After all of the decisions, all of the media hype, and all of the backlash to both, all that stands between LeBron James and his first NBA championship is one more victory.
And despite James and the Miami Heat being up 3-1 in the NBA finals, he plans on playing Thursday's game as if one more loss will end his chances of earning that title.
"We're coming in with that Game 7 mentality," James told ESPN after Thursday's shootaround. "We understand that there's no tomorrow, we have that mindset right now. We're preparing for (Game 5) as if it's our last game."
If James plays similar to the way he has in the previous four contests, it may be Miami's final game of the season. He is averaging a double-double (29.2 ppg, 10 rpg) in the series, giving the Oklahoma City Thunder headaches on the defensive end of the floor.
As the Heat try to psyche themselves into a back-against-the-wall mentality, it's the Thunder who are peering over the edge of the cliff. Despite the series deficit, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder feel confident heading into Thursday, knowing they have already come back from a deep hole once this postseason.
"I'm not going to give up," Durant told the Miami Herald Thursday. "I've been down 0-2 against San Antonio, and everybody said it was over then and we won."
If the Thunder are to mount a comeback, they are going to need better play from James Harden. The NBA's Sixth Man of the Year has been woeful in the finals, averaging only 10.7 ppg—shooting just 2-of-10 in each the previous two games.
"I'm getting very good shots," Harden told the Herald. "They're just not falling. A couple of my threes rattled in and out."
The Thunder have only lost three games in a row once all season before Tuesday, but never let a losing streak reach four.
"You know, this group of guys never give up, regardless of what happens," said Westbrook, who scored 43 points in Game 4. "We've been through many different situations throughout this playoffs. Just another task for us. We've just got to be ready to play for the next game."
If LeBron James has anything to do with it, Westbrook and the Thunder will never get that chance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.