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Ten Before Tip: NBA News from Monday

POSTED: Apr 28, 2014 10:15 PM ET


• After a thrilling Game 3 victory over San Antonio on Saturday, in which Vince Carter hit the game-winning 3-pointer as time expired, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said his team has to avoid a letdown tonight in Game 4. "We've had a day and a half to avoid it," he said. "It's something that's a natural thing that can't happen, that does happen. We've just got to fight it. The highs of winning and the lows of losing create two different reactions. ... We've felt both in this series, as have they."

• When the time came, it wasn't 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki or go-to fourth-quarter scorer, Monta Ellis, who got the call for the last-second attempt -- it was Carter, Dallas' sixth man, which speaks to the depth of the Mavericks scoring options. "I preach having a roster full of go-to guys for that very reason," Carlisle said. "As great as Dirk is, as great as LeBron James is, as great as Kevin Durant is ... you've got to have people around those guys who can make plays. Because teams can take one guy away."

• The Spurs have shut down Nowitzki, holding the future Hall of Famer to just 15 points per game early in the series. "He was 7-of-13 last game, that's over 50 percent," Carlisle said. "I'd say the shots are falling.They're one of the best teams at making it hard on a particular guy. They've been dealing with him long before I got here." With Nowitzki off to a slow start, Ellis has picked up the slack, pouring in 25 points per game in the last two contests.

• Turnovers have been a telling stat early in the Mavs-Spurs series. One of the league's best teams at limiting miscues, Dallas has made just 29 turnovers in the first three games while San Antonio has turned it over 36 times in the last two games alone.

• San Antonio will be in desperation mode tonight, as only eight teams in NBA history have come back from 3-1 deficits to win a series. Phoenix is 2006 was the last team to do it, taking down the Lakers. The Mavericks are 8-1 all time in playoff series they led 2-1.

• Pacers owner Herb Simon issued a statement calling recent racially charged statements attributed to Clippers owner Donald Sterling "appalling, offensive and totally contrary to my core beliefs and everyone in our entire organization." The statement added Simon was confident NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will "arrive at a solution that addresses the seriousness of this situation."

• As well as Paul George has played for Indiana with four straight double-doubles, his defense against Jeff Teague could ultimately prove the key to the series as the Pacers host the Atlanta Hawks tonight in Game 5, with the series tied 2-2. In two Atlanta wins, Teague has averaged 25 points and attempted 16 free throws. In two Indiana wins, Teague has averaged 14 points and attempted four free throws. "I like the percentages we're holding him to but he's an electrifying guard that can break loose at any time," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "I don't think as long as this series is going on we're going to feel comfortable where we're at with him."

• Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said George's defense has had an impact but hasn't changed the approach. "Paul George is obviously a very good defender but Jeff and our group are still looking for the same opportunities, still playing aggressively, we're going to come and screen for him, we're going to play pick-and-roll, he's going to give it up, he's going to get it back and we're going to kind of stick with what we've been doing," he said. "We've got to screen even better, Jeff's got to cut harder off the ball. Everything you do has probably got to be a little bit better but in the playoffs that's true no matter who's matching up with who."

• Hawks power forward Paul Millsap has also vexed the Pacers, averaging 21.8 points and 7.8 free-throw attempts per game. Roy Hibbert has drawn the primary defensive assignment against Millsap. "We're looking at a couple different things for Plan Bs," Vogel said, "but for the most part do what we're doing better."

• Pacers players expressed differing opinions on whether they would continue to play if they were in the Clippers' shoes. Hibbert called it "a sick situation" but said he likely would play because he wouldn't want to deprive arena workers of their livelihoods. George Hill, on the other hand, said he would play. "My season would've been over with," Hill said. "It's bigger than money. It's bigger than basketball."

• The death of Jack Ramsay hit the Pacers hard. Ramsay was their coach from 1986-88, ending a six-year playoff drought and delivering the first postseason game victory in NBA franchise history. Team President Larry Bird called Ramsay "a great man" and said his contributions to the game "will endure forever." Vogel was mentored by Jim O'Brien, who was Ramsay's son-in-low, and referred to Ramsay as "my mentor's mentor" and "a grandfather figure." Ramsay was the first hire of Donnie Walsh, then in his first season as general manager. "I knew he was a great coach," Walsh said, "but once I got to know him, he was a better man."

• Indiana will start its usual lineup of Hill, Lance Stephenson, George, David West and Hibbert. Andrew Bynum and Solomon Hill are inactive.

• Atlanta counters with Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Millsap and Pero Antic. Gustavo Ayon, Al Horford and John Jenkins are inactive.

• Charlotte's chances at picking up a win tonight in Game 4 of the playoff series with Miami took a big hit earlier today when the Bobcats said Al Jefferson would not play. Jefferson, who leads the Bobcats in scoring (18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds), has had his play limited since he strained the plantar fascia in his left foot in the first quarter of Game 1 in Miami, April 20. "Al Jefferson won't play tonight," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said pregame. "One game between games just wasn't enough. He tried hard, but won't be able to go. Our medical staff is great and did all they could." Clifford will start Bismack Biyombo in place of Jefferson and continue to use Cody Zeller in his role with the second team. The Heat say they're disappinted that Jefferson won't be in the lineup. "We would prefer that he play tonight," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Now there's an unknown and you don't want there to be a spark. We have to make sure we get after it tonight and not get caught."

• The Bobcats hope there is no letdown with Jefferson out. "We had a great shoot around," Clifford said. "It's not easy to be down 3-0 and to also be without your best offensive player is tough. We work real hard. I've been very proud of how we've fought all year long and I won't expect any less tonight."

• The Heat have the opportunity tonight to become the first team to win a first-round series. Miami has started out 3-0 in each of the previous three first round series and won the first round matchup in each of those years. The Heat have won 19 consecutives games against the Bobcats, who are searching for the first playoff win in franchise history. The Charlotte franchise's on-court identity as the Bobcats could come to a close tonight as the team will reclaim the Hornets nickname for the 2014-15 season.

• LeBron James will be a huge part of the Heat's game plan tonight. James has been dominant against Charlotte this season having notched a career-high scoring effort and averaging 37 points of the course of the team's first seven meetings this year. The Heat know that a win tonight will allow them extra rest before the second round begins. '

• Spoelstra indicated that the Heat would most likely "do something" during the course of the game in response to comments released over the weekend attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. The Bobcats made no inidcations of such a move prior to the game.

• Miami starters: LeBron James, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers. Charlotte starters:Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh McRoberts, Bismack Biyombo, Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker.