A 4-11 mark over a team’s last 15 games will create some unrest at any NBA outpost. That such a mark is currently the swoon the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in ramps up that angst all the more. With all that said, tonight’s game against the Pacers (7:30 ET, NBA League Pass) is big for Cleveland for a myriad of reasons as a loss would give Indiana the season series and a tie-breaker edge for the Central Division crown.
In the last Cavs-Pacers matchup (which took place in Indianapolis), Indiana forward Lance Stephenson irritated LeBron James all night long with his antics and his play. As tonight’s showdown with the Cavs in Cleveland nears, Stephenson is aware he’ll be the target of Cavs fans’ ire all night long, writes Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star:
Stephenson expects to be a target for Cavaliers fans Friday night at Quicken Loans Center.
“I’m the person you love to hate,” said Stephenson following Thursday’s practice. “I don’t get no cheers when I go to any other arena, so when I come home it just feels great. It’s motivation every time; to get the crowd mad, to try to get under the crowd and the team’s skin.”
“Just guard him [LeBron] tough, get into him. Put a hand into his face every time he shoots. Be active on him. Keep him guessing. Play him off sometimes, play him up sometimes. Make him feel you. He’s a good player. He’s smart, he makes great decisions. You’re not going to get him to that point that I got him last game, every game. You got to approach the game differently every time.“
Stephenson said he rarely talks trash to James, because he never responds.
“Never,” said Stephenson. “I wonder what that means?
“The most he probably said, was, ‘Man, what’s wrong with you?’ Other than that, no type of conversation. His goal is probably to stay focused. Not let me get into his head.”
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