DALLAS _ His offensive numbers are nothing to boast about.
Dallas Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson is averaging just 2.8 points and is shooting only 33.3 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three-point range during the first five games of this opening round playoff series against Portland. But the Mavs don’t fret about Stevenson’s offensive numbers, because it’s the defensive end of the floor where he makes his money.
Now in his 12th season, Stevenson can often be seen pressuring opposing point guards in the backcourt and making them work extra hard to get the ball up the floor. The Trail Blazers have employed that tactic against Jason Kidd, and Stevenson has been the baseline-to-baseline defensive tormentor for the Mavs.
“We’ve got to do some of the same stuff they do to us,’’ forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “Obviously they’re trying to pick J-Kidd up full court and trying to make him work and wear him down as the game goes along.
“We’re trying to do the same thing and just have a presence about ourselves defensively.’’
Stevenson is only averaging 13 minutes in this series. And although he starts the games and the second halves, he rarely plays any of the in-between game and pivotal late-game minutes.
Still, coach Rick Carlisle is appreciative of the job Stevenson does.
“The more you can raise our level of overall aggression, it helps,’’ Carlisle said. “If you’ve got a guy on the ball that’s doing it and it’s at the point of attack initially, it’s something that helps our aggressiveness as a defensive team.’’
Stevenson plays the type of in-your-face defense that the Mavs hope will help them close out their series against the Blazers when Game 6 is played Thursday at 9:30 p.m. in Portland.
“It gets us going,’’ Nowitzki said of Stevenson. “We talk about it because we saw it defensively. I think that really sets our offense up. It’s not the other way around.
“We don’t want to trade baskets and then try to get going offensively against a set defense. We want to get stops and play off each other in the transition game.’’
That’s where Stevenson comes in. Indeed, he has slowly become the unsung hero of this ballclub.
-- Dwain Price
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