LeBron James, coming off the lowest-scoring playoff game of his career, is gearing up for what he surely will be the biggest game of his career, until the next one, of course.
He has ample motivation after DeShawn Stevenson said James sort of “checked out’’ of Game 4 when he saw that Dwyane Wade was taking over the Heat’s offense.
Wade said he believes the Mavericks’ commentary on James’ invisible Game 4 (in the scoring department, at least) will be plenty of motivation for James.
“It fuels him,’’ Wade said. “It adds a little extra fuel to the gas tank. No question. So we appreciate Dallas. But even if he lost focus, to help get his focus back, we appreciate the words that are coming out of their mouths.’’
Coach Rick Carlisle said he’s not overly concerned about anything the Mavericks may have said in the last 48 hours.
“None of that stuff is meaningful at all,’’ he said. “Once the ball gets thrown up between the
lines, all of that stuff is manufactured stuff from the media.
“Look, I got some crazy guys. And I love them. You want to have that kind of crazy guys on your team this time of year.’’
Dirk Nowitzki said he expects vintage LeBron to be on display tonight at American Airlines Center.
“I try to never really worry about what people say,’’ Nowitzki said. “You got to play your own game and
he’s been around long enough and he’s going to recover. Every time you come off a suspect game, I think what you try to do is attack, try to establish yourself early and get your confidence up.
“That’s what we’re expecting, for him to really come out firing and set the tone. So we got to be ready defensively.
"I think that’s where we made a mistake in Game 3 after the win. We weren’t ready to play on the defensive end. And that’s what got us in trouble. So hopefully we’ll be ready for that.’’
What the Heat may have to guard against, of course, is James trying to do too much too quickly in tonight’s game to the detriment of the team concept.