LeBron and D-Wade dish on DeMarcus, Isaiah and Jimmer. Plus, Cousins shares keys to finding success against the reigning NBA champs.
– In his first career game against the Heat, Isaiah Thomas turned plenty of heads in Miami, connecting on five three-pointers while scoring 20 of his 24 points in the third quarter on Feb. 21, 2012.
“I knew he was playing well, but that was kind of like a coming out party,” said Dwyane Wade with a chuckle.
“He’s one of those little guys who’s just tough to guard. If he’s making his shots from outside, it’s going to be a tough night. We overcame it when we played them last time, but we don’t want him to get that hot again.”
LeBron James says the Washington product continues to play with a chip on his shoulder after being selected with the final pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
“Being passed (by) every team, he’s used that as motivation,” said the 2012 NBA MVP. “(He was) a big-time college player, (but) a lot of people thought he couldn’t do it at this level. He’s used it as fuel and as fire, and he’s played great ball.”
Complimenting the young talent on the Kings roster, Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra recalls being impressed with Thomas and Jimmer Fredette during pre-Draft workouts.
“They had great workouts for us before the Draft,” said Spoelstra. “They have great work ethic, great character, so when you put that together with their talent and what they’ve already accomplished, you get better.”
Wade commends No. 7’s continuous improvement as a sophomore.
“Everyone knows him as a great college player,” he said. “His opportunities came sparingly at first, in his rookie year, but now he’s just getting more opportunity.
“You look at guys like him, J.J. Redick – those kind of guys, they were given a gift to be perfect shooters, and he’s getting more confident and he’s showing that in his play.”
– Spoelstra also praises Kings center DeMarcus Cousins’ combination of size and agility, while Miami’s superstars place No. 15 in the upper echelon of NBA big men.
“He’s an unbelievable talent – I think we all know that,” said James. “He’s one of the best centers we have in this league as far as talent, that goes without saying. I think we all know how capable he is of playing the game.”
“He’s a tough cover – a guy who can shoot outside, take it inside, protects the paint as well, rebounds the ball very well,” affirmed Wade. “He’s one of the best young big men who’s coming up.”
– Cousins – who has averaged 22.8 points and 13.0 rebounds over the last six games – believes a major key to finding success against the Eastern Conference leaders is controlling the glass. Despite scoring 101.8 points per contest, Miami ranks second-to-last in the NBA in rebounding (39.1).
“That’s to our advantage,” said the Kentucky product. “They’re small – they play small-ball – but they have so many other things that are good they can kind of shy away from rebounding.
“They’re a tough team – just with LeBron, Dwyane and (Chris) Bosh, that’s tough in itself, and with the additions, they’re (better),” he added.
“(We have to) try to contain LeBron and ‘D-Wade’ and we can’t let anybody else have a career-game.”