The Miami Heat may be favored to clinch their fourth consecutive NBA Finals berth, but that won’t stop the Indiana Pacers for throwing their entire arsenal at the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. In fact, the Pacers may have found the secret to their ability to advance. Unfortunately for Miami, it means pushing Dwyane Wade’s health to the limit.
“D. 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,” Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson said after Saturday’s practice, according to The Palm Beach Post. “I’ll do anything as much as possible.”
It may sound like a dirty tactic, but it is one that is used by several teams in multiple sports. It is no secret that Wade’s knees are on life support, which is why it is also no secret that Indiana is going to exploit it to the best of their ability. Running plays directly at Wade and being aggressive as much as possible whenever the opportunity presents itself could give the Pacers an edge, especially if the East Finals goes seven games as it did last year.
“It’s just basketball,” Stephenson continued. “If I see D. Wade walking in the street, I won’t try to get him. It’s just basketball and just playing hard against each other. We both have a goal and neither of is gonna allow that to happen easily. I don’t got no problems with them, but on the court there’s no friends.”
If you ask me, comments like this are what make the playoffs so great. We all know both teams are going to do whatever they can to gain the upper hand. It is just refreshing to see Stephenson go the old school route and call it as it is. If anything else, he is putting it in Wade’s mind what he is going to do, which could do just as much damage in the long run.
Wade attempted to brush Stephenson’s comments off as if they were nothing. However, the truth is he has to be partially worried because the only way Miami advances is if he can stay healthy. Without his presence, the Pacers could snowball some momentum and make the upset a reality. Therefore, Wade could be extra caution, especially since he knows Stephenson is going to work extra hard to get the knee to flare up.
For now, we will have to wait and see what happens one game at a time, which is just fine with basketball fans everywhere.