OAKLAND, Calif. -- A year ago at this time, LeBron James was exerting so much energy during the NBA Finals that he required around-the-clock treatment and work on his body -- until there was nothing left to give. We chronicled the recovery regimen here, and it was extreme, to put it mildly.

After James and the Cavaliers have won two straight games to force Sunday's Game 7, is it any wonder that the person on the other end of the emergency treatment protocol is not James, but rather the guy who has been guarding him?

"The main thing is not to use it as an excuse -- to still try to find a way," Andre Iguodala said Saturday. "You tell yourself you're fine, and just go all out and do whatever it takes to help your team win."

Sounds simple, but it's not. Elite athletes absorb an elite form of punishment -- especially when it's your job to guard the most dominant player in the world.

Iguodala was the key to the Warriors' surge back from a 2-1 deficit in last year's Finals against the Cavs, the ingredient that turned the series in Golden State's favor. His performance at both ends of the floor earned him not only a championship, but also a Finals MVP trophy. The vote was seven for Iguodala (including me), and four for the guy he was guarding -- James.

"Last year he almost got Finals MVP and they lost," Iguodala said. "He's always going to try to impose his will on the game. He's always going to fill up the stat sheet -- not just fill it up, but huge numbers across the board. You've got to have a complete effort guarding him for a complete 48-minutes and try to make the game as tough as possible."

Iguodala has been doing that, and this time, it has been a daunting task. James has produced two straight 41-point games, and is leading the series in every significant offensive category -- to say nothing of his impact on the defensive end.

To these eyes, James has never looked fresher or more energetic at this stage of a postseason run. Clearly, he has benefited from the great care he takes of his body, but also from the extended Finals schedule. Last year, the first six games of the Finals took 13 days. This year, it has been 15 days -- with two more days' rest before Game 7. The extra day of recovery and treatment each time the series has switched cities clearly has benefited the King.

As for Iguodala? Well, with a well-rested, well-recovered LeBron, the task of holding him in check is much more difficult that it was a year ago. Plus, it has helped that he has gotten stellar contributions from an ambulatory Kyrie Irving and a determined, almost beast-like Tristan Thompson. He got neither a year ago.

Thus, Iguodala's back gave out in Game 6, reducing him to a limping, non-jumping shell of himself. The two most difficult tasks, Iguodala said Saturday, were accelerating on changes of possession and jumping for rebounds.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. So Iguodala, an intensely private man, opened his East Bay home to Warriors physical therapist Chelsea Lane on Friday for an hours-long treatment session. With an extra 24 hours between Games 6 and 7, ditto for Saturday at Casa de Iguodala.

"It's funny," Iguodala said. "I don't let too many people in my home, but they said she's special, so she got an invite. She got through the front door."

The injury, Iguodala said, resulted from the "perfect storm of travel and wear and tear and a certain part of the season. ... Hopefully it was just a fluke. I'll be ready to go full strength [Sunday], whether it's perfectly fine or whether it's not. It won't be a reason I can't do what I feel like I need to do out there."

What he'll need to do is no small task: Find some way to slow down the freight train that is LeBron James, who has come back to Oakland in pursuit of the Warriors' official title and Stephen Curry's unofficial one as the best player on the planet. From the forceful, brilliant performances he has assembled, it doesn't appear that he intends to leave without both.

Entering Game 5 and facing a 3-1 deficit, James was regaled with the same old story of his supposed incompetence. He was only 2-4 when facing Finals elimination, they said. He was 2-4 going on 2-5 in his Finals career, they said.

Michael Jordan was 6-0 in the Finals, they said.

Well, after two straight victories, James is now 4-4 when facing Finals elimination and is one win away from his third title at age 31 -- the same age after which the unattainable ghost of Jordan won three more championships.

In those eight games when facing Finals elimination, James' averages are up to 32.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists. He has scored 30-plus points in six straight games under those circumstances, including two straight with more than 40.

And the man who's trying to stop him has been undergoing the same kind of round-the-clock treatment that James' body had to endure last year. Hmm, I wonder why?

"You tell yourself you're fine, and just go all out and do whatever it takes to help your team win," Iguodala said.

Defensive stoppers have taken a variety of approaches in moments like this. Tony Allen used to like to get physical and get inside his opponent's head. Bruce Bowen studied tendencies and tried to anticipate his foe's every move.

Iguodala? He's kind of in the middle.

"I just try to do the right things from a basketball perspective," he said. "Be in the right place, beating my guy to the spot. I don't really try and get in guys' heads; I don't even think about that. I feel like if I respect the game, the game will, in return, give me back what I put in."

Two men with a similar approach, dueling in a winner-take-all Game 7. What could be better than that?

Andre Iguodala vs. LeBron James could be the key matchup of Game 7. USATSI