Practice Report (05/02/12)
Earl K. Sneed reports from the Dallas Mavericks’ Wednesday practice as the team prepares for Game 3 of the first-round matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder while trying to climb out of an 0-2 hole.
Practice Report (05/02/12)
DALLAS — “Game 3 is Game 7.”
Those were the brief words sixth man Jason Terry spoke as the defending champion Dallas Mavericks wrapped up Wednesday’s practice before heading into an all-important third showdown in their first-round series against the second-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.
After falling in Games 1 and 2 on the road by a combined four points, the Mavericks returned to Dallas looking to build some much-needed momentum with Game 3 at the American Airlines Center. And while preparing to avoid a 0-3 hole, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle emphasized the importance of going into Thursday night with the proper deposition while needing to seize two opportunities — Games 3 and 4 — in front of the home crowd.
“Well, we’ve got a great crowd. We need them to really bring it,” Carlisle said as the series shifts to Big D. “We’re playing a good team. We just had two tough games in a building that was really loud, and so we’ve gotta reciprocate. That’s something that can help our energy and we need them. … We’ve gotta win these two games at home. That’s our job now. They’ve done it at their place and now we’ve gotta do our job here.”
“There are no concerns here, it’s just basketball,” point guard Jason Kidd added. “You know, we gave two good efforts in Oklahoma City and came up short, and now it’s our turn to protect home.”
The coach also echoed Terry’s sentiments, acknowledging that after two tough showings in OKC, the Mavs will have to approach Thursday night’s contest as a must-win situation in order to win four of the next five and eventually the series.
Meanwhile, Carlisle and his players took time out to congratulate former Mav Tyson Chandler on his pending Defensive Player of the Year nod.
As the catalyst behind last season’s title team, Chandler sparked an intensity that led to the Mavericks becoming one of the best defensive units in the league. This season, however, that duty has fallen on forward Shawn Marion’s shoulders.
“I thought Marion was deserving,” Carlisle said. “But hey, Tyson did a terrific job for New York and really helped change a lot of what they were doing defensively, so he’s deserving. There’s a lot of guys deserving of consideration, but I felt Marion, because of diversity, which he’s been doing all year, guarding four or five positions, really should have been in the conversation.”
He added: “In my opinion, [Marion] is top 2 or 3 guys in the league defensively. … The fact that we were the top defensive team in the West almost the entire year without Chandler, and a lot of it had to do with his on-the-ball defense, not just as a helper blocking shots off the ball at the five position. But he’s guarding point guards, two guards, small forwards, power forwards and at times switching on to centers.”
Already the defensive spark behind holding three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant to 15-of-44 shooting through two games in the series, Marion was arguably a snub for the award that his former teammate will receive Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Mavericks’ defensive specialist could assume more responsibilities heading into Game 3, as his team looks for a way to slow down All-Star lead guard Russell Westbrook after games of 28 points and 29 points on 52.3 percent shooting.
“I’m not going to say what we’re gonna do matchup-wise, but we’ve gotta have a lot of guys ready to play [Westbrook],” Carlisle explained. “[Delonte] West is a good defender, Marion is a possibility, Kidd’s gonna guard him and we’re gonna be in a zone scrambling a lot. I mean, that’s where he’s been getting us a lot is in our zone stuff and some of those situations. So, we’ve been working on that, but he’s not the only guy that’s dangerous. I mean, they’ve got other guys that’s dangerous also.”
Note: The Mavs-Thunder series continues on Thursday night with Game 3 taking place at the American Airlines Center, airing locally on TXA 21 and nationally on TNT at 8:30 p.m. CT.
The Mavs-Thunder first-round series schedule is as follows:
Game 3: Thunder at Mavericks; Thursday May 3 at 8:30 p.m. CT on TNT/TXA 21
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