Fresh off of shutting down Derrick Rose, Erik Spoelstra says that LeBron James will try to slow down an even smaller and more elusive player in the NBA Finals. From ESPN: “Forget about all the talk about which Miami Heat player will defend Dirk Nowitzki. Who is going to defend J.J. Barea? Believe it or not, at times it’ll be the Heat’s best defensive player, LeBron James. How much does the Dallas Mavericks’ shifty little guard concern the Heat? They’re actually putting him in the same sentences as the league’s Most Valuable Player. With a straight face. ‘If you don’t treat him with the same type of respect as we did with Derrick Rose, he can really come in and have an impact on the game,’ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ‘I’m sure there will be some possessions where LeBron will be on him.’ OK, so James will also be guarding Nowitzki, likely in the fourth quarters. And Barea plays only about 18 minutes a game. While there is so much attention being paid to who can put a dent in the Nowitzki Express, there’s a reason why Barea is getting a prominent position in Miami’s scouting report. It isn’t just what he does, but what happens to the Mavericks’ offense when he’s in the game. One of coach Rick Carlisle’s most effective weapons during the playoffs has been his shooting/spread offense with Barea playing the equivalent role of Chris Paul.”
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