Indiana Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson should know better.
Stephenson should know not to talk smack about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, something he’s made a point to do throughout the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals.
It started prior to game one when Stephenson made the following remarks about Wade:
“I think his knee is messed up, so I’ve got to be extra aggressive and make him run and have him running around and make his knee flare up or something,” Stephenson said. “I’ll do anything as much as possible.”
In response, Wade has turned back the clock and his having an unbelievable series. He’s averaging 24.3 points per game, and shooting an other worldly 62 percent from the field.
Clearly, Stephenson thought wrong. Instead of Stephenson being the aggressor, it’s been Wade.
Then after Miami blew past the Pacers in game three, Stephenson proclaimed that LeBron James supposed trash talk was “a sign of weakness”:
“To me, I think it’s a sign of weakness,” Stephenson said. “He never used to say anything to me. I always used to be the one who said, `I’m going to do something to get you mad.’ Now he’s trying to do it to me. So I feel like it’s a weakness. I feel like I’m doing something right because I’m getting under his skin, but I’ve definitely got to keep stepping up to the plate and be more aggressive when he does that.”
Like Wade, James responded with a vengeance scoring 32 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 5 assists in Miami’s 102-90 victory in game four. It was James’s 74th career playoff game where he had at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, which passed Michael Jordan for the most in NBA history.
Stephenson on the other hand, has not backed up his talk. Not only has his defense been sub-par, but his offense has been just as bad.
Following a strong showing in game two, Stephenson has fallen off hard when the Pacers needed him most. He scored just 10 points on 3/9 shooting in game three, and 9 points on 3/7 shooting in game four.
His game four performance looks better on paper than it actually was. Stephenson did not score until mid-way through the 3rd quarter, and did not convert a field goal until there were 5 minutes left in the game.
While James and Wade can dismiss Stephenson’s talk all they want, there’s no doubt they both took what he said personally and used it as motivation. For a team that has already won back-to-back titles, there was no need to ignite the beast, which is actually what Stephenson has done.