The Los Angeles Lakers title defence is hanging by a thread.
Trailing 3-2 in the series with significant injury concerns for star players, the Lakers head home to STAPLES Center for Game 6 with their back against the wall.
For LeBron James, the situation is an unfamiliar one, with the Los Angeles superstar never losing a first round series over the course of his Hall of Fame career. On top of that, the Game 4 and 5 losses are the first time he has lost back-to-back first round games and he has never trailed in a first round series after Game 5.
By halftime of the latest loss, the deficit was already 30 points, with the game all but over.
"We got our ass kicked. It's that simple," James told reporters.
"They're kicking our ass, but at the end of the day it's one game. They held serve at home, we go home with the opportunity to (do the same)."
In that sense, the series is following the designed path, with the Lakers looking to force a game seven which would see the teams return to Phoenix where the Suns have won two of the three contests thus far. Defeating James in a close out game will be no mean feat however, with his history of huge performances in elimination games well documented.
"It's literally win or go home at that point. You shoot all of the bullets you got, and throw the gun, too."
Complicating the situation for Los Angeles will be the health of Anthony Davis, with the star big man missing Game 5 due to a groin injury. Questionable for Game 6 in two nights time, James didn't appear confident his running mate would re-join him in the lineup.
"If something changes, we go from there. I'm preparing as if he's not (playing)."
James himself left the bench for the locker room with five minutes remaining. Head coach Frank Vogel revealed postgame that was simply to start his treatment ahead of the next game, with James still attempting to recover from a serious high ankle sprain suffered during the regular season.
The Lakers are looking every bit the worn-down champion, with Game 6 to determine whether or not they have another life in them.
"We'll find out. We'll find out what we're made of and how bad we want this," Vogel said.
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