Apparently being a nine-time All-Star and three-time MVP doesn’t earn you a lot of respect from the Brooklyn Nets.
On Wednesday, Brooklyn forward Reggie Evans talked to the media about LeBron James and his Miami Heat squad that won the NBA Championship at the end of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. He was quoted by Stephan Bondy of NYDailyNews.com:
It doesn’t prove nothing. That was a lockout season.
Our team is defending the Miami Heat. If our team has to defend one person, LeBron isn’t going to score nothing. …LeBron is no different from Joe Johnson or Andray Blatche. No different. People need help (on defense). Some people don’t need help. Everybody has to be double-teamed, it doesn’t matter who you are. You just have to stop LeBron in transition.
The Heat face the Nets Wednesday night, and regardless of what Evans does on the court, he’ll have an effect on James, as Miami Heat beat writer Tim Reynolds implied with this tweet:
Tim Reynolds @ByTimReynolds
Thinking LeBron will be slightly inspired if he sees Reggie Evans anywhere near him tonight.2013-1-30 18:49:43
James isn’t just any player, but Evans does have a point. The Nets can game-plan for James—and they should—but winning basketball comes down to playing as a cohesive unit. Stopping James doesn’t guarantee a win.
With Miami employing a lot of small sets this season, James has been seeing considerable action in the paint. The odds of Evans and James squaring off on several occasions are pretty good, and if Evans wants to back up his talk on the court, he’ll have to get the better of him on Wednesday night.
With Brooklyn sitting three games behind Miami in the Eastern Conference playoff race, it’s only natural for rivalries to develop. The Nets have played good basketball this season, and the Heat are in their crosshairs.
If Evans and the Nets can shut down James en route to a victory on Wednesday night, chasing down Miami will start to seem more manageable. Evans took a shot at the bigger, stronger kid on the playground, but he did it with confidence that he and his team will hang tough with James and the Heat on Wednesday night.
With the Eastern Conference playoff race shaping up to be neck-and-neck down the stretch, Brooklyn has a chance to make this contest a statement game against the defending NBA champions. Evans lit the spark and fanned the flames, but he and his team must prove they can play Miami well enough to keep that fire from going out.