LeBron James made something of a statement last time out for the Cleveland Cavaliers as he produced just his second triple-double performance of the season in a victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Finishing with 33 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds on Monday, the four-time NBA MVP looked in relentless form as the Cavs bounced back from a disappointing defeat to the Miami Heat over the weekend.
Opponents may have been hoping it was something of a one-off from the 31-year-old. Speaking yesterday, however, James had what was a rather ominous message for those teams that remain on Cleveland's schedule; he is already in "playoff mode."
Article continues below
"I have," said James, via 247 Sports, when asked if he had flipped the switch into playoff mode.
"A little bit sooner than normal, but I understand that it (the playoffs) is right around the corner and I want to start mentally preparing myself for the distance."
With 12 games remaining of the regular season and the Cavaliers currently occupying the top seed in the Eastern Conference, their postseason prospects are inevitably the focus of much of the discussion around the team.
James, who is averaging 24.9 points in his second season back in Ohio, will need to be at his very best if Cleveland is to go one better than last year and get their hands on the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Elaborating on his current mindset, he is clearly very aware of that:
"Mentally I've just been a little bit more sharper minded as of late, just guarantors...Understand that it is right around the corner and it is going to be very, very challenging," the veteran told reporters.
Despite being somewhat overshadowed by Stephen Curry's phenomenal season, LeBron is himself having another standout campaign despite the Cavs struggling for consistency at times this year.
The prospect, then, of perhaps the greatest player of his generation stepping things up a gear over the home stretch will set alarm bells ringing for those players set to face him over the coming weeks.
Big things to come
Expecting a triple-double in each of the Cavs' final 12 outings before the postseason may be a little far-fetched.
Nevertheless, with James actually averaging a higher points-per-game average in playoff basketball than the regular season - 28.2 versus 27.2 - the fact he is fully engaged in "playoff mode" suggests we could see a vintage LeBron in upcoming fixtures.
Of course, switching to playoff mode doesn't just affect the two-time champion on the court.
With reports suggesting he is also cutting down his social media use to prepare for the playoffs, it looks like James is taking every step necessary to give himself the best chance to make it a hattrick of rings come the summer.