Celtics vs. Heat Game 7: Why LeBron's Legacy Is Still on the Line in Game 7

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IJune 8, 2012

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 07:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts against the Boston Celtics in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 7, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Miami Heat superstar LeBron James made a huge statement Thursday night as the Heat avoided elimination with an emphatic win on the road against the Boston Celtics.

While it's true that LBJ turned in a performance for the ages in Game 6, it's not quite enough, as his legacy is going to be on the line in Saturday's Game 7.

James single-handedly carried the Heat to victory in Game 6, scoring 45 points, grabbing 15 rebounds, dishing out five assists and knocking down an impressive 19-of-26 shots from the floor.

Yet, that's all for nothing if he isn't spectacular in Game 7.

That's what's expected of LeBron. Nothing short of spectacular will be allowed.

The reason why his legacy isn't complete is the lack of a championship, but it's also his performance in the past two postseasons.

There was 2010 as a Cleveland Cavalier when LBJ mailed it in during the final two games of the Eastern Conference semifinals. James scored just 15 points on 14 shots in a Game 5 loss and then ended his career as a Cavalier with a nine-turnover performance in Game 6. 

Then there was the performance in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, where, to be honest, LeBron was pretty much lousy.

However, Thursday night was a legacy-shaping game. LeBron has had his moments in the past, like his 48-point effort against the Detroit Pistons in 2006. There was the Game 4 performance against the Indiana Pacers this season.

Yet Thursday night's performance may have trumped them all.

Something was different about it. Maybe it was the look in LeBron's eye, maybe it was the chip on his shoulder, but one thing is for sure—he looked like a guy who finally figured out what he had to do in order to succeed in the playoffs.

But as statistically brilliant and physically dominant as James was in Game 6, it doesn't mean much if he doesn't back it up with a dominant performance in Game 7.

That's a lot of pressure to put on a player, but if he doesn't live up to the moment on Saturday, James will be viewed as the most gifted player in the NBA, but as the guy that can't get it done when all of the chips are on the table.

Fair or not fair, he will have to shoulder the majority of the blame should he and the Heat fail in Game 7.

However, if he steps up and delivers, LBJ's legacy will be that of a guy who may be one of the best individual postseason performers of all time. Then once he gets that championship, his legacy will be complete.

But that chapter isn't ready to be written just yet. There's a lot of work still left to be done.

In Game 7 Saturday night against the Boston Celtics, there's much more than just a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.

LeBron's legacy is also on the line.