LeBron James has made it known that he came to South Beach for one reason - to win an NBA title. If he and his Miami Heat can't get up for two more games, that dream will be deferred for at least one more season.
James and the Heat are preparing to host Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in must-win Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals at 9 p.m. EDT on Sunday Night at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida (TV/Radio: ABC/WEEI).
"I think the game of basketball can be pressure," James said. "It doesn't matter if it's the finals or the conference finals or first round. Playoff basketball is all about pressure, how you can handle it." (via WEEI)
Miami held serve in the first game of the series, defeating the Mavericks, 92-84, at home. However, the Mavs stole Game 2 in enemy territory, escaping with a 95-93 win in Miami.
Dallas continued its strong play, winning two of its three home games - 86-83 in Game 4 and 112-103 in Game 5. The Mavericks' only home loss came in Game 3, with James and company pulling out an 88-86 victory.
James has had a sub-par series, averaging 17.2 points through five game. While James' numbers aren't horrendous, they are far off base from what fans have come to expect from the league's biggest superstar.
"That's just a part of the game if you're the star or the face of the franchise," Nowitzki said Saturday. "If you win, it's great for you, and everybody looks at you. And if you lose, you're going to get hammered. It's just part of the business. I think we understand that, we've been around long enough. I got the hammered the last 13 years, basically. So hopefully this year I can make the hammering go away for a year."
Nowitzki has been a consistent producer for the Mavericks in the Finals, averaging 27 points in five games. If Nowitzki can give his team one more solid game this season, the Mavericks may be in possession of their first NBA championship banner.
"We're one win away from my dream, what I've worked on for half my life," Nowitzki said. "This is really all I'm worried about, this is all I'm focusing on, and not really the off-the-court stuff that happened."