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Barea, Cardinal replace Stevenson, Stojakovic in Maverick rotation

Jun 7, 2011, 4:05 PM EDT

J.J. Barea Getty Images

According to HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy, J.J. Barea will start over DeShawn Stevenson for the Mavericks in tonight’s Game 4, and Brian “The Janitor” Cardinal will be moved ahead of Peja Stojakovic in the Mavericks’ rotation.

At first blush, this move does not appear to make a lot of sense. Stevenson has been quietly having a pretty good Finals. He’s defended both Wade and James fairly well (he seems particularly adept at taking James, who still seems to hate Stevenson, out of his game), and has averaged an efficient six points a game while making two-thirds of his three-pointers.

Barea, meanwhile, has loudly been having a terrible, terrible series. He’s averaging 4.3 points, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 turnovers per game, and has shot 21.7% from the floor and 12.5% from the three-point line. And he hasn’t exactly been making up for it on the defensive end.

Still, there are some possible motivations for Carlisle’s decision here. Stevenson is an efficient scorer, but his offensive game is entirely based around catching and shooting — as ineffective as Barea has been, he forces the defense to move and pay attention to him by constantly dribbling around the perimeter, working pick-and-rolls, darting into the paint, and pulling up for threes if he gets any space.

Miami now has two choices regarding their starting backcourt — take their chances with the glacial Mike Bibby chasing Barea around, or force Wade to expend far more energy on defense than he has when he’s been guarding Stevenson. Kidd, who will be guarding Wade to start the game, isn’t as good of a defender as Stevenson is, but Carlisle may be betting that the best way to slow Wade down on offense is to make him work on the defensive end of the floor.

The Cardinal over Stojakovic decision is easier to make — Peja’s only real NBA skill at this point is shooting, and he hasn’t been making shots, having made a grand total of one field goal and zero threes through the first three games of the Finals. Cardinal isn’t as good of a scorer as Peja is when he’s on, but he can stretch the floor well enough himself and earned the nickname “The Janitor” during his breakout year in Golden State for his blue-collar style of play. (Also, he kind of looks like a janitor.)

As Dirk Nowitzki mentioned after Game 3, Game 4 is virtually a must-win game for the Mavericks — if they lose, they’ll have to win three games in a row to win the finals, with the final two of those games coming in Miami. The fact of the matter is that Miami has outplayed Dallas fairly handily through the first three games of the series, and is one historic collapse away from being up 3-0, so a shakeup from Carlisle shouldn’t really have come out of left field.

  1. david8726 - Jun 7, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    The Heat got away with having Bibby on Derrick Rose to start games for the entire ECF.

    I think they’ll be ok with Bibby on Barea.

    • barkley4life - Jun 7, 2011 at 4:13 PM

      If this is true this is extreme grasping by Carlisle….if the Mavs don’t jump out to a big lead right off the bat Heat are going up 3 to 1 tonight. If this doesn’t pay off their rotation is shot for the rest of the playoffs because Peja’s confidence will be gone and Stevenson will sulk.

      • louderthanwords1 - Jun 7, 2011 at 5:08 PM

        How can you say Stevenson will sulk when he lost his starting job to Beaubois at the end of the season and he never sulked or complained? His minutes became inconsistent and was inactive for some games and all he did was bust his ass and work. His attitude during that time is one of the reasons Carlisle went back to him as the starter at the end of the season when Kidd and Dirk lobbied for Stevenson to be moved back into the starting line up.

  2. rip27 - Jun 7, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Everyone is overstating Stevenson’s effect on Wade. Look at his +\- numbers for the series and the Mavericks have been far better off when he is off the court. HE is too easy to guard for Miami. Dallas is making a desperation play that getting Barea more involved early in the game can help wake him from his slumber. That remains to be seen, but is something the definitely need if going to have any chance of loosening the Miami defense.

    And without some help, Dirk will have nothing left for a game 6 or 7 of this series. While Lebron and Wade are playing a similar number of minutes, they are far more easily conserving their energy sharing the load and defensive attention. Dirk is playing great but forced to exert a great amount of effort and energy to get his offense. Only chance he has to conserver anything would be to completely ignore defense (not that he is very good to begin with, but a lack of effort on that side would still hurt).

    Barea and Terry better begin helping or Mavs will be toast this series. While Dirk might be able to win a game by himself. He is working too hard to be able to win 3 more.

  3. wlubake - Jun 7, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    The move is obvious: don’t have Barrea and Terry on the floor at the same time. Kidd and Stevenson can each guard Wade passibly. They need to play opposite each other, instead of in the same rotation. Terry is a capable point in a pinch and can bring the ball up. My guess is that will be the plan.

    • wlubake - Jun 7, 2011 at 6:48 PM

      BTW – Cardinal makes sense too. Watch the Mavs on offense over the past 3 games and what do you see every possession? Tyson Chandler fighting for a rebound against 3-4 Heat players while the rest of the Mavs roam around the 3-point line. By taking out Peja (another shooter) and putting in Cardinal (a banger), hopefully Dallas can improve their offensive rebounding.

  4. randommofo - Jun 7, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    Don’t worry everyone! The Kidd-Barea backcourt will totally stop DWade

    • artbyrob - Jun 7, 2011 at 8:48 PM

      OMFG, now thats funny, LMFAO!!!!

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