The 2015 NBA Playoffs are in full swing. For teams that hope to play deep into the month of June, the post-season can feel like an entirely new season, tacked onto the 82 regular season games they already played. For that reason, off-season training and conditioning, as well as in-season workouts, play a huge part in ensuring players don't fatigue during the most important time of the year. Here are some of the top players in the 2015 Playoffs who understand the importance of getting their bodies right and ready for the NBA's second season.
We got a glimpse back in September of the preparation LeBron James was putting in for one of the most hyped seasons of his career. He was going through an intense conditioning drill in which he received an outlet pass, made a dunk or layup, then sprinted to the other end of the court to do the same thing.
At 30 years of age, James is no spring chicken. But drills like this allow him to continue to play at an incredibly high level.
Despite as many injuries to a talented roster as some teams experience over five years, the Portland Trail Blazers were able to secure the fifth seed in an absolutely loaded Western Conference. Much of their success was due to point guard Damian Lillard, who announced his presence in last year's post-season by draining a game winning 3-pointer to personally knock the Houston Rockets out of the first round.
Lillard's work on his core stability and balance—using exercises like the Stability Ball Circuit, Med Ball Throws and Single-Leg Dumbbell Combos—has allowed the young point guard to improve his body control and stay balanced when pulling up for contested 3-pointers, which have become one of the best parts of his game.
Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli
The Golden State Warriors not only posted the best record in the NBA this season, they also led the league in pace. The Warriors averaged 100.7 possessions per game, meaning they get up and down the court like lightening. Watching Steph Curry and Klay Thompson bomb away from deep and throw alley-oops to Andrew Bogut can be exhilarating, as it must be for the players who treat the hardwood like a race track.
The Warriors are in great shape thanks to some out of the ordinary conditioning trills, like running up a winding parking garage near their practice facility. The team then visits the gym for a workout, including a warm-up on a stationary bike prior to performing exercises like Pull-Ups, Chest Rows and Push-Ups. They then hit the court for a scrimmage, pushing their stamina as far as possible before they hit the recovery room for ice baths and the like.
DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin
It's a crucial year for the Los Angeles Clippers and their core of DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Having been together now for three seasons without an NBA Finals appearance, the Clips know their championship window is closing quickly in a stacked Western Conference. Perhaps that's why Griffin and Jordan trained together this off-season. We already knew how much importance Griffin places on his core, and we see it here front and center as he and Jordan use yoga balls against a wall to work on their stability and balance. The two then perform Squats with resistance bands while mimicking movements their upper body and arms make when on the court.
Check out Griffin using a resistance band while his trainer gives him a ball so he can simulate pulling down a rebound and securing it from defenders.
Paul Milsap has been an integral part of the basketball revolution taking place in Atlanta and a big reason why the Hawks nabbed the number 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference. On a team that thrives on sharing the basketball, Milsap has thrived, averaging 16.7 points per game while pulling down 7.8 rebounds. Much of his success can be attributed to his dedication to the weight room this past off-season. Using moves like the Med Ball Toss, Hang Clean, Pull-Ups and sideboard work, Milsap has not only strengthened his legs and core but improved his footwork and body control on the court.
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