As you've probably heard by now, the Miami Heat have a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals heading into Tuesday night's Game 4. For the most part, they've done so by playing great defense, especially late in their Game 1 and Game 3 wins.
One of the key figures in that defense dominance has been LeBron James(notes), who has covered Mavericks scoring guard Jason Terry(notes) quite well. Except, if you ask Terry, the Heat defense hasn't been so great. Oh, and it's not even the best that Dallas has seen in this postseason. From Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com (via Eye on Basketball):
"They know to take me out of the fourth quarter, which they didn't do in Game 2," Terry said of the Heat's choice to turn to James defensively, "then they got a good chance."
Added Terry: "Let's see if [James] can defend me like that for seven games." [...]
But Terry still seems hesitant to give too much credit to the Heat, even going so far as to say the Portland Trail Blazers were better on defense in the first-round series than Miami has been in the Finals.
"Portland, by far, has the best D," said Terry, who added that the Heat has a "great scheme" that is "working for them thus far this series."
I'm not sure if JET is saying that Portland plays great team defense and Miami gets the job done despite not having stellar rotations, but I'm pretty sure he shouldn't anger the team that's currently two wins away from knocking him out of maybe his last chance of earning a championship ring with Dallas. The Heat play great defense and have for the entire playoffs. Terry can say that LeBron didn't stop him late in Game 2, but he also needs to admit that stopping a really good player twice in three games is a very impressive feat. One that validates a player's All-Defense selection, in fact.
Still, it makes sense that Terry would knock the Heat, even if he probably shouldn't have done so in public. NBA players thrive on confidence, and it's unlikely that he can beat Miami in Game 4 and beyond without thinking his offense is better than LeBron's defense. It's a necessary point of view if he wants to be a major factor in the Mavericks bringing the Larry O'Brien Trophy to Dallas.
The issue here isn't that Terry thinks this, but that he said it in public. If the best defense the Mavericks faced this playoffs belongs to a team they beat in six games, there's still a lot of hope for them in this series.