Miami Heat forward LeBron James has one message for Danny Granger.
It’s not going to work.
Granger, the Indiana Pacers’ starting forward, has drawn three technical fouls in this best-of-seven series in the Eastern Conference semifinals. It’s been his way of showing the Pacers are unafraid of the Heat, and perhaps an attempt at shaking James’ confidence.
James said Tuesday there is absolutely no chance of that happening.
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“Whatever he’s trying, it’s not working,” James said. “I don’t know if he’s trying to do it for his own self confidence … I guess he’s doing it for his own psyche. It’s stupid.”
James and Granger have been the focal points of these feuding teams during the series. The two had to be separated in Games 2 and 3. Granger then was whistled for a technical in Game 4 when reacting to Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Pacers center Roy Hibbert getting into a mini-skirmish.
Granger said his willingness to play the role of tough guy is because he feels there is a lack of respect for the Pacers, who are tied in the series at 2-2 entering Tuesday’s Game 5 at AmericanAirlines Arena. Indiana was virtually ignored on the national radar despite earning the No. 3 seed in the East.
“I think there is a line and I’m tip-toeing it,” Granger said. “But I think it’s a product of the chip I think I have on my shoulder, we have on the shoulder as a team, of not being respected, not just this series but all year. We had the fourth- or fifth-best record in the NBA and I think we had maybe one televised game. They had three or four teams that didn’t make the playoffs that had more televised games than us.”
Wade and Granger exchanged words in Sunday’s game in Indianapolis. Wade said he just wanted to alert Granger of perhaps taking things too personal.
“I’m all about toughness, all about standing up for my guys,” Wade said. “Certain things, you just can’t keep doing. You just can’t keep running into people’s faces.”
Despite the developing story line, James said the Heat’s focus remains on what it’s been throughout the season: winning a championship.
“It’s not going to work, whatever he’s trying,” James said. “It’s not getting me off my game, either. I don’t know what he’s trying, honestly. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m here to play basketball. Nobody is fighting on the basketball court. No one is going to fight. I’m not going to fight. I mean too much to our team and I can’t afford to be suspended for a game or do something stupid to get me kicked out of a playoff game.”
Still, the series has provides its share of intense moments.
It began when Wade committed a flagrant foul in Game 2 when he pushed Darren Collison from behind on a fastbreak. In the same game, James and Granger drew double technical fouls after getting entangled under the basket.
“It’s been altercations that you can look at and say probably won’t happen during the regular season and probably wouldn’t happen if you were playing outside basketball,” Wade said. “It’s the playoffs and emotions get high and things happen. We continue to play the game. We’re not out here to fight, we’re out here to play basketball.”
In Game 3, they got in each other’s face after Granger grabbed James on a breakaway attempt. Granger was responding to an apparent elbow thrown by James. Then there was Heat veteran Juwan Howard confronting Pacers rookie Lance Stephenson before Game 4. Stephenson the previous game made a choking gesture from the bench when James missed a free throw.
“It’s not personal for us,” Heat forward Shane Battier said. “It’s all business. We don’t care what anyone thinks about us. We want to win basketball games, that’s why we’re here. All the extraneous noise is for other teams, not us.”