But so is the opponent they’re playing.
“We feel like we can compete with this team,” Indiana’s David West said. “We’re going to come out and give them everything we have until this thing is over with.”
One hot hand could swing the issue now. Lance Stephenson, maybe? He was tentative and ineffective for the Pacers in Game 3, and his teammates let him know it. He answered with 20 points Tuesday night, made most of the biggest baskets of the second half, and volunteered to guard James during some critical moments. That’s like volunteering to dance with a cobra, but he has the edge and the muscle to try.
“We were on him after the last game, yesterday, this morning,” West said Tuesday night. “We just stayed on him because we need him.”
Added Hill, “We need him to be the Lance Stephenson we know.”
Stephenson listened, and took it to heart so much, he said he barely slept Monday night. “They told me if I’m not me, we’re not the same team.
“I know I’ve got to bring it every game. I can’t take no days off.”
Everyone remembers this time last year, when Stephenson threw his hat into the ring to get elected knucklehead of the year for flashing James the choke signal during a Miami defeat. But he as much as any Pacer tormented the Heat in Game 4. He said he’d sleep much better Tuesday night.
James seems still a tad touchy about the matter. While being complementary about Stephenson’s effort, James tossed in, “If you’re sitting here and talking about an individual one-on-one match-up between me and Lance Stephenson, I’m not going to harp on that.”
Who gets pushed to the edge first?