The Difference Between Regular-Season LeBron and Postseason LeBron James
Both on the court and off, LeBron James approaches the game differently during the playoffs.
Off the court, for example, James has logged off Twitter and turned off his cell phone for the second consecutive year.
The only commentary he appears to be paying attention to directly relates to his Miami Heat teammates and their postseason opponent.
On the court, he is still the all-around player he's always been during the regular season, but James is more of a rebounder during the playoffs while also increasing his scoring output when needed.
After cashing in on his first championship during the 2012 playoffs, James also appears more confident than ever before in his postseason ability.
@KingJames Logs off Twitter During Postseason
As the lights and cameras of the 2013 postseason turned on, LeBron James logged off his Twitter account to focus more on the task at hand.
Zero Dark Thirty-6 Activated! I'm gone— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 21, 2013
The Twittersphere hasn't heard from James since, either. Prior to that final tweet, he had been posting regularly throughout the season, with three updates on April 13, for example, and two on April 17.
Last year, James also gave up Twitter during the playoffs, on his way to winning his first NBA championship and Finals MVP.
LeBron Turns off Cell Phone During Playoffs
The only way to contact LeBron James during the postseason is by stepping into the Miami Heat locker room.
Just like he did in 2012, James has turned off his cell phone again during the playoffs, according to Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida:
Sideline reporter Craig Sager interviewed James for NBA TV following Tuesday’s Game 2 against Milwaukee. He asked James about cutting off communication during the playoffs.
“I can use yours?’’ James asked Sager, who said he could borrow his phone. “So there it is, I’ll use yours. ... I’m back before cell phones were invented.’’
It’s the second straight year James has turned off his phone during the playoffs. It worked last season, as James won his first NBA title.
The article went on to note that when people need to reach James during the playoffs—like his former high school coach, Keith Dambrot, did last year—the text messages are sent to LeBron's trainer, Mike Mancias, or personal assistant Randy Mims, who then speak to James directly.
James Has Traditionally Increased Scoring in Postseason
The Miami Heat have needed only nine games to qualify for the Eastern Conference Finals.
Their eight wins have been decided by an average of 16.5 points, and LeBron James has been able to log less than 40 minutes in four of those games.
Traditionally, however, James has increased his scoring output during the postseason when called upon.
For his career, the 28.2 points that James averages during the playoffs are more than the 27.6 he averages in the regular season.
During the 2008-09 campaign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, for example, he scored 28.4 points during the regular season before improving that number to 35.3 in the playoffs.
Last year, on his way to winning his first title, James averaged 30.3 points in the postseason after scoring 27.1 in the regular season.
After averaging 26.8 during the 2012-13 campaign, he is currently scoring 24.0 points through nine playoff games.
As the competition increases, starting with the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, expect that scoring average to rise for James as well.
LeBron Does More Work on the Boards During the Playoffs
LeBron James is more active on the glass during the postseason.
In the 2012-13 campaign, for example, James averaged a career-high 8.0 rebounds. In 124 playoff games for his career, however, James averages 8.6 rebounds.
Heading into the 2013 playoffs, James had averaged more than his regular-season career high of eight boards during six of his seven playoff appearances.
The only time he averaged less was while collecting 7.8 rebounds in the 2008 playoffs.
Through nine games, James is at 7.3 boards after collecting 9.7 during his title run a year ago.
LeBron Takes Comments in Media More Personally During Playoffs
Dating back to his war of words with DeShawn Stevenson during the Cleveland Cavaliers' series with the Washington Wizards in 2008, LeBron James has a history of taking things opponents say via the media personally during the playoffs.
But whether it's in an attempt to manufacture motivational material for his team's bulletin board or if he is actually upset by these comments, LeBron has appeared offended.
After Frank Vogel said that he plans to prepare his Indiana Pacers for the Miami Heat as if they are just another team, for example, LeBron offered the following response to Michael Wallace of ESPN.com:
We're not just another team. I don't understand what he's saying. But we're not just another team. That's not true. He said we're just another team in their way. We're a great team. If we're just another team, you really don't prepare for just another team. You have to prepare for us.
This is quite a distinct change from the daps and hugs we see from James on loop during the regular season.
James Is No Longer Afraid of Coming Up Short in Postseason
After LeBron James led his Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007, anything less than winning a championship was deemed unacceptable.
For a number of reasons, James failed to meet those championship expectations over his next four trips to the playoffs.
At times, during those postseason runs from 2008-11, it appeared the pressure of never having won an NBA title weighed on LeBron and affected his game.
The weight of that pressure was never more apparent than it was during the 2011 NBA Finals that James and the Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks.
After finally breaking through and winning the title in 2012, however, James is now playing with more focus on the task at hand than he ever has before in the postseason.
He's no longer looking over his shoulder and considering the possibility of failure, which will, in turn, make him more impossible to stop than ever.