Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Updated: May 12, 8:53 AM ET
Mavs' J.J. Barea likes Memphis matchup
Dallas Mavericks backup point guard J.J. Barea made his choice clear about who he'd rather face in the Western Conference finals -- albeit for a few seconds -- during an interview with "ESPN First Take" on Wednesday morning.
"I think personally, if I have a preference, I would rather play Memphis, I think," Barea said when asked which opponent best suited his style of play. "But it really don't matter. As a team, if we keep doing what we're doing and play defense the way we are and scoring the ball, we're going to be fine."
Barea appeared to hedge moments later and didn't give an explanation as to why he preferred the Grizzlies.
"I'm just trying to put it out there and maybe pick one, but I really don't know," he said.
The Mavericks advanced to the Western Conference finals Sunday, completing a four-game sweep of the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. They'll face the winner of the Oklahoma City Thunder-Memphis Grizzlies series, which is currently tied 2-2.
Barea gave the Lakers fits in the second round, averaging 11.5 points and 5.5 assists in the sweep.
His play was enough to get under the skin of the Lakers, who twice committed flagrant fouls on Barea. Ron Artest rapped him across the face in the final moments of Game 2, and Andrew Bynum threw an elbow into the ribs of an airborne Barea in Game 4. Barea flew sideways to the court and remained there writhing in pain.
Both Lakers players were ejected for their actions. Bynum, who was suspended for the first five games of next season and fined $25,000 for the infraction, issued an apology Tuesday.
"It's good that he apologized," Barea said. "He's a great guy I think. Great player. He's a pro. He didn't want to hurt me. I think he just got frustrated at the moment. ... He just wasn't thinking and he took it out on me."