(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed previews Game 4 of the Dallas Mavericks' first-round playoff series versus the Oklahoma City Thunder as the defending champions try to stave off elimination.
Game 4 Preview: (2) Thunder (3-0) at (7) Mavericks (0-3)
DALLAS — “Why not be the first team to do something great?”
That’s the question Dallas Mavericks sixth man Jason Terry asked himself and his teammates after falling into a 0-3 hole in their first-round series versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Suffering a 95-79 defeat on Thursday night, the defending champion Mavericks now find themselves in a position from which no team in NBA history has ever come back. Still, despite a disappointing showing at home, the Mavs enter Game 4 on Saturday night confident they can be the first team to rally with four wins to continue defense of their title.
“Win the next game, plain and simple,” eight-time All-Star Vince Carter said of the team’s mindset heading into Saturday night as the Mavs try to stave off elimination. “Win the next game or it’s over. I don’t really care what history says and I really don’t care about numbers. At some point someone is going to defy the odds, so why not try for it?”
“The focus is very narrow, it’s on one game,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added. “To keep playing, we’ve gotta work the process, we’ve gotta play our game and put ourselves in a position to win and we’ve gotta finish the game. And then we can move on to Game 5.”
In order to do so, however, the Mavs will have to bounce back from Thursday night’s lopsided defeat, when three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant exploded for his best game of the series.
Scoring 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting and 4-of-6 from three to go along with six assists, Durant set the tone from the opening tipoff while leading five Thunder players in double figures. Meanwhile, after hitting 12-of-28 from behind the three-point arc, Oklahoma City also finished the night outshooting the Mavs from the floor, 42.4 percent to 34.2 percent, leading by as much as 26 en route to the win.
“Nobody really had a good game for us and they took it to us on the other end. Everybody made shots and we just picked a tough time to get nothing going on the offensive end,” Mavs leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki explained after scoring a team-high 17 points on just 6-of-15 shooting.
He added: “Our goal was obviously to come out swinging and create energy, get the building going. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively. … But you’ve just gotta give them credit, they threw a heck of a game at us.”
Now, the Mavs will try to force the series back to Oklahoma City for at least one more game, looking to treat their hometown fans to a better performance. The reigning titleholders are also keeping a game-by-game approach despite needing to win four straight to advance to the second round.
“We can’t win four at a time. All we need is to win one and go from there,” newcomer Delonte West simply said.
“We have every intention of going out there and making a stand and defending our court. … We’ve gotta defend our court in Game 4 and get back on the plane,” Carlisle concluded.
Note: The Mavericks will now try to stave off elimination on Saturday night when the series continues with Game 4 taking place at the American Airlines Center, airing locally on TXA 21 and nationally on TNT at 6:30 p.m. CT. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a series.
WEAR BLUE – Wear it…or we’ll give you a free T-shirt to wear. All fans will receive an “ALL IN” shirt at their seat when they arrive.
GET TO YOUR SEAT EARLY – All fans coming to the game are encouraged to get to their seats early.
WATCH PARTIES – Watch parties will continue on Monday Night, doors will open one hour before tip off. Watch parties are free, but there is a $5 parking fee in the Platinum Garage. For more info visit mavs.com.
The Mavs-Thunder first-round series schedule is as follows:
Game 4: Thunder at Mavericks; Saturday May 5 at 6:30 p.m. CT on TNT/TXA 21
Game 5: Mavericks at Thunder; Monday May 7 at 7 p.m. CT on TNT/TXA 21
Game 6: Thunder at Mavericks; Thursday May 10 TBA
Game 7: Mavericks at Thunder; Saturday May 12 TBA