NBA superstars feel the burn of playoff heat for different reasons.
Just 16 steps short of championship glory, the stakes couldn't be any higher. Except for the 10 players on this list—for them, the journey means even more.
The regular season builds names. It puts a face to a player, perhaps bringing with it some notable numbers, individual accolades or both.
The postseason is different. It creates icons.
Championships give historical context. There's only so high a stock can soar on a ringless hand. Players can still be celebrated without one, but not without an asterisk attached.
For most of the names on this list, the pressure to perform comes out of this realm. Some are building a legacy, others have yet to lay the foundation. In a league where titles talk, these stars are desperate to drive that discussion.
That's not the only source of this heat, though.
Some are looking to validate a breakout campaign with an elite-level effort on the biggest stage. One is fighting for his coach's job, while another is attempting to justify the highest luxury-tax bill in league history.
The cameras are on, the lights are at their brightest—it's go-big-or-go-home time for these 10 stars.