Heat Vs. Mavericks, Game 5: LeBron James Carries Weight Of NBA Finals On His Back

There is absolutely no question that Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ABC) will be the most anticipated game of LeBron James' career to date. For years LeBron has driven debates about his very soul; after a Game 4 collapse that saw the two-time MVP score just eight points, the rain came down on James. Hard. With the series between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks knotted at 2-2, everyone wants to know whether James will bounce back and deliver the type of performance we all know him to be capable of.

If he does, and the Heat win, Miami will have two opportunities to close out the Finals at home. Should the Mavericks prevail, the Heat would need to win two straight at home to claim triumph. Should the Mavericks prevail and LeBron play a sub-tremendous game? Watch out below, but that rain will turn to fire.

No matter what happens, eyes will follow LeBron all over the court, and a million headlines will lead with his name on Friday. That's what LeBron has become: an entity in full, a "story" separate but inextricable from these very Finals. Dirk Nowitzki is only ever discussed in the context of basketball, even if the tie is stretched. LeBron begets discourse on humanity and spirituality; half the time, we aren't even talking about basketball when we talk about LeBron.

So consider Game 5 America's biggest book club ever. Check this StoryStream for news leading up to the game, including Sebastian Pruiti's Heat adjustments and more.

For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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