Miami HeatÂ starsÂ LeBron JamesÂ andÂ Dwyane WadeÂ have grown tired of what they think are baiting tactics from theÂ Indiana Pacers’Â Danny Granger. James went so far as to call Granger’s ploy “stupid.”
Granger has gotten called for technical fouls in each of the past three games for getting into both James’ and Wade’s faces after fouls. Granger said he doesn’t intend to back down but several times he has appeared to be the one to instigate the confrontation.
“Whatever he’s trying, it is not working,” James said Tuesday before Game 5. “He’s said he’s not scared of LeBron, I want to let (James) know. I guess he’s doing it for his own psyche. It’s stupid.”
Granger said his actions are part of a chip-on-the-shoulder mentality the Pacers have adopted for this series. The Heat were the heavy favorite coming in and Granger said the team feels it has to earn respect.
“I think there is a line and I’m tip-toeing it,” Granger said. “That’s a product of the chip on my shoulder and we have on our shoulder as a team of not being respected. That goes not just for this series, but all year. We had the fourth or fifth best record in the NBA and I think we only had one televised game. Three or four teams that didn’t make the playoffs had more televised games than us. It was just a matter of being disrespected nationally.”
Granger went to chest to chest with James in both Games 2 and 3, once after a play in the post and once after he fouled James in transition. In Game 4 on Sunday, Granger approached Wade after teammateÂ Roy HibbertÂ and Wade got tied up after a hard foul under the basket.
“I’m all for standing up for your guys, but certain things you just can’t keep doing,” Wade said. “My message to Granger was that you just can’t keep running up into people’s faces for altercations. We’re not fighting on this basketball court, so let’s not act like we’re going to fight. We can be physical and do all that, but certain things got to stop. Are you out here to play basketball or are you out here to be a tough guy?”
It has been quite clear that part of the Pacers’ strategy for the series is to get under Wade’s and James’ skin as much as possible. Indiana prefers to play a physical style, especially defensively. Granger admitted after watching replays he realized it was Hibbert who made contact first.
“Maybe it was overreaction, maybe it wasn’t,” Granger said. “I don’t know, but it was in the heat of the moment. I run to the defense of my teammates so often. Sometimes they’re in the wrong, sometimes they’re in the right. But I’m blinded by the fact that they’re my teammates so I just automatically run to their defense.”
James said if Granger is looking for a fight he won’t get one from the Heat.
“Nobody is fighting on the basketball court. C’mon,” he said. “I’m not going to fight because I mean too much to our team and I can’t afford to be suspended for a game or do something stupid to get thrown out of a playoff game.”