INDIANAPOLIS -- Coming off a 34-point loss in Game 6 of the Cleveland Cavaliers' first-round series against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, LeBron James said his focus is on how a Game 7 loss Sunday could end his season, not how it could be his last game ever playing for the Cavs.
"No. No," James said when a reporter asked if he would ponder how his 11-year tenure in Cleveland could be coming to an end should the Cavs lose and James choose another team after opting out of the final year of his contract this summer. "The thought of, 'If we don't play well it will be my last game of the year,' that will probably hit my mind, but I haven't thought about that."
Friday's 121-87 loss to the Pacers snapped an 11-game winning streak for James' teams in closeout games. And a loss Sunday would snap James' perfect 12-0 record in the first round of the playoffs in his career.
Not that the Cavs' struggles can be remotely pegged on the four-time MVP this series. In Game 6, James led the Cavs with 22 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal. When he checked out for good after the third quarter, no other Cavs player was in double digits.
Through six games, James is averaging 32.7 points on 53.6 percent shooting, 10.3 rebounds and 7.8 assists. Cleveland's next-leading scorer is Kevin Love at 11 points per game on 32.4 percent shooting. Love finished with seven points on 3-for-10 shooting Friday.
"I mean, he's a huge part of our success or our non-success," James said of Love. "Obviously, we try to go to him, we want to go to him. Obviously, we can't make the shots for him. He has to step up and knock those down. Those things you can't control. The shot-making, you're going to have games where you can't make shots and you can make shots, but we have to continue to let him know how important he is to our success, and if [we] want to have any success, either in a Game 7 or moving on to the next round, Kev has to be a big part of that."
Love, who suffered a thumb injury on his left hand in Game 2, tried to deflect the attention away from his offensive woes Friday.
"It's not me, but it's not about me, either. I've done a lot of other good things," said Love, who is averaging 9.8 rebounds this postseason. "I know you guys will talk about the offense, but I just got to find a way to impact the game in different ways."
James, who is 4-2 in his career in Game 7s, pointed out the excitement that the opportunity generates.
"It's just the love of the game and wanting to be remembered," James said. "Game 7, I always said, is the two greatest words in sports. But, I don't know, I played a Game 7 in the Finals and there's no move on after that. So us having a Game 7 on our floor, our fans are going to be truly excited to be a part of that. And hope our guys are excited about that as well, and understand that just don't take those moments for granted. I've been a part of Game 7s for quite a while now and it's just something that you wish you can get back and when you're done playing the game."
On the other side of things, the No. 5-seeded Pacers, who will look to steal the series on the road, don't want to celebrate just because they pushed the Cavs this far.
"The pressure is on both teams," said Indiana coach Nate McMillan. "The loser goes home. So, for us, we take it one game at a time and we prepare ourselves for that next game. The next game is on the road. We understand the conditions we're playing in, but to say they feel more pressure than us? No. The losers go home. So there's pressure on both teams. We're not going to be satisfied with just going up there and playing a good game and losing it. We have an opportunity and we're going to go and try and take advantage of it."
It would be a feather in McMillan's coaching cap to take down the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions while simultaneously potentially ushering James out of Cleveland, but the veteran coach shrugged off the implications.
"We're not really focusing on the Cavaliers of the past and what people are saying, the outside noise," McMillan said. "We're just focused on the next game and winning that game and playing better than we did in our last game. And we're not looking or listening to anything other than that. One thing that we have talked about, the outside noise, what people are saying, they can't help us. The only people that can help us are the people in that room, that locker room. And they believe in each other, they came out, they competed for each other tonight and they came out and they beat a f---in' really -- excuse me -- really good team. I'm still kind of fired up here."
If McMillan's tone with his team was fiery, James seems to be taking a wait-and-see approach with his teammates, as many of them head into the biggest game of their professional lives thus far.
"You guys ask me is there anything you can tell your guys Game 1? What can you tell your guys for Game 2? What can you do, tell your guys for Game 3? It's the same answer. Just throw the ball up and let's go out and play," James said. "I mean, it's the postseason. There's not much I can give you from my experience. There's not much people can tell you. You just gotta go out and live in the moment. And if you put everything on the floor, and [put] your mind to it, and you go out and execute and do the things you're supposed to be doing, and your teammates feel like they can rely on you, then win, lose or draw, you have nothing to keep your head down about."