NBA: Three Keys to Winning a Playoff Game


May 8, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) is pressured by Chicago Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler (21) during the first quarter in game two of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In the NBA, there are regular season games and playoff games. They may have the same rules and all, but in the playoffs, it all comes down to how well a certain player can shut the noise out and just play his basketball game. The regular season is obviously not as important as the playoffs, and the road to a championship. Still, the home crowd isn’t always a huge factor, which means there’s more than one key to winning a road game.

The Pacers won game one, the Bulls won game one, and the Grizzlies won game two. These are all road wins against some of the better  home teams in the NBA, and the home crowds were almost taken out of the picture entirely in these contests. The only team yet to win on the road in the first two games are the Golden State Warriors, but they lost in double overtime off a buzzer- beater. It wasn’t about how “hot” a team was, but it was about the perseverance and the keys.

With that being said, here are three keys to winning a playoff game, for any team, home or away.

1. Set Aside the Ego:

This is the most important thing for a player to do on the court. Yes, you may be paid millions per year to do what you love, but how many actually wants a championship? Just look at Carmelo Anthony, he has good reason to be arrogant, but has failed to get past the first round in quite some time. I’m not saying he’s arrogant, but he needs to find a way to continue to win.

In the NBA Finals last year, the Miami Heat crushed the Oklahoma City Thunder in the final game five. Mid-third quarter, when the Heat were dominating by at least 30 points, Mario Chalmers put his hands up to amp up his home crowd. Realizing how arrogant Chalmers was being, LeBron James promptly told him to stop, and the Heat went on to win the game without letting their egos get in the way. Down the stretch, if players want to win a playoff game, they’re going to have to be humble, and impress themselves.

2. Think About the Reward:

Wanting it badly is half the battle. Defense and making shots is important of course, but those two fall under this category. Some NBA players may think that they’re getting paid, so it doesn’t matter, but winning a championship is almost all the critics talk about, and you cannot tune them out forever. If the players think about how great the reward will be, they’ll start to play harder on defense and on offense, not worry about their game, and suddenly, tire and fatigue will be non-factors.

3. Tune Out all the Noise:

To LeBron’s credit, he tuned out ALL the noise. He tuned out Spike Lee in the first round, he tuned out Skip Bayless throughout the whole way, saying he was going to collapse in the finals like he always did, and he tuned out the media, the analysts, and the rest of the critics. Once he did that, he was able to play in the clutch time and hit game winners. He won the Finals MVP award in his third career trip to the NBA Finals.

In the NBA, getting tangled up with other players in the media makes a player feel more self conscious and turns the spot light on them. Brandon Jennings, for example, said he would beat the Heat in six, and while the Bucks had absolutely no chance, he was in the spot light. He didn’t play terribly, but didn’t exactly lead his team either.