Lineup change expected to stick in Game 5
DALLAS -- J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson, the two men involved in the Dallas Mavericks' Game 4 switcheroo, certainly expect it to stick for Thursday's Game 5 against the Miami Heat.
"It has to," Stevenson said. "It worked."
Stevenson moved from starting shooting guard to backup small forward in Game 4 and wound up playing more than 25 minutes, about 11 more than he was averaging in the NBA Finals as a starter. He recorded his first double-digit scoring effort of the playoffs with 11 points, all in the second quarter during a stretch in which he hit 3-of-4 from 3-point land and three in a row.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle made the move seeking an offensive spark early with an additional playmaker in Barea and to try to pick up the game's pace to better favor the Mavs' preferred style of play. However, the defensive adjustment was even more impactful. Carlisle wanted to reduce Shawn Marion's minutes so he opted to bring Stevenson off the bench behind Marion to help guard LeBron James. It paid off as James finished with eight points, his first-ever playoff game scoring in single figures.
"The reason to do it, there were several," Carlisle said. "There was the whole rotation. The issue with Marion's minutes, I thought we could address sort of in a residual way, I guess, for lack of a better word. Then, Miami is so active and such a great rotating team defensively that having playmaking on the floor is important. And so it just was something that I felt it was the right thing."
The lineup switch moved backup point guard Barea into the starting spot at shooting guard. It's an interesting move because when Barea is paired with Jason Kidd, the elder statesman tends to give the ball to the quick-footed Barea, the team's best penetrator, and tell him to go to work.
"It’s great, I like it," Barea said of starting next to Kidd. "He’s always giving me the ball, too, and telling me to attack, so I got to attack. When you’ve got Jason Kidd giving you the ball and telling you to attack, you better attack."
Barea would still like to make more shots. He was 3-of-9 for eight points in 22 minutes, and he'd love to have back a blown first-quarter layup down the middle of the lane where he might have been stunned just how clear his path was to the basket.
"I think since I was 3 years old I never missed a layup like that," Barea said. "It just stuck on the rim."
Barea does prefer his matchup in the starting lineup against the older, smaller and slower Mike Bibby as compared to Mario Chalmers off the bench. Barea had previously said that Chalmers did a good job of using his bigger body stay in front of him.
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