The anxious background of these NBA playoffs.



These go Be anxious playoffs.

Naturally, there are tensions in high risk games, but there is another layer that may be exclusive this season. It is the pressure of the aftermath and it will accumulate day by day, due to the loss and, strangely, in this unusual season, even for the victory in some cases.

With so many contenders loaded with fragile free agents of repute and other concerns related to the uncertainty of their results, there is more at stake than just winning. There is also the future and, in these times, that is always in the mind.

This is widely applied in the Eastern Conference, where it is accentuated because it could be argued that any of the four best seeds could reach the NBA Finals. And they all have auxiliary problems that bubble below the surface.

Find everything you need to know about the first round of the playoffs here.
NBA playoffs mega-preview
Times, confrontations and more

The Toronto Raptors have lived all season with the cloud Kawhi Leonard on the horizon. Leonard has not articulated, well, almost nothing. But it certainly will not be the most important thing for him when he has the option to become a free agent this summer. But it's a sure bet that an early start would not bode well for the Raptors' chances of re-signing him, especially after they've changed coaches and reorganized the roster to try to bury the disappointments of the playoffs.

The Boston Celtics have been one of the most maddening teams in the league. In a few weeks they seem to have the firepower and the drive to beat anyone. Other times, its chemistry is absent.

They have lived in Kyrie Irving's yoyo for months. Even if you give him a pbad and cancel his promise to re-sign in October as an emotional expression while feeling festive at a fan event, his choice of doing a Nike commercial in which he announced the hope of increasing his number to Las Beams surely seemed safer. And it's not just his free agency, it's hot and cold support for his teammates and head coach that may have been even more difficult.

Boston has all the ingredients of a team that could reach the Finals, especially when the great Al Horford and Aron Baynes are healthy and Jayson Tatum finds a balance between grace and aggression. But if it's going south, it's possible that the Celtics may not only lose to Irving in July, but that they also be more judicious in a commercial offer expected for Anthony Davis in the summer. There is a wide range of possibilities here that are worth watching while the Celtics make their way into the playoffs.

The next free agency of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant has added another level of intrigue to the playoffs. Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

the The Milwaukee Bucks have the best record and their best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is under contract. But there are still chances of rain there. Even after extending Eric Bledsoe with a four-year contract last month, the Bucks have important free agents (Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Brook Lopez and Nikola Mirotic) to deal with.

Keeping this team of 60 victories together can depend on these playoffs. Core recovery would probably send the Bucks to the luxury tax next season and beyond. The Bucks have not paid the luxury tax since 2003, the season in which they changed Ray Allen for Gary Payton.

Is this team close enough to the title dispute to break that streak without taxes or will they adapt with cheaper options if there is an exit earlier than expected? And how could that crossroads affect Antetokounmpo, who can extend his contract if he wishes in 2020? These are issues that are being discussed absolutely within the organization as they begin their most promising postseason in decades.

The questions of free agency are so big for the Philadelphia 76ers. They made a series of exchanges to make a big turn this season. His big name from the top five has been impressive when they have played together, which has not been so often unfortunately. But three-fifths of those starters (Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick) are free agents and another, Ben Simmons, has an extension later this year.

Paying them at all the main market rates could cost the 76ers a sum close to $ 500 million. Can the property possibly support that kind of disbursement for a group that is not seriously in line to compete for a title? It's a big question and the answer can be revealed in the coming weeks. Frankly, he has to do it.

Once you take all that, consider that two of these Eastern teams will not even make it to the end of the conference. These full playoffs are a multi-level pressure cooker, ripe for anxiety.

Now breathe. That is only the east.

The two-time defending Golden State Warriors have two All-Stars aimed at free agency. However, because this is the postseason of nervousness, it's not as simple as winning again and everyone is happy, healthy and re-signing.

