Mavericks tweak starters: Barea in, Stevenson out

Down 2-1 in the NBA finals, the Mavericks tried to jump-start

their offense by putting J.J. Barea into the starting lineup in

place of defensive-oriented DeShawn Stevenson for Game 4 against

the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.

Backup center Brendan Haywood also returned to the active list

after missing Game 3 with a hip injury.

Stevenson’s primary job has been to cover Dwyane Wade. Yet he’s

averaged 6.0 points per game, more than Barea.

Barea is averaging only 4.3 points per game against Miami, down

from 8.9 over the previous three rounds of the playoffs. He’s

missed 18 of 23 shots.

Still, his speedy style could help Dallas up the tempo of the

series, one of the changes the Mavs say they need to turn around

the series.

”I’ve just got to do what I’ve got to do,” Stevenson said.

”Made the lineup change and just go out and play. … We’ve got to

worry about stopping D-Wade. The way he got going last game, we’ve

got to give him different looks, have got to try to get the ball

out of his hands.”

Perhaps another reason for the change is having Stevenson coming

off the bench to replace Shawn Marion.

Marion played a team-high 43 minutes in Game 3. If Stevenson can

help cut that down, Marion would be fresher at the end of the

game.

”It’s very difficult to ask him to be in a stance and guard the

best players on the planet for 43 minutes and hey, go score and do

what you do at the other end,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.

”That’s something I should not have allowed to happen in Game

3.”

Haywood strained his right hip during Game 2.

Through rest and treatment, the swelling had gone down enough

that Haywood said Tuesday morning he might return. He was expected

to test his injury by running full speed and changing directions,

but Carlisle said he wasn’t sure whether that had been done.

Carlisle said he expected adrenaline to help push Haywood

through whatever pain he was still feeling.

”The plan is that we’ll give it a shot, and hopefully it will

go well,” Carlisle said. ”But we’ll see. He’s worked hard to

reduce the swelling. He’s had multiple MRIs, all that stuff. So

we’ve worked up to this. We obviously need him.”

Although Haywood had only five points and seven rebounds over 22

minutes the first two games, he’s a reliable backup to starter

Tyson Chandler. Chandler admitted he played tentatively in Game 3

because he feared getting into foul trouble that would have forced

Dallas to rely on third-stringer Ian Mahinmi.

Mahinmi scored two points and drew five fouls in 8 minutes.

Chandler said he expected Mahinmi to play better if needed in Game

4 simply because he’d gotten over any first-game jitters.