Sunday, June 5, 2011
Peja Stojakovic: 'I've got to stay ready'
By Tim MacMahon
DALLAS – Peja Stojakovic hasn’t scored a point during the Finals. He didn’t play a second during the second half of Game 2.
The amazingly athletic Heat have exposed the 13-year veteran small forward’s defensive weaknesses during his 20 minutes of playing time in this series. However, coach Rick Carlisle said it wouldn’t be wise to assume that Stojakovic’s role will be reduced for the rest of the series.
"We’ll see,” Carlisle said. “Each game is going to be a little bit different. He’s been a big part of us getting to this point. Just because he didn’t play in the second half doesn’t mean he’s out of the picture by any stretch.”
Stojakovic, a sharpshooter who signed with Dallas for the veteran’s minimum midseason, more than earned his money during the Mavs’ march through the Western Conference bracket. He played particularly well during the stunning sweep of the two-time defending champion Lakers, averaging 12.5 points while shooting 51 percent from the floor and 52 percent from 3-point range in the series, which he capped with a 21-point, perfect-shooting performance.
Stojakovic has been much more effective at home than on the road during the playoffs. He has averaged 10 points and shot 47.8 percent from 3-point range at the American Airlines Center, compared to 5.1 points and 23.3 percent on 3s in enemy territory.
Stojakovic didn't come close to getting into a rhythm in Miami. He has attempted only three shots so far in the series.
“They’re staying with me on the rotations,” Stojakovic said. “I have to try to be patient and not force any bad shots, but at the same time, I’ve got to do something to get myself involved.
“First of all, you’ve got to be ready and have my mind into the game. When the opportunities are there, I’ll step into them and try to make them.”
Carlisle and Stojakovic had a conversation about the decision to keep the veteran on the bench during the second half of Thursday night’s comeback win. Stojakovic isn’t worried about how many minutes he gets, just maximizing his effectiveness when he is on the floor.
“I’ve got to stay ready,” Stojakovic said, repeating a Carlisle mantra for the Mavs’ reserves. “I feel confident. Hopefully, the opportunities are going to be there for me. I’ve just got to be aggressive and play my game.”