If former Dallas Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson was firing a "shot" at the Miami Heat following Miami's 108-78 drubbing of Stevenson's Nets on Tuesday, then it was likely his most accurate shot of a season that has seen DeShawn barely make a quarter of his looks from the field. That's right, a guy shooting 25 percent from the floor on the season took a dig at how LeBron James played in the NBA Finals last year, when Stevenson's Mavs downed the Heat in six games.
And, somehow, Stevenson was completely right. Here's DeShawn:
"I think we were just a better team than them," Stevenson said. "And then obviously LeBron didn't play like he should have played [in the Finals]."
DeShawn's wrong, here?
The Mavs were a better team. They were deeper, played more consistently from stem to stern, took advantage of transition opportunities and pounced when the Heat were vulnerable. They were the deserving champs, title-winners not just because LeBron failed down the stretch, but because the Mavs earned it.
And, also, James stunk in the fourth quarters of Finals games last year. No way around it, he floated while still learning on the job, and his team suffered because of it. The cold comfort for Heat fans is that James didn't float in dominant fourth quarters (on both ends of the ball) in the team's wins over Boston (the defending Eastern champs) and Chicago (the squad with the best record in the NBA last season) in the two previous series. And he was the biggest reason the Heat were in the Finals to begin with.
DeShawn is also on the right track when he points this out:
"I just think they have more confidence," Stevenson said. "LeBron has more confidence, Dwyane Wade always played well. And I think Bosh even he's stepping up big. They're just a solid team. And whenever you've got LeBron playing like that, they're going to win the championship."
A moment later, Stevenson said he believed the Heat would win this year's championship.
"I think so," Stevenson said. "I really do. … They're a great team, a team that went to the Finals last year. That's the same pieces with even more additions. They play the right way. They picked us apart. Just a great team."
We shouldn't get caught in the act of handing teams the NBA championship trophy in the first week of March, as Stevenson just about did on Tuesday. The Heat look like world-beaters, but they remain top-heavy in terms of roster contributors and uneasy down the stretch of close games. And anyone suggesting they have insight as to who would win a Chicago/Miami showdown in this spring's playoffs is a nutter -- those two teams have played 11 times (including the playoffs) since LeBron James joined the Heat, and all but one of those contests came down to a coin flip game. Either Chicago or Miami could sweep the other this May, with the final point differential ending up in the single digits.
DeShawn is a bit of a nutter himself, from his goofball tattoos to his (erm) eccentric reactions to his Mavs winning the title in 2011. He's making two cogent, spot-on points in this realm, though. It can be cogent, proper and respectful criticism without being "a shot."
Not that Stevenson can make one anyway. Now that's "a shot," even if it is a lame one.
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