The good kind of desperation, not the Hawks-signing-Joe-Johnson-to-a-ridiculous-contract-in-a-desperate-attempt-to-stay-relevant kind.
With the exception of the Lakers, the Celtics and Heat have more on the line than any other team in the playoffs. There is no greater motivating factor.
Boston’s stars are looking at the end of their championship window. They may have another year left after this one, but cannot reasonably expect to compete at a championship level for much longer than that.
Within the Celtics locker room, there must be a feeling that this year represents their last, best chance to win another ring.
The stars of the Heat are on the other end of their window. Nonetheless, LeBron James has been here before and has felt the sting of key losses. He knows that his legacy will be meaningless without championships.
For both of these teams, the 2011 NBA playoffs are a key moment in their legacies. The sense of desperation they feel is not a bad thing, it merely means that they fully grasp the importance of this postseason in terms of careers and overall greatness to a greater extent than younger teams like the Thunder and Bulls, who have less at stake.
Simply, this means that the remaining playoff games mean more the Celtics and Heat than they do to other teams (except again, the Lakers). This cannot be underestimated.