The NBA is no longer defined by a test of wills where machismo and brawn decide the games, but a feeling that strategy and team play are always going to be more important than mano y mano competition.

Defensive strategies and schemes have become far more sophisticated under new league rules. Because of everything you can do with loading up the strong side to take away good isolation possessions or have the weak side ready to pounce at the drop of a headband, the idea of "Hero Ball" has become a fool's possession, especially in big moments.

The Golden State Warriors are the standard for the new NBA, yet the defending champs weren't able to execute their read-and-react motion offense to win a second title. Their offense was stifled, smothered and turned into inconsistency during the NBA Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers proved that while the Warriors' system is beautiful and hard to deny, it's possible if you commit to the ball denial off the ball and intense effort on the ball to ruin the offensive rhythm.

Instead, it was the Cavs, often chastised for not playing enough team basketball or having the right team chemistry, who were able to come through playing what was supposed to be a style of basketball no longer capable of yielding efficient enough results for ultimate victory. Despite LeBron James' brilliance in directing the team, the Cavs were lacking the cohesiveness you'd find when championship teams get pushed to the point of no margin for error. Kevin Love wasn't producing. J.R. Smith wasn't trustworthy. Kyrie Irving wasn't enough of a team guy.

In the postseason, only the Memphis Grizzlies (in their four painful games) ran a higher percentage of isolation sets than the Cavs did. When combining the regular season with the postseason, only the Clippers, Lakers, Knicks, and Rockets ran a higher frequency of isolation possessions than the Cavs, and three of those teams were never taken seriously as championship contenders this season. The other team was the Clippers, who have often been viewed as flawed in their approach.

To peg Cleveland as just an isolation team would be unfair. They adopted a level of team basketball that became the standard of excellence in the Eastern Conference, even if it wasn't supposed to translate against the elite of the West. In the postseason, they became a 3-point shooting supernova. Heading into the Finals, they were on pace to have the most prolific 3-point shooting postseason in NBA history, both in volume of 3-pointers made and accuracy.

Against the Warriors, they didn't abandon the 3-point shot, but it no longer became a viable option for leading their offense. They went from shooting 43.4 percent (on 33 attempts per game) against the East in the playoffs to shooting 32.9 percent (on 24 attempts per game) against the Warriors in the Finals. It was a dramatic drop-off against one of the best defenses in the NBA against the deep ball. Instead of continuing to try to chuck and move the ball around against one of the top defenses in the NBA, they looked to exploit specific match-ups in a more isolation heavy attack.

Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it made them look like they didn't know what they were doing. The Cavs dropped from 42 potential assists per game in the first three rounds of the playoffs to just 31 potential assists per game in the Finals. Hero mode was activated and that was almost a laughable style of play to employ on the brightest of stages.

While we saw battles of arrogance dancing through the minds of the Cavaliers, they saw calculated risks. They saw an adaptability to the situation that could damage what the Warriors were trying to do. The Warriors had to be concerned about help whenever Irving or James were isolating against their matchups, even if their matchup was an incredible individual defender. With today's rules and lack of hand-checking, even the best one-on-one defenders are going to get cooked on the court in isolation. You have to bring help over.

When you bring help over against the Cavs, it leaves Tristan Thompson or James or Love (in Game 7) to keep the offensive boards alive. It kept possessions going. It kept scoring opportunities possible. And the Cavs were great at exploiting those situations. They didn't overwhelm the Warriors with it, but they capitalized in key moments.

In the fourth quarter of Game 5, we saw James and Irving put a relatively close contest away with Hero Ball. In the fourth quarter of Game 7, the Cavs tried to exploit these isolation match-ups by forcing switches they knew the Warriors were willing to make. If the Warriors thought everybody on their team could defend any situation, the Cavs were going to make them prove it.

James got a switch to put Festus Ezeli on him and drew a foul on a 3-point shot down four points. He hit all three free throws. On the next possession, James forced the same switch and rose up for a 3-pointer over Ezeli in a quick battle of isolation excellence. Ezeli didn't foul but James didn't miss. Defending the best player in the series with a backup center didn't get the job done.

Then with less than a minute to go and a tie game, Irving forced a switch to get Stephen Curry defending him. He gave him a couple of halfhearted dribble moves before side-stepping and firing up a 3-pointer in the unanimous MVP's face. It was Hero Ball in every way. Just like his big brother figure James was doing to carry Cleveland to a title. Just like Kyrie was so often chided for doing instead of making another pass. Just like we've been railing against for years as we try to unlock the secrets of the game.

Ironically, for years James has been measured against future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant. And in the year, Bryant retired from his historic NBA career, it was James and his team ending the historic 73-win season after being down 3-1 in the series with the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history. It was done with the same style and sensibilities that left James open to criticisms about his way of leading a team through attempted acts of heroics, rather than trying to make the right play. James has often been on the other end of that spectrum, being chastised for passing too much and not taking on the biggest chance of glory.

Bryant's level of clutch that James had statistically bested but never had the folklore to live up to finally could be seen in LeBron demolishing the ultimate team with three unreal performances as his team's backs were against the wall. He did it by marrying the perfect balance between getting others involved and showing he was the best scorer on the floor.

It wasn't an attack on the sensibilities of a quality offense. It was adapting to the situation at hand and recognizing where your team best fit in paradigm of what a successful offense could be. Hero Ball doesn't work for everybody because it's hard. Even with today's rules, it's hard to pull off enough quality shots to find yourself in the win column. But when your supreme talent and skill set benefit these series of mini match-ups, not utilizing this tactic while also disrupting the ideal offense on the other end turns it into a fascinating juxtaposition of what we think we know about offense.

Hero Ball doesn't always work, but it works when you have heroes. The 2016 NBA champs have heroes.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were heroic in this comeback. USATSI