ultimately futile in Games 1 and 3. Now only time will tell if tinkering with an iso-based offense can prove enough to dethrone the champions and make GM Daryl Morey’s dreams come true once and for all.