The Dallas Mavericks are preparing to play the biggest game of the season Wednesday night.
After dominating the first two games of their playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Dallas Mavericks struggled and lost Games 3 and 4 in the American Airlines Center, giving Game 5 in L.A. an almost must-win feel in the best-of-seven series.
“I just think overall we have to play a better game of basketball,” said Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle. “It’s been a very difficult game defensively and we’ve got to do better.”
Hoping to do better while hoping their best player feels better. Mavericks star guard Luka Doncic has been dealing with a strained neck that has impacted his ability to look and go left in the last two games, but Carlisle believes the 22-year old All-Star is trending in the right direction for Wednesday night.
“Very painful, but he’s done a little better each day,” Carlisle said. “These last two days have helped, but I don’t know if he’s 80%, 85, 75, that’d be something you’d have to ask him. But it does appear he is feeling better.”
Luka feeling better with the Mavs trying to not feel the pressure mounting, as the odds are now heavily on a Los Angeles series win according to the experts in Las Vegas and the media, though those predictions are not impacting the Mavs psyche, according to Carlisle.
“All that external noise is just that,” Carlisle said. “This time of year I try not to look too much at the papers or internet, because you can get distracted. The playoffs are difficult. A seven-game series is a seven-game series.”
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A seven-game series tied at two games apiece, with the winner of Wedneday night’s crucial Game 5 matchup at 9 p.m. in the driver’s seat in trying to move on to the second round of the NBA playoffs.