Web Editorial Associate
There’s a certain type of play that you see from winning teams in the NBA playoffs. They’re intense but in control, aggressive yet focused, physical but calculated. No matter who you’re playing, those traits are a recipe for success.
Facing the first game of what should be an intense series on the road, it’s going to be very important for the Wolves to come out tonight prepared to play from the opening tip. There is not enough room for error to spot the Rockets a few early baskets, or for the Wolves to take their time getting their intensity up. Jeff Teague, who has never missed the playoffs since being drafted in 2009, knows this well:
“You got to be aggressive and try to make plays, not get caught back on our heels,” he said. “They’re an explosive offensive team, we all know that. So us being aggressive and trying to get after them would be good.”
But while the Wolves must play aggressively, they can’t throw their offensive and defensive principles out the window when they take the court.
“In the playoffs, the good teams focus on the game plan and adjust throughout the game,” said Taj Gibson, another experienced postseason veteran. “When they adjust they make the proper adjustments and change the game. The attitude throughout all four quarters is totally intense, and one play can change the game and change that one player’s career.”
In the playoffs, players need to rely on their heads, and remember everything they’ve worked on and strategized about, while also simply outworking the other team—no matter their talent level.
“They gotta put their jerseys on the same you put yours on. Give 110% the way you do,” said Gibson. “Anything can happen, but it all comes down to game planning and players understanding and zeroing in.”
To win in the postseason, you have to be knowledgeable, flexible and confident—you also need to want it more. Wolves fans have no cause for concern on that front.
“We’re not satisfied at all,” said Jamal Crawford. “The regular season’s over with, everybody starts zero-zero, and we’re excited to get out there.”