Heading into Tuesday night’s crucial Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals, Miami Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade lashed out at Pacers forward Danny Granger over his "tough guy" tactics and vowed they would not be baited into a fight.
Granger, who leads Indiana with 18 points per game in the playoffs, has been hit with technical fouls in the past three games, repeatedly getting in the face of James and Wade throughout the series.
Granger has drawn the defensive assignment on James for most of the four games but was torched in Sunday’s Heat win as the league MVP put up 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.
As the series shifts back to Miami tied at two games apiece, James taunted Granger, calling his strategy "stupid" and adding, "whatever he’s trying, it is not working."
With Miami already missing power forward Chris Bosh for the past three games, James made clear he will not retaliate against the 29-year-old Granger.
"Nobody is fighting on the basketball court, c’mon," James said, according to ESPN. "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."
Wade, who has struggled in the series and had his left knee drained before a disastrous 2-of-13 shooting performance in Game 3, echoed his teammate’s sentiments on Granger, who declared before Game 4 that the Pacers wanted the Heat to know the series was going to be a "fight."
"You just can’t keep running up into people’s faces for altercations," said Wade, who bounced back in Game 4 with 30 points on 13-of-23 shooting.
"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?"