When someone says that the NBA regular season and the NBA playoffs are two completely different beasts, they’re more or less describing the essence of the situation. In this article, we’ll take a look at the four ways NBA games change in the regular season compared to the playoffs.
Importance Of Home Games
As much as playing at home gives a big edge to the home team during the regular season, this is even more so during the playoffs. The advantage of the home team during the regular season typically revolves around playing in a comfortable setting and not having to travel. For teams like the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors, home court advantage is also amplified by the enthusiasm of their fans. However, during the playoffs, as a road team playing in someone else’s house, the crowds can be extremely hostile, which may affect the psyche of the players of the visiting team. Additionally, the fans may indirectly affect the calls from referees, with the referees being more likely to subtly favor the home team without even knowing it.
Since the NBA regular season is known to be a long and extreme grind, teams don’t usually go all out and give it their all in every single regular season game. Additionally, some players, especially veterans, are also known to have scheduled rest days where they’d sit out of a game. Furthermore, when a player has an injury, even though it might be minor, they’ll be very likely to sit out of a game. On the other hand, teams in the playoffs will often play with maximum intensity during every playoff game, especially if the team is an up-and-coming team with a lot to prove. For some teams, each game may very well be their last as underdogs, which will lead them to give it their all each and every game. Also, when it comes to injuries, players are much more likely to gut it out, even with a decently severe injury. Case in point – Kobe Bryant.
Game Slows Down
Compared to the regular season, playoff games tend to be slowed down to a half-court set. As a result, there are not as many chances for teams to get on the fast break and run with the ball. The game essentially boils down to a grind, where the defenses of teams are usually set in the half-court. With the game slowing down, this leads to less overall possessions for each team, which makes each possession all the more important. Additionally, as the game slows down, the defenses are also set, which makes it more difficult for teams to generate quality offenses.
While a superstar player is able to carry his team to wins during the regular season, this effect is usually heightened in the playoffs, where minutes are scarce and teams usually cut down on their rotation. What was a 10-man rotation during the regular season may easily be cut down to an eight-man rotation instead. As a result, superstar and star players will usually see their minutes climb to the low-40s, or even the mid- to high-40s if needed. Since these players are able to impact the game in so many different ways, the team with the better superstar player, or the team with multiple superstars will usually end up prevailing.