"Now or never."
That's what LeBron tweeted in the middle of the night last night, and he's only partly right.
Tonight's Game 5 is a must-win for the Mavs -- if they lose, they would have to win two straight in Miami, an unlikely scenario.
If the Heat lose tonight, they still get two games at home -- entirely winnable. And so tonight is not must-win for the Heat.
Is it even must-play-well for LeBron? Again: Partly.
Would playing well get the media off his back? Only if the Heat win. And, even then, only if the Heat subsequently win the title.
Here's the reality: If the Heat don't win the title, it won't matter how well LeBron plays in Games 5, 6 and 7*, because he sealed the narrative in the 4th quarter of Game 4.
Conversely, if the Heat in the title, no one will remember Game 4. Oh, sure, there will be discussion of Wade's MVP performance. But the Heat don't win a ring without LeBron. And once LeBron has his ring, no matter how he gets it, that removes much of any lingering stigma.
And so "Now or never" is the right thing for him to say. It is an interesting thing for him to say. But the case can be made that tonight's game -- "now" -- isn't as important as Sunday or Tuesday.
PS: For what it's worth, I think LeBron will shoot more and score more -- that is what his critics are asking for, right? -- but that doesn't mean the Heat will be in a better position to win. As it has been since the Boston series, LeBron's defense and facilitating are more important than his shot and scoring totals.
After 4 games, I am befuddled as to make a prediction on the game's outcome. Let's just root for an ending as entertaining as the previous four games. In a bit of a technocratic view, I'd like to see the Mavs win, if only because it presents the clearest path to a toss-up Game 7, which is in the best interests of everyone not a Heat or Mavs fan, while still preserving the "Heat don't win the title meme" for the vast majority of us who would like that result.