DeShawn Stevenson: Heat are 'actors'
"They're great actors and they sell it," Stevenson said Monday afternoon. "That's what they're supposed to do."
The Mavericks' struggles guarding James and Wade through three games of the NBA Finals are only heightened by their acting, Stevenson added. Miami leads the series 2-1 going into the second of three games at American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.
When it comes to James and Wade flying through the lane, Stevenson said the Mavericks' tendency to send a message is muted.
"We've got to take hard fouls," Stevenson said, "but if you touch them they're so dramatic you might get a flagrant 2."
Stevenson added that a hard foul could lead to not just a flagrant foul, but a suspension. Wade is averaging 29 points in the series, with James scoring 20.3.
"It just makes it tough," Stevenson continued. "They put a lot of pressure on us. If you do one little thing it's going to be magnified to a big ordeal. I think when they go up and do the dunks, if you take a hard foul, the outcome is going to be pretty bad."
Perhaps the Mavericks are holding back, but it's not as if Wade and James are wearing out the line. Wade has 21 free throws in the Finals, an average of seven per game. (He shot 97 against Dallas in the 2006 Finals -- an average of 16.2 per game.) James only has 10 free throws, while Chris Bosh has attempted 21.
The Mavericks are actually getting the benefit of the whistles, going to the charity stripe 80 times through the first three games. The Heat have taken 65 free throws total. Dirk Nowitzki leads both teams with 24 free throw attempts. Tyson Chandler has taken 17 and Jason Terry has 16.
Mavericks forward Shawn Marion has spent much of the series guarding James, and agrees somewhat with Stevenson.
"There was a couple of them where I thought they acted, but I'm just trying to play," Marion said. "I'm not trying to get caught up with that. If that's how he feels, that's how he feels."
This isn't the first time Stevenson has called out James. They've got a feud going back to the 2008 playoffs when James' Cleveland Cavaliers eliminated Stevenson and the Washington Wizards for the second straight year. Stevenson called James "overrated."
As for Stevenson's "great actors" accusation, an agitated Wade took the high road.
"I have no comment on that," Wade said. "We'll talk about that at the end of the series."
Art Garcia is a reporter for ESPNDallas.com.
Follow Art Garcia on Twitter: @ArtGarcia_NBA