The Dallas Mavericks will be shaking things up a bit in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night. Needing a win to avoid facing elimination in Game 5, head coach Rick Carlisle has decided to start J.J. Barea in place of DeShawn Stevenson. Furthermore, Brian Cardinal will be ahead of Peja Stojakovic in the rotation tonight off the bench.
SB Nation's Tom Ziller offered some insight into these moves by the Mavs.
The shake-up is a bit stunning, as Stevenson is the only Maverick who has had any bit of success guarding Dwyane Wade in the NBA Finals. Jason Kidd will move over to check Wade, who is averaging 29 points per game on 56 percent shooting in the series. While Rick Carlisle has played Barea substantial minutes when Wade is in the game, it hasn't exactly worked. You saw Wade's numbers. He's scorching Kidd.
The Cardinal ascension is just odd; the wily veteran known affectionately as The Custodian for his penchant for dirty work at the expense of skilled plays will likely look to keep Miami off-balance and provide help defense at the rim.
At the very least, Stojakovic's minutes will be reduced. Given how poorly he played in very limited time in Game 3, this is likely a good thing.
Still, starting Barea seems odd. He offered very little off the bench in Game 3 and came off as reckless with the basketball. Barea and the rest of the Mavericks' secondary players will have to show a much better effort in Game 4, otherwise they'll stare elimination in the face in Game 5.
We'll see how Carlisle's moves pan out tonight in Game 4, with tipoff scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT.