Assembled with the sole intention of winning NBA titles, the Miami Heat will return to the NBA Finals on Tuesday night when they face the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
The pressure is once again on Miami to win a title after losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, and nobody is feeling the anxiety more than LeBron James.
Making his third appearance in the Finals, James needs this championship to not only end his losing streak, but to silence all the non-believers.
But James has displayed little effect from intense media scrutiny.
At the end of the day in this series I'm going to play my game and try to do whatever it takes on both ends and make plays, James said. Whatever the results, I'm going to be satisfied with that. I'm going to be happy with it because I know I'm going to give it my all.
Although the spotlight is on Miami to produce a ring, the Oklahoma City Thunder should not necessarily be considered the underdogs in this series.
Led by 23-year-old Kevin Durant, the youthful Thunder have sparked throughout their playoff contention, and are out to prove they have the maturity to win a title.
Of course, everybody is going to say it's not our time, we're too young, it's going to happen eventually, but that's not the approach we ever want to take with anything, Durant said. My mom always told me when I was going against older guys, 'Don't let your age be the reason why you don't succeed.'
The most highly anticipated match-up of the series is no doubt between James and Durant.
For the first time since 1997, the league's MVP (James) and the league's scoring champion (Durant) will square off against each other in the title round.
It's going to bring the best out of both of them, and it's going to be the best for the game, and it's going to be a great show and it's going to be a good matchup, Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.
That's good basketball, to see Kevin and LeBron go at each other, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. There's always a game within the game.
The game is set to tip-off at 9 p.m. ET. You can watch Game 1 on ABC. If you can't get to a television, you can watch a free live stream online here.
Prediction: This is certainly not going to be a joy ride for either teams, but expect the Heat to deliver big early. Look for James and Wade to have strong scoring night, and for Chris Bosh to have a monster game on defense. Fueled by Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder will need to continue their active team-style play in order to cool off the Heat.
Predicted score: Miami 102, Oklahoma City 96