Daily Sports: LeBron Again Faces The Pressure On Thursday

Once again, the eyes of the sports world are on LeBron James, as he once again tries to answer the seemingly never-ending cascade of criticism that’s always ready to jump out. With James having been held in check offensively through the first three games of the NBA Finals, his Miami Heat trail the San Antonio Spurs 2-1 in the series and face a game that a lot of people consider must-win, tonight at 9 PM ET on ABC.

I’m not in the “must-win” category. I think as long as Miami gets this series back to South Beach, they’ve got at least an even money chance at winning it, and I’m not persuaded that it matters which game they take in San Antonio. But it would certainly make their lives a lot easier. And if Tony Parker, whose MRI revealed a strain in his hamstring can’t go, that would be even easier.

One thing we can say for sure—David Stern is smiling right now. He’s guaranteed at least two games that will be absolute ratings bonanzas, and if the Spurs are the team leading 3-2 by the end of the week, then Game 6 will be another through-the-roof ratings night. No one scripts a plot like the outgoing NBA commish, who always seems to have things fall his way.

Also on Thursday’s daily sports docket is some major league baseball, as the Boston Red Sox head to Baltimore and take on the Orioles. Game time is 7 PM ET on MLB Network, as two of the teams in the four-horse race that is the AL East go head-to-head.

The U.S. Open coverage is going all day long, between NBC and ESPN, but for those who are at work and just want to see the highlights, tune into ESPN at 8 PM ET for a “Best Of The U.S. Open”, after the event’s first day has concluded.

Outside the lines is a 30-for-30 feature that goes into the psychological realm. The 8:30 PM ET program on ESPNU will look at the mindset of athletes whose competitive nature on the field ended up ruining them off the field.

Here at TheSportsNotebook, we’ll have NHL analysis coming up, looking back at the Game 1 drama between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. NBA commentary is back tomorrow to see how those Finals stand after four games. I’m hoping to get some more MLB coverage in, but with championship action going on in hoops and hockey, we’re probably looking at the weekend before doing fresh baseball installments in both the American and National League.