By John Schuhmann
MIAMI, June 14 -- Don't worry about the Mavs. They aren't suffering a hangover today after blowing a 13-point lead with six and a half minutes to go in Game 3. They've faced adversity before and they've come through just fine.
In Game 1 against San Antonio, they executed poorly down the stretch, not scoring from the field in the final four minutes and taking a terrible shot in the final possession to hand the opener to the Spurs. They then blew out the defending champs in Game 2.
In Game 7, they blew a 20-point lead and trailed in the final minute before winning in overtime.
In Game 1 against Phoenix, they led by nine with three and a half minutes to go and lost in overtime. They recovered to win the next two games and after getting blown out in Game 4, they took Games 5 and 6 to advance to the Finals.
"One loss doesn't make a series," Jason Terry said. "We're going to watch the film, we're going to practice today, we're going to learn from it, just like we always do, and bounce back."
And don't think that they're any less sure of themselves than they were after taking Games 1 and 2 fairly easily at home.
"Our confidence doesn't waver," Terry claimed. "That's the thing about us. We're mentally strong."
So, the media might go a bit overboard about the fourth-quarter collapse. Perhaps, they want to create a story where there isn't one by overdramatizing how devestating a loss like that can be. Momentum will be a much-discussed topic. As will "the carry-over effect." Avery Johnson thinks his team will be able to put Game 3 behind them and learn from their mistakes.
"We normally respond well," Johnson said. "We try to make whatever necessary adjustments to give our team the best opportunity to have success."
Assistant coach Del Harris sums up his team's thoughts on Game 3 as well as anyone.
"That one last night was not a devestating loss," Harris said. "To me, it was a disappointing loss, but not devestating by any means."
Perfecting the Pick and Roll
Then the Heat started to come back and the pick-and-roll wasn't working. On a couple of occasions, it was just a case of Terry not making the shots he had made earlier.
"I had two or three that were dead-on and I had just hit two," Terry said. "The shots just didn't fall."
There was more to it than that, though. Assistant coach Del Harris believes that Miami stepped up the defensive intensity in those final six minutes.
"I thought they defended better," Harris said. "We didn't execute as well to get the proper angles and they got real phyisical and were able to push us off the preferred angles. I thought they did a good job with that. There was quite a bit of contact going on, but you have to withstand that."
How Miami defends the pick-and-roll will be a key to Game 4. We know that the Mavs will not stop running it, as Devin Harris explained.
"Obviously, we know we can be successful with the pick and roll, especially when you put Shaq in it," the point guard told us. "We kind of got away from that, and started going for some other things and that's when they started to get back in the game a little bit."
Still Behind Their Star
The Mavs are not worried about Dirk Nowitzki after he missed the game-tying free throw last night.
Avery Johnson: "We'll take Dirk in that situation a hundred times. I don't even blink in that situation ... So we still love him. I'm not going to take away any of his per diem or anything like that."
Jason Terry: "Dirk is tough. He gets that shot 10 more times, he makes all 10. It could have been any of one of us in that position last night. It's not his fault."
Devin Harris: "We're not worried about Dirk. Dirk's fine. He's only human. Everybody misses a shot here and there. He puts enough pressure on himself. There's nothing that we can say to make him feel any better."
In One Way, the Pressure is Off
Josh Howard, on the Mavs losing for the first time when he scores 20 points or more:
"I'm just glad it's out of the way. I'm glad we finally lost a game so we can stop talking about it. It's not been a big deal to me. I've been doing other things to help my team win all year. Score 20, make 10 rebounds, it doesn't matter. We're going to try to win the game."
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