Dallas’ Stevenson calls the Heat “actors”

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The Mavericks may be facing a 2-1 series deficit to the Miami Heat, but that isn’t stopping Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson from offering up some choice words on how he thinks the Heat play the game. ESPN Dallas’ Art Garcia has the story:

DALLAS — Foul or not, Dallas Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson said Miami Heat starsLeBron James and Dwyane Wade do a better job of selling calls than most.

“They’re great actors and they sell it,” Stevenson said Monday afternoon. “That’s what they’re supposed to do.”

We’ve got to take hard fouls,” Stevenson said, “but if you touch them they’re so dramatic you might get a flagrant 2.”

Stevenson added that a hard foul could lead to not just a flagrant foul, but a suspension. Wade is averaging 29 points in the series, with James scoring 20.3.

“It just makes it tough,” Stevenson continued. “They put a lot of pressure on us. If you do one little thing it’s going to be magnified to a big ordeal. I think when they go up and do the dunks, if you take a hard foul, the outcome is going to be pretty bad.”

Although James has been known to sell contact at times during these playoffs and Wade’s on-court exchanges with officials are almost constant, it’s hard to blame Dallas’ 2-1 deficit on unfavorable whistles. The Mavericks have shot significantly more free throws than the Heat through the first three games of the finals, and loose-ball fouls on Dirk Nowitzki late in the game almost allowed Dallas to complete another comeback and steal Game 3.

Stevenson has bad blood with James dating back to 2008, when Stevenson called the two-time MVP “overrated.” For his part, Wade had no comment on Stevenson’s opinion of his on-court acting skills.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

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Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.

Report: Heat signing Jordan Mickey

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Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.

He’s keeping the checks coming.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.

I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).

The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.

Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.