Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
After dropping 32 points, 10 rebounds and five assists on the hapless Pacers — and two renditions of his new specialty, the dunk-and-stomp — James said of Stephenson’s tactics, “I got a smirk out of it.”
“I don’t need any motivation,” James said. “I’m motivated enough to try to get back to the Finals. That’s motivating enough.”
He needed a villain, and Stephenson foolishly volunteered. James and the Heat never really found an enemy worthy of their indignation during a sleep-walk through the regular season — and mostly, through the first two rounds of the playoffs against Charlotte and Brooklyn. They never encountered a team that was even close to what the old Celtics used to bring out of them.
“We played Boston a lot, and they made it more than just basketball,” Dwyane Wade said. “They beat us in the mental game as well as the physical game.”
The Heat are now beating the Pacers at both — so much so, that the best the East’s top-seeded team could do after Game 4 was lament the 34-17 disparity in free-throw attempts in the Heat’s favor. It’s a little late to serve up bulletin board material for the officials, but you know what they say about desperate times.
“We learned some new rules tonight,” West said.
Above all, they learned Rule No. 1: Don’t give LeBron James any more reason to want to beat you than he already has.
CBS Sports NBA: Ken Berger – Lance Stephenson and the Pacers became the villan LeBron needed
While the Miami Heat devour their way through an Eastern Conference sauteed in weak sauce, we still see some references to the former beast in the East known as the Celtics. Chalk it up as a small victory since the C’s haven’t had any serious relevance for nearly two years. Since that epic 7-game series where the Celtics nearly
should have defeated Miami in 2012, members of the Heat have given them credit for making them tougher, for the team they are now.
It’s remarkable when you think about it really, because that one series was truly the only one that the C’s challenged Miami with both LeBron and Wade (and also Bosh). Sure, the Celtics beat LeBron and the Cavs in 2008 and 2010. They also beat Wade in 2010, but in 2011 it wasn’t much of a series especially once Rondo dislocated his elbow and played 3 1/2 games with one arm. But even when Miami finally eliminated the Celtics with their newly formed super team that year, they celebrated the second round victory more than seemingly any other series, including the championships they’ve won.
Ok maybe not last year after defeating San Antonio, but the point is made. These guys learned from the physical and mental beatings the Celtics gave them. They didn’t want to admit it until they first beat the Celtics in 2011, but ever since they have. So while Lance Stephenson wrongly went after LeBron, while Paul George is calling him out and blaming referees and while Roy Hibbert (you’re 7’2″ all-star) can’t even score a single basket, then blames the coach, well the seasoned Heat have simply beaten them at will.
Hate them all you want, but you can thank your Celtics, in part anyway, for making them so tough, such a machine now.
The rest of the links: