NBA Playoffs Round Two: The Stars, and the Training That Got Them There
Round two of the 2014 NBA Playoffs is underway, showcasing veteran stars like Kevin Durant and LeBron James and newcomers like Damian Lillard and John Wall. There's enough talent in the second round to fill out multiple all-star rosters. But it's these players' work off the court, in the weight room and with trainers, that has pushed them deeper into the post-season.
Most first-round match-ups went at least six games (aside from Bulls-Wizards), but the Miami Heat steamrolled the Charlotte Bobcats in a clean four-game sweep. LeBron James was magnificent, as usual, and not just in the scoring category. He averaged six assists per game and dropped nine dimes in the series-clinching Game 4 victory. James has always been a gifted passer, and his almost bionic court vision is a huge reason why the Heat are favored to win their third-straight NBA championship. In 2009, LeBron let STACK in on his passing strategy. Check it out above.
LeBron's teammate has made a living slashing to the hole over much of his career, even as injuries have tried to slow him down. Wade's dedication to the Alternate Explosive Leg Press, which forces him to rapidly fire both legs as fast as possible for a specified period of time, has kept his legs as fresh as possible as his team streaks deeper into the playoffs.
If you can believe it, there was a time in Roy Hibbert's life when he couldn't complete a single Push-Up. Now, the 7-foot anchor of Indiana's stout defense can deadlift 540 pounds. After a surprisingly tough first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, the Pacers are continuing on toward their ultimate goal: dethroning the Miami Heat in the East and getting to the NBA Finals. If he can escape his doldrums, Hibbert will be a huge part of that. Check out how MMA and exercises like Med Ball Stability Holds made Hibbert into a force on the block.
In his fifth year in the league, John Wall has finally become the point guard everyone thought he would be. The Wizards made a statement during the first round, taking the first two games of the series against the feisty Chicago Bulls on the road before finishing them off in five. Wall was electric, darting to the rim in a blur and finishing strong over bigger defenders—a tribute to the serious work he has put in on his upper body. Check out Wall's Band Circuit to see how he conditioned his body for the rigors of the post-season.
He's only been in the league two short seasons, but Damian Lillard can already add "playoff game-winner" to his résumé. His deep 3-point splashdown at the buzzer to eliminate the Houston Rockets from the playoffs in Game 6 was cold blooded, which Lillard has been all season. His dedication to training has been shown not only in his play, but in his stamina on the court. Take a look at how the budding star has taken his game to the next level.
Another year, another trip to the NBA Playoffs for KD. Fresh off his best season ever, Durant exploded for 33 points in Game 7 against the pesky Memphis Grizzlies, propelling the Oklahoma City Thunder to a high-profile second-round match-up against the Los Angeles Clippers. In 2009, STACK got a look at how the odds-on favorite for MVP turned his lean frame into a body that can handle the physicality of his smooth drives to the rim.
Chris Paul is on a mission. His Los Angeles Clippers team is loaded, and the nine-year veteran, as good as he is, has never sniffed the NBA Finals. Something tells us that could change after we watched him go ballistic against OKC in Game 1 of their second-round playoff match-up. Paul dropped 33 points with a variety of 3-pointers, floaters and hard drives into the lane, something his strong core allows him to do with ease. Find out how he built himself into a point guard bowling ball with tools such as the stability pad.
Along with Paul, Clippers teammate Blake Griffin counts his core as one of the most important contributors to his athletic ability. For a guy who spends most of his time doing damage directly below (and high above) the rim, absorbing major contact on almost every play, Griffin has to be an immovable object in the paint. Read how work in the pool and Push-Ups on a med ball led Griffin to his best season yet.
As the elder statesman of the NBA, the player known affectionally as KG is looking for one more NBA title before he retires. His body may be older, but Garnett has consistently been one of the most fit players in the NBA during the almost two decades he's patrolled the hardwood. Check out the workout routine that has kept one of the best big men ever on the court for 18 years.