Pride and desperation can win a game in the NBA Playoffs. But can it win a series?
I don’t think so and, unfortunately, we’ll see proof Thursday night at American Airlines Center. What the Mavericks pulled off in Game 2 Monday night in Oklahoma City was a minor miracle.
Duplicating the feat, however, will be even more difficult.
The good news is that Dirk Nowitzki is good to go despite a painful bone bruise in his knee and that they get back Deron Williams, J.J. Barea and David Lee from injuries. The bad news: Their game plan has zero margin for error.
The Mavs played almost a perfect game Monday and still had to get a little luck – Stephen Adams’ tip-in came a breath too late – to win by one point.
Head coach Rick Carlisle’s game plan is genius. Slow the pace. Walk the ball up the court. You can’t beat the more talented, athletic Thunder in a track meet, so turn the contest into a deliberate, physical bar-room brawl. The Mavs scored 85 points in a playoff game, and won. Don Nelson must’ve choked on his cigar in Maui.
The Thunder, of course, were over-confident after their 38-point cakewalk in Game 1.
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In Game 2 they settled for difficult shots early in the shot clock. They rarely moved the ball. And, let’s face it, they had an epically off night. If the Mavs have to count on Kevin Durant to miss another 26 shots tonight in order to win, forget it. If he doesn’t score 30 points I’ll be shocked.
And down the stretch he and Russell Westbrook missed 12 of their last 13 shots. That won’t happen again this spring, if ever.
I hope the Mavs can pull it off. They’ll need more healthy bodies and Dirk to be on target and Raymond Felton and Justin Anderson and everybody else to max out their effort and execution. Even then, they’ll need some more fortunate bounces just to keep the game close.
“To me they're still the heavy favorite,” Nowitzki said after Wednesday’s practice at AAC. “It's obvious with their talent, with probably two of the best five players we've got in the world right now. Banged up as we are, we're here to fight. We're here to make this a series, but they're going to come in ready to play obviously. They're going to hit us early with some waves of energy, with scoring and defense. We got to be ready early on to withstand that. Once we do that and hopefully our crowd will be great and push us. Hopefully it'll be a close game and we'll be in the same position as we were the other night.”
Let the grinding begin.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.