Focused Mavs try to force Game 7
(2) Dallas Mavericks at (7) San Antonio Spurs (3-2 Spurs' lead)
If you listen closely, you can still hear a heartbeat ticking in the Dallas Mavericks' locker room. The Mavs still have a very strong pulse as they enter the AT&T Center for a Game 6 showdown with the San Antonio Spurs.
Sitting just one loss await from ending their season, the Mavericks showed both the Spurs and the rest of the basketball universe that the squad from Big D is still very much alive. Dallas' 103-81 win on the American Airlines Center floor in Game 5 of the series not only staved off elimination, it also stole some much-needed momentum away from the Spurs. Though San Antonio still holds a 3-2 series advantage, the Mavs made it clear to the Spurs that they are in for a fight.
"Right now, we're in a position where we have to fight. They're up 3-2. We win (in Game 6) and we'll put a lot of pressure on them," center Brendan Haywood said.
"Our guys are not going to mail it in," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle added. "There is a lot of pride on the line in every game. The series isn't over, even though a lot of people are assuming that it is."
Now the matchup swings back to San Antonio, where the Mavericks will be out for an encore performance while looking to force a Game 7 back in Dallas. But if the Mavericks are to take their winning show on the road, then they will also need Caron Butler's primetime performance in Game 5 to travel down south.
Butler's playoff career-high 35 points and his 11 rebounds impacted the game from the opening tip. The former All-Star finished the night by connecting on 12-of-24 from the field, 3-of-8 from 3-point range and a near perfect 8-of-9 at the foul line. His series breakthrough has allowed the Mavericks to fight another day.
"I don't know what got into him, but we're going to need it next game," Haywood said of Butler's career playoff-best.
Butler wasn't the only one in full affect.
The Dallas defense also grounded the Spurs' offensive attack, holding San Antonio to just 36 percent shooting on the night. Meanwhile, the Mavericks turned defensive stops into transition scores, finishing with a 23-8 advantage in fast-break points.
"It is pretty obvious that it is going to be defense and the ability to get the ball in transition where good things can happen for us. We did a great job of that (Tuesday night)," Carlisle said.
Domination inside also went the Mavs' way, taking a 52-41 rebounding edge and outscoring the Spurs 19-9 in second-chance points. Perhaps more importantly, Dallas' 42-30 advantage in points in the paint came off of 20 total assists, compared to just 11 helpers for San Antonio.
"What you saw (in Game 5) was the ball moving from side to side, and we got exactly what we wanted," Butler said.
Now, the Mavericks prepare to head into the Alamo City, fully expecting to see the same Spurs squad that won Games 2, 3 and 4 in the series.
"You have to think they're going to be fired up down there. We've just got to go down there and win one," forward Dirk Nowitzki said.
Game 6 will air nationally on TNT and locally on KTXA and KTXA HD at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday night. If the Mavericks should falter, then season comes to a crashing halt. If they win, Game 7 will be back in Dallas on Saturday.
"I don't want to go home," Butler said emphatically. "We want to bring this thing back to Dallas."
The Mavs-Spurs first round series schedule is as follows:
Game 6 * Thu April 29 Dallas at San Antonio 7 p.m. CT TXA21/ TNT
Game 7 * Sat May 1 San Antonio at Dallas TBD TXA21/ TNT
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