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One Moment at a Time

How do you win a seven-game series?

The obvious answer, of course, is to win four games before your opponent does.

But doing that is tricky. Winning a playoff series is a psychological minefield in which each team must fight the temptation to put the math ahead of the moment.

“It’s all about staying in the moment, and concentrating on the task at hand,” said Tony Jones, a championship-winning basketball coach in Montclair, N.J., who studies the mind-body connection.

In watching an NBA playoff series, Jones can actually see moments where players are so distracted by playoff math that they neglect to do what they know how to do.

Meanwhile, in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Washington Capitals have already come back from a 3-1 series deficit. And the Boston Bruins are one victory from doing the same.

Hockey experts say that the most difficult lead to defend is the two-goal edge. That’s because a two-goal lead gives the ILLUSION of being enough. When you’re ahead or behind by only one goal, no one needs to remind you that you’re in a tight game. But when you lead by two goals, your biggest job is to fight any thought of relaxing.

Whether it’s basketball, hockey, or any other sport, the challenge is to forget the score and to do the things necessary to AFFECT the score.

So how do you win a seven-game series?

You win it a moment at a time.


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