|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2011||[Print without images]|
DALLAS -- DeShawn Stevenson is still going strong, on the court and with his opinions. The latest from the rugged Dallas Mavericks swingman is that Miami Heat star LeBron James "checked out" in Game 4.
So what exactly did Stevenson mean?
"Dwyane Wade had it going and sometimes you get like that when a player has it going," Stevenson said Wednesday afternoon.
Wade scored 32 in Tuesday night's 86-83 loss to the Mavericks that evened the NBA Finals at 2-2. The fifth game is Thursday night at American Airlines Center before the best-of-seven series heads back to Miami.
James scored a career playoff-low eight on 3-of-11 shooting in 46 minutes. The two-time MVP didn't have a basket in the last 15 minutes of Game 4, and the criticism has piled on since. James took a backseat to Wade with a chance for the Heat to take a stranglehold on the series.
"It's very surprising with his athletic ability to put pressure on us," Stevenson said. "I think he was spreading it out. I don't know if it was because Dwyane Wade was playing well, but that helped us out."
Stevenson, Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd were the main Dallas defenders against James.
"Our defense was good, but at the same time he wasn't in attack mode," said Stevenson, who scored 11 in Game 4. "We all know that LeBron can get to the basket and when he has his shot going, it's pretty tough to keep him from the free throw line."
Stevenson made headlines earlier this week calling James and Wade "great actors." Stevenson said after Game 4 that this wasn't the same James that played in Cleveland. A passive LeBron works for the Mavericks.
"He's not getting the same looks," Stevenson said. "He's trying to find other guys and Dwyane Wade has it going, so I think he's deferring. At the same time, it's good for us. It's a positive for us."
James hasn't engaged in much of a back-and-forth with Stevenson.
"He's been talking a long time, since our Washington-Cleveland days," James said. "I don't let that get to us. We're playing well. It's a three-game series. Talk is cheap.
"You have to play the game of basketball. Let the scores and the plays define the game. We don't get caught up in that too much."
While James has taken more of a playmaking role in the Finals, Stevenson suggested the Heat and the two-time MVP haven't fully grasped coach Erik Spoelstra's offense yet.
"I don't think they know the spots and ways to get the ball, and I don't think he knows that either," Stevenson said.Art Garcia covers the Mavs for ESPNDallas.com.