LeBron James cannot afford to lose this NBA Finals

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No can do. This time, there are no excuses. Kyrie is healthy. Kevin Love is playing good. Heck, JR Smith and Channing Frye are having the best stretch of their combined careers on this playoffs. The Cavs just had one of the easiest playoffs runs ever, steamrolling their way over a weak Eastern conference in just 14 games. Meanwhile, the Warriors had to dig and crawl their way back in a 7 game series against one of the most tiring teams to play against in OKC. The stars have never been so aligned for LeBron, not even when he was winning championships in Miami.

LeBron does not want to lose again in this Finals. A 2-for-7 record pretty much rules him out of any ‘greatest ever’ conversation from here out. Getting to the Finals 6 seasons in a row is an amazing feat, but losing time and time again when it matters most is certainly going to leave a dirty stain on his legacy.

But that’s not the biggest reason why LeBron has to win this Finals. The biggest reason just nailed 7 three pointers in game 7 of the Western conference finals in a ridiculous 3 game come back to meet LeBron in the Finals again. That reason is Steph Curry. The same Steph who beat LeBron in last year’s finals. Who just won back to back MVP. Who smashed every three point record there was. And who has also been closing the gap against LeBron off the court, in jersey sales, shoe deals, popularity and likeability. Already people have been saying that Steph has surpassed LeBron as the alpha dog in the NBA. Losing to him in consecutive finals would only make it official…LeBron is no longer the top dog in the league he’s owned for the past decade.

That said, LeBron clearly has a better shot at beating the Warriors this year than he did last year (which was zero). But he’ll have to play the best basketball of his life, which is really saying a tremendous lot. He’ll have to find a way to dominate the game on both ends, attacking the rim and making shots early to open up his teammates for easy shots. He’ll have to dominate the paint and force Draymond Green to focus all efforts solely on him. He’ll probably also have to be the guy to try and shut down Curry and Klay at different times on the other end of the floor. All that, and he’ll still have to pray that his teammates continue to play at a high level like they did early in the playoffs, and keep knocking down shots especially when he gets them open.

The stakes are higher than ever for LeBron, and he’ll have every motivation to prove to the world that he’s still the man to fear in the league.

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