MIAMI – As far as heroes go for the Dallas Mavericks these days, DeShawn Stevenson has to rank pretty high on the list.
How many guys lose their starting job (to J.J. Barea) in The Finals and then come back even better? Stevenson did exactly that, going from the starting shooting guard spot to super sub as the Mavericks won three straight games to finish off the Miami Heat in six games.
Stevenson turned into a 3-point assassin off the bench in those final three games, nailing nine of his 14 attempts from deep, including making 3-for-5 Sunday night to finish off the Heat.
Waxing the Heat was extra sweet for Stevenson, whose personal beef with LeBron James predates their time with their respective teams, as Tim McMahon ESPNDallas.com made clear:
“It makes me feel good, man, to beat him, to beat that Miami team,” Stevenson told ESPNDallas.com in an AmericanAirlines Arena hallway after the Mavs clinched the title with Sunday’s Game 6 win. “The way they act, the way they treated Dirk [Nowitzki], all the things that they said were very classless. To win on the court the way we did it, it was wonderful.”
Make no mistake about it, this series was an extension of The 2006 Finals series between these same two teams. The fact that only four players, two from each side, remained from that series means nothing. The universal disdain between both sides was hard to miss — from the mocking of Nowitzki by James and Dwyane Wade to the near ruckus that broke out early in Game 6 when Stevenson and Udonis Haslem bumped into each other on their way to their respective benches during a stop in play.
“A series like this gets personal,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “It gets personal because we have guys that say things, and they do it to get themselves going. Then they have the incident with the camera and the coughing and all that stuff. You get to Game 5, Game 6 and it becomes personal. Our guys took it personally.”