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The anxious undercurrent of these NBA playoffs

There are stresses within the high-stakes games naturally, but there’s also another layer that is perhaps unique to this season. It’s the pressure of the aftermath and it will mount by the day, by the loss and, oddly in this unusual season, even by the win in some cases.

With so many contenders loaded with fragile, big-name free agents and other concerns that are tied to the uncertainty of their finishes, there is more at stake than just winning. There’s also the future and, in these times, that’s always on the mind.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

This applies across the board in the Eastern Conference, where it’s accentuated because you could make a legitimate case that any of the top four seeds could/should reach the NBA Finals. And all of them have ancillary issues that bubble under the surface.5

The Toronto Raptors have lived all season with the Kawhi Leonard cloud on the horizon. Leonard hasn’t articulated, well, almost anything. Certainly not what will be most important to him when he has the option to become a free agent this summer. But it’s a safe bet that an early exit would not bode well for the Raptors’ chances at re-signing him, especially after they changed coaches and retooled the roster to try to bury past playoff disappointments.

The Boston Celtics have been one of the most maddening teams in the league. In some weeks they appear to have the firepower and togetherness to beat anyone. Other times, their chemistry is absent.

They have lived on Kyrie Irving’s yo-yo for months. Even if you give him a pass and write off his promise to re-sign in October as an emotional utterance while in a festive mood at a fan event, his choice to make a Nike commercial in which he announced a hope to raise his number to the rafters sure seemed more secure. And it isn’t just his free agency, it’s the hot and cold support for his teammates and head coach that have been perhaps even more trying.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Boston has all the ingredients of a team that could make the Finals, especially when bigs Al Horford and Aron Baynes are healthy and Jayson Tatum finds a balance between grace and aggression. But if it goes south, it’s possible the Celtics could not only lose Irving in July but also be more judicious in an expected trade offer for Anthony Davis in the summer. There’s a wide swing of possibilities here that bears watching as the Celtics make their way through the playoffs.