You could say that this Sunday's basketball game is important. The Golden State Warriors, led by two-time MVP Stephen Curry, will host the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by four-time MVP LeBron James. If the Warriors win, they will be back-to-back champions, putting the cherry on top of their 73-win dream season. If the Cavaliers win, they will bring the city of Cleveland its first NBA title and its first professional sports championship in 52 years.
It's Game 7 of the Finals. Here are six questions as the last game of the season approaches:
1. Can LeBron keep this up?
James leads everyone in everything in this series, and the only problem with putting up 41 points, many assists, many rebounds and almost no turnovers in consecutive games is that people start to think that you can do it whenever you want. That is flatly not the case, but the Cavaliers need their best player to continue to shoot with confidence and pick apart Golden State's defense if they are going to pull this off.
Regardless of what happens in the deciding game, James has already built a strong case for Finals MVP. You can expect the Warriors to throw everything they have at him at Oracle Arena, and he will have to balance his desire to dominate with getting his teammates involved. He's pretty much always great at that, and it would be foolish to doubt him now.
2. What does Steph have in store?
On Saturday, Curry said he needs to play his best game of the year, if not his career, simply because of the stakes. As if there wasn't enough pressure on him.
Since Game 6, the fouls, the fine and the mouthguard incident, all the talk surrounding Curry has made it seem like he had a full-fledged meltdown on the court. If you go back and watch it, though, it's all pretty mild. The game was out of reach when he fouled out, so he decided to voice his displeasure. It happens. Let's remember that it's only been a week since people were talking about James losing his composure.
Curry has spent this whole season playing hero, and it would feel a little weird if he didn't finish it off with another victory. He knows that Cleveland is going to be physical with him, make him work on defense and give him as little airspace as possible. His job is to make all of that irrelevant, as he has done many times before.
3. Can the Cavs' role players perform on the road?
It's an NBA truism that role players are worse away from home. This will be as hostile an atmosphere as you can imagine, and Cleveland can't afford their role players wilting. Tristan Thompson played the game of his life on Thursday, and Richard Jefferson has been everything the Cavs could hope for this series. The two of them will be counted on again. The most interesting case, though, is that of J.R. Smith.
Smith has averaged six points on 33.3 percent shooting in three games in Oakland, going 3-for-9 from 3-point range. In three Finals games in Cleveland, he averaged 14.7 points, shooting 44.1 percent and shooting 11-for-28 from deep. He is generally a good barometer for the Cavs' offense, and that has been especially true in this series.
4. How healthy is Andre Iguodala?
A couple of Warriors losses ago, last year's Finals MVP looked like he might be on his way to a repeat performance. Iguodala guards James as well as anybody, and he organizes the offense for Golden State when he comes off the bench. With Andrew Bogut nursing a knee injury, Iguodala's starting with the death lineup again, but it's impossible to know whether or not he'll be himself.
Iguodala is getting as much treatment as possible before Game 7 in the hopes that he won't be hobbling around again. Game 6 saw him go to the locker room to get a heat pack applied to his stiff back, which bothered him to the point of ineffectiveness. Like Draymond Green a game before, his value was illustrated the most when he was unable to perform.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr said Iguodala will be "good to go," and Iguodala said the injury won't stop him from doing what he needs to do. The Warriors better hope so.
5. Will Cleveland overcome history?
If the Cavs earn another victory, they won't just end that 52-year drought. They will also become the first team to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit and win in the Finals. They are one of only three teams that have even forced a Game 7 after falling behind 3-1. Some other not-so-fun facts for Cleveland:
Golden State has not lost three straight games since Kerr became coach.
Home teams are 15-3 in Game 7s in the Finals.
6. Is Barnes' jumper out there somewhere?
A week ago, Harrison Barnes was having a fantastic Finals. He was averaging 12.5 points and making 51.3 percent of his shots, including 42.9 percent of his 3s. The Sporting News' Sean Deveney reported after Game 4 that the Warriors were prepared to match any offer for him in restricted free agency this summer, even if it started at more than $20 million per season. Then Barnes shot 2-for-14 in Game 5 and 0-for-8 in a scoreless Game 6.
Nothing would be better for Golden State than Barnes starting the game by making a couple of open jumpers. His rhythm has been completely off, and the Cavs have even dared him to shoot. If he doesn't stop slumping now, he'll have a whole summer to think about it.