Kevin Durant has exuded unhappiness throughout the season for reasons that only he can understand, giving rise to the belief that he is playing his last days with the team. If two titles did not make him happy, will a third party only verify his pull towards a new challenge? Is this what the fans of the New York Knicks or whoever wants to dissolve the Warriors dynasty should uproot? Or maybe if the Warriors are somehow upset, will that disappointment keep Durant in his place when the redemption becomes a motivational draw?

If you can find Durant, send your resume to the Warriors and the Knicks, since they're probably interested in signing up for you. Either way, his career in the playoffs is carrying some extra baggage.

Then there are the Los Angeles Clippers, who managed to build an exciting and competitive team while discreetly planning to eviscerate their competition in the free agent market by chasing two megastars. They have already vastly improved their Q rating within the league on ownership of Steve Ballmer and have built an infrastructure that they hope will not only make them attractive to free agents, but more attractive than their historic older brother, Los Angeles Lakers. His stay in the playoffs will play some kind of role in what happens in July, even if it's just the threat of a disruption.

This weekend the games begin. But the game within the game for future control of the league is where the real action can be. Very little is clear, even for the people who have the most power in the situation.

With about a third of the league scheduled to be free agents, this has been a situation that has been developing for some time. There are many choppy waters between now and the resolution.


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Dwyane Wade pays his respects to his current teammates and Heat Nation before his final regular-season game in Miami.

DWYANE WADE WILL to be remembered for many things in Miami, from his intrepid style of play to his tremendous shooting block to the magical Finals of the NBA 2006 up to his participation in the community. But an underestimated aspect of his career that has been an endless gift to the Heat organization is his willingness to sacrifice.

Sometimes it has been money, yes. Wade took salary cuts twice to help the Heat build its list. Once in 2010 to put the role players around LeBron James and Chris Bosh. And again in 2014, after James left so the Heat could remain competitive by being aggressive in the free agent market. But there have been other ways that involved more than money.

In 2008, Pat Riley approached Wade with a plan to create space for the bonanza of free agents of 2010. This meant exchanging the team's second best player at that time, Shawn Marion, to better align his books to have cap space that summer.

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They had been building the team after a rebuild after the title and put the advance on hold by the mere hope that they could land the big shot. It was a request for Wade to give him a part of his best moment and, although he had already won a title, it was not an easy decision. Wade became impatient with the slow process and fought a bit with Riley, but finally said goodbye and was his wingmate on the landing of James and Bosh.

Then, once James was in the fold, it was Wade who came to his teammate in his second season together and encouraged him to take the reins and become the main creator of games. They tried to share the role, change shifts, and it did not work. The Heat did not become a super team until Wade, still at the peak of his powers, took a step back.

There were more moments in this regard. As in the 2008 Olympics, when Wade agreed to be a bench player to better balance the rotation of the US Team. UU., Unlocking a fierce lineup that took gold. Throughout this season, when he agreed to leave the bank on his farewell tour even though he probably had the juice to begin with.

Sacrifice is a large part of Wade's legacy. Staying in character is something that is barely mentioned.


There is a mini Lottery on Friday at the NBA Board of Governors with the participation of the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans. The three had 33-49 records, tied for the seventh worst. To determine the order of the draft for selections seven, eight and nine, there is a random draw, although all teams will have the same odds of winning the draw on May 14.

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The result has other implications. The Grizzlies will send their selection to the Celtics if they finish outside the top eight. If the Grizzlies "lose" the draw and fall to the number 9, they are likely to send their selection. If they "win" they are likely to keep it.

Memphis has indicated that he wants to send the selection to Boston this year because next season the selection is protected by the first 6 and then completely unprotected in 2021. With the Grizzlies firing their coach, restructuring their main office and even considering the plans for To exchange Michael Conley, you may be flirting with that top-6 pick next season.

Meanwhile, the Celtics would prefer not to be chosen this season. With three other first rounders including the The selection of the Sacramento Kings lottery, Boston would prefer to transfer the badet to the future.

On the other hand, if Memphis scores in the lottery draw and moves to the 4 best selections, all this is debatable and they stay with the selection. In that case, they're supposed to be happy to keep it.


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