Champ's 2016 Playoff Blog: "Youth Movement"

James Jones, the Wine and Gold’s sharpshooting reserve has played in 130 postseason games over the course of his 12-year career – winning a pair of NBA titles among his five straight trips to the NBA Finals.

As the Cavaliers try to make it six straight appearances for both Jones – (and the man who called him “my favorite player of all-time,” LeBron James) – Cavs.com asked the savvy vet to share his thoughts throughout this season’s Playoff run …

Everyone handles the postseason differently; there’s no set way to approach it.

Some guys will try to lock in and focus more deeply. During the regular season, you play 82 games and I think sometimes guys have the tendency to shortcut their daily routine and just try to get themselves prepared for the Playoffs – when you have a day or two in between and can really zero in on your opponent.

It’s difficult to get a true, deep rhythm for all 82 games, so I think some guys switch up their routines. But I try to stay consistent.

What you’re seeing with our team this year is the true value of playoff experience – specifically guys like Kyrie, Kevin, Tristan and Delly – from Year 1 to Year 2. That’s where you make your biggest jump as a pro.

You re-think in the whole process, the whole preparation – as far as focus on the details, understanding the significance of every possession and understanding what coaches are looking to do. You learn about how the rotation gets tightened and minutes are streamlined.

But most importantly, you learn to deal with the atmosphere. You have to get accustomed to the atmosphere where every possession has so much more meaning and the crowd responds with a different level of anxiety. So, it’s a challenge for young players making their first trip. But it gets better with time.

If there’s one recurring theme in the Playoffs, it’s the importance of possessions. It’s like a broken record, but it’s something younger players have to etch in their minds.

And as you get older you begin to understand: the longer you play, the more you’re in the postseason, the more you understand that this is a privilege -- and these moments can be fleeting. And you place more value on everything.

These younger guys, as they start to see how these games play out and see that a single possession can change an entire game and, often, and entire series, they start to realize that every possession is critical. And you don’t take any possession for granted because you can’t take the Playoffs for granted.

The best advice I was given and give to younger guys is very simple: Just be a pro.

Understand that you play the game to win and that your job is to be the best prepared that you can possibly be. That means you have to put distractions aside; you have to lock in and focus and make this your singular priority. For these two months, just give yourself to the process of preparing to win playoff games. If you do that, you’ll find yourself learning what it takes to win.

In the Playoffs, you’re either the hunter or the hunted. It’s all a mentality.

When you’re the hunted, your opponent – players, coaches, organizations – are looking at you as an opportunity, a stepping stone.

A lot of players make their mark, even make their careers on knocking off the top teams. It’s how a lot of coaches save their jobs. That’s the reality.

When you’re the hunter, it’s the opposite. You’re trying to stake your claim and make a mark. You’re trying to preserve your spot at the top. Individually, you’re trying to make sure the team doesn’t blow it up and search for other ways to reach a higher level.

That’s just the reality of being the hunted vs. being the hunter. I hate to say that it’s “kill or be killed,” but that’s how it’s described in the animal kingdom.

Me, I actually prefer being the hunted – right where the Cavaliers are at this stage of the Playoffs. Because it requires a bit of self-motivation and a challenge from within to resist the challenge from someone else.

Being the hunter is easy. You just look at who’s above you and you try to chase them. When you’re the hunted, you don’t look back to see who’s coming up. You look forward to distancing yourself from the competition.