Believe it or not, but the most talked about person at the moment when it comes to the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers playoff series isn’t LeBron James, one of the most popular athletes on the planet. It happens to be Lance Stephenson, a villain or anti-hero depending on your alignment, mostly for things that have nothing to do with actual basketball.
Stepehnson sometimes looks like he intends to be this mischievous elf out to cause some trouble, and damn the torpedoes and what anyone says about him. As he himself acknowledged after the win over Miami, he is going to do whatever it takes to win the game, even if it means even hearing his head coach telling him that he has crossed some line by blowing in LeBron James’ ear in order to get some sort of edge on him and take the Heat’s star out of his rhythm.
Stephenson is also getting fined for flops. Pacers fan might be yelling “floppers” to the Miami Heat, but the officials have mostly been on the Pacers side in this series, especially in Indiana, and Stephenson flopped four times, blatantly. He got fined for the second time in this postseason – $10,000, which adds up to $15k in this series. Does anyone think he really cares about that, or any other player for that matter, when his behavior is recognized as helpful to his team?
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade laughed about the one man show that is Stephenson in the press conference after the game. Ray Allen called him a buffoon, or to be more exact buffoonery. He said it makes Stephenson look bad and unprofessional. Maybe he’s right, but the bottom line was that the Pacers won, which might have nothing to do with what Stephenson did at all. It probably was more about Paul George knocking down 3’s after the Pacers couldn’t get anything going all game long. But Stephenson sees this as an actual victory and also a moral one.
Everyone is waiting to see things besides the obvious anticipation of an outcome in game 6 of the Heat – Pacers series. How will LeBron James react to his poor, 7 points in 24 minutes performance, what kind of anti-basketball moves does Lance Stephenson have to show us now – can he get even more creative/dirty, and how will the officials perform in this one, being pro-Pacers in Indiana, sometimes too blatantly.
The record of the Miami Heat in close out games when playing at home is exceptional; perfect to be exact, at least in the big three era. LeBron James won’t get so many fouls on him that quickly two games in a row, and be sure he isn’t going to score 7 points two games in a row. But the Indiana Pacers are a walking enigma, a team that defies logic in their ups and downs when it comes to ability and team chemistry.
The Miami Heat are the better team, but a lot depends on which Indiana Pacers team shows up. LeBron James? He is the star of the show and the number one player on every court he steps. Lance Stephenson? He might be acting like the village drunk or court jester, but it’s hard to take your eyes off of him, even when there’s a basketball game happening away from his attention grabbing behavior.