There is no beating around the bush, tonight’s game is career-defining for LeBron James.
After seeing his team go down by a combined 41 points in the first two games of the 2017 NBA Finals, James is going to have to dig down deep and give his team another all-time performance if the Cavs want to get back in the series.
That is not to say LeBron has played poorly so far through the first two games, because he hasn’t. While playing nearly 80 minutes thus far in the Finals James is averaging 28.5 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists per game.
James cannot do it alone though, he needs his teammates to step up in the worst way. Outside of Kevin Love the rest of the Cavaliers have failed to show up on the biggest stage. They say role players play better at home, if the Cavs want to compete with the powerhouse Warriors, the role players like Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert will need to rise to the occasion.
However, it does not matter how well James plays in these Finals, he will still get the majority of the blame and the naysayers will be out in full force. If James is to take the title of “greatest basketball player of all-time” away from Jordan, losing this series against the Warriors is not an option.
In the past when James’ legacy has been on the line, he has usually responded with some of his best performances. Just look back to last year, when the Cavs were facing a 3-1 deficit to the Warriors. James went on an historic three game run to win his third championship and the first title in Cavaliers history.
Then there was 2012 when James quieted the entire city of Boston with a 45 point, 15 rebound performance that left his fans and more importantly his doubters in absolute awe. That game would eventually lead the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals, where James would capture his first NBA championship.
So here James sits, once again, at a crossroad in his career and more importantly, his legacy. A win tonight at least temporarily silences the critics and as we have seen before, one massive performance by the king can turn an entire series around. James appears to be locked in, more so than ever before, but to get past arguably one of the best teams in NBA history he will need to show up in a way we have never seen before.