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Thursday, June 2, 2011
Stevenson has unique view of James, D-Wade

By Jeff Caplan

MIAMI -- The Dallas Mavericks had a couple of miscalculations in Game 1 regarding LeBron James. Most glaring, of course, was being ill-prepared for the King to drape Jason Terry in the fourth quarter.

To start the game, the Mavs expected James to be the primary ball-handler, basically the point guard, as he was for the vast majority of the East finals against the Chicago Bulls. Because of that coach Rick Carlisle started the game with DeShawn Stevenson on James and Shawn Marion on Dwyane Wade.

Carlisle likes for Stevenson to pressure the ball upcourt to force the offense to set up with about 17 or 16 seconds on the shot clock instead of 20, and that's especially true against the halfcourt oriented Heat, who thrive on isolation with their two superstar wings.

However, Stevenson quickly switched over to Wade because James didn't assume the point.

"Coach wanted me to pick him up fullcourt. The other series [against Chicago] basically he was a point guard, brought the ball down," Stevenson said. "[In Game 1] he didn't do that, so coach felt like it was a waste doing that so then we switched back."

Stevenson has the unique situation of having to guard both superstars. He played just 14:26 in Game 1 after being replaced quickly in the third quarter with J.J. Barea.

Dallas did a decent job on James, yet he still finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists, a stat line that would seem to be able to demoralize defenders.

"I think he had a decent game. I don't think he had a game where he just dominated, but I that shows a lot about the type of player he is and the All-Star that he is that he can have an OK game and he's 24, nine and five," Stevenson said. "We've got to let either two of the big three score and stop the other one, but we can't let them get off and then Mario Chalmers make big 3s and Mike Miller coming in making big 3s. We've got to stop that."

And then there's D-Wade, who finished with 22 points, six assists and 10 rebounds, and at times felt like an afterthought.

"I just think right now he's deferring, which he has to because he has two other All-Stars on the team. Young All-Stars, too," Stevenson said.

It was suggested that Wade is playing the role of facilitator through the first half of the game and conserving his energy for the fourth quarter when the Heat have been so dominant this postseason. There's been speculation that Wade is playing hurt, although he emphatically said he is not. Stevenson backed up his claim.

"Dwyane's Dwyane," Stevenson said. "I don't think he's hurt. He's a tough guy, he's from Chicago."