Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson is known for being one of the most temperamental and emotional players in the entire NBA. But Stephenson plans on keeping his emotions in check against the Miami Heat, a team that has gotten under Stephenson’s skin before. Via NBA.com:
In Miami’s March 26 visit to Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season, Stephenson got two technical fouls and an ejection midway through the fourth quarter. He’s the guy who talked jokingly before this series about trying to wear out Dwyane Wade‘s sore knee, only to have it generate a minor controversy.
In fact, Stephenson is excitable enough that you sense the Heat almost count on him to spill over at some point, possibly goading him in hopes of making that happen.
Fortunately for Indiana, after multiple talks with teammates and coaches, the fourth-year guard is aware of it. He claims to have it under control.
“Uh, playing against the Heat, I’ve got to calm down my little antics,” Stephenson said Monday afternoon after Pacers practice. “So I decided I’m not gonna do none of that. I’m just going to stay poised and just play with my team.”
Like a lot of players, Stephenson believes that his emotions fuel his game. So might putting them on a leash stifle his play?
“I mean, when I do some dances or stuff and get the crowd involved, I actually play better,” he said. “But if it’s gonna help my teammates and it helps me stay in the game, I’m definitely not going to do that.”
Playing muzzled in Indiana’s past two games, however, hasn’t hurt Stephenson. Both in the opener against the Heat and in the Game 6 clincher against Washington, he had 17 points and eight assists, shooting a combined 16-of-25. The talks with Vogel, the reminders from fellow Pacers look to be paying off.
“He’s learned to be a professional,” Paul George said of Stephenson. “He’s just an emotional person. That’s what we need, though. We need a guy with that energy, that toughness.
“He gets out of hand sometimes, but we can live with most of it.”