NBA's road warriors look for Game 4 W
No. 2 Dallas Mavericks (1-2) at No. 7 San Antonio Spurs (2-1)
After 41 games away from Big D during the regular season, the Dallas Mavericks are a confident crew on the road. That confidence will be needed once again, as the Mavericks head into Game 4 of their first round playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs down two games to one, with Sunday's contest on the Spurs' home floor.
The Mavericks' first road game of the postseason, a 94-90 loss in Game 3 on Friday night, didn't reflect the regular season success that the squad displayed en route to collecting an NBA-best 27 road wins. An early deficit forced the Mavs into an uphill climb for most of the night. Though Dallas did stage a comeback, sparked by a 19-2 run in the third quarter, the team simply didn't have enough to sustain the offensive assault down the stretch. Then San Antonio's timely scoring and fourth-quarter execution finished the Mavs off.
"It's not great always having to battle back," forward Dirk Nowitzki said after a 35-point performance in the loss. "I thought when we were down seven points (in the first quarter) we battled. But we still would like to start better.
"We battled the whole way. We had some tough calls and turnovers, but we will play again on Sunday and see what happens."
If Sunday's game is going to end with a different result, the Mavericks will need to find an answer for Spurs guard Tony Parker. Though Tim Duncan's 25 points led the Spurs, Parker's 23 impacted the scoreboard the most.
The All-Star point guard, who has played as San Antonio's sixth man in the series, slammed the door on the Mavericks in the fourth quarter with jump shot after jump shot in the final minutes. Meanwhile, the Mavs came away with nothing on crucial late-game possessions.
"Parker made three jump shots in a row to seal the game. You just have to give them credit, they made big shots down the stretch. We gave it away. Down the stretch, we had too many empty possessions," Nowitzki said.
"(Parker) just ended up late-clock, you take the guy nearest where you're at and you've got to defend him," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He hit a couple of tough, basically one-on-one shots...They weren't easy shots and they were contested. But he's the kind of player that can make those plays."
While the Mavericks must regroup and look for a better defensive strategy for Parker, the Spurs will have to do the same for containing Mavs reserve guard J.J. Barea, who tallied 14 points off the bench in Game 3.
The dynamic 6-footer earned his coach's confidence with stellar play in the first half. In the second half, Carlisle didn't hesitated to go back to Barea, as the Puerto Rico native started the third quarter at the two guard spot and never left the floor until the game was no longer in doubt.
"I was just going with a group that was going good. We needed penetration," Carlisle said of the decision. "(Barea) made good things happen. Offensively and defensively, he was active. He helped us when he was out there."
"He can penetrate, score or get the ball to someone for a three. He was really good (Friday night)," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Barea's play.
No matter how well Barea played, the Mavericks weren't able to get over the hump and get the win. Now, the Mavericks will be out to tie the series at 2-2 before traveling back to Dallas for Game 5. But the Mavs know getting a win in the AT&T Center is easier said than done.
"We knew they were going to be tough to beat at home. They have been a tough home team over the year," Nowitzki said.
But the Mavericks just have to be better than the hometown Spurs for one game.
Game 4 will air nationally on TNT and locally on KTXA and KTXA HD at 6 p.m. CT Sunday evening. The series swings back up to Dallas for Game 5, which will air locally on KTXA and KTXA HD at a time not yet announced. Reserve your tickets by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Note: The Mavs-Spurs First Round series schedule is as follows:
Game 4 – Sun April 25 Dallas at San Antonio 6:00PM TXA21/ TNT
Game 5 * Tue April 27 San Antonio at Dallas TBD TXA21/ TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 29 Dallas at San Antonio TBD TXA21/ TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 1 San Antonio at Dallas TBD TXA21/ TNT
Mavs.com has introduces a new, interactive webcast entitled "Technical Foul," hosted by Mavs television broadcasters Mark Followill and Bob Ortegel. The second live-streamed broadcast will be Monday, April 26 at 12:30 p.m. CT, recapping Game 1 and previewing Game 2 of the series. Earl K. Sneed will also talk with fans and answer questions via a live chat during the show. Tune in for exclusive Mavs talk with the people that know the team the best.