With a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals and an impending home game tonight as a chance to close out, it might be tempting for the Mavericks to peek ahead at the NBA Finals.
But with Jason Kidd leading the team vocally, that’s not going to happen.
"Nah, I don’t really pay too much attention to the count," Jason said after a Game 4 victory put the Mavs ahead 3-1. "I’m just trying to go out there and play for 48 minutes and see what happens at the end."
Defense and rebounding will be keys to the Mavs getting one more win and closing the West Finals tonight.
At the end of four games, the Mavs are in a dominating position. According to Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Full-Court Press the odds are strongly in favor of Dallas moving on to face either the Miami Heat or the Chicago Bulls in the very near future:
"Consider that only eight teams in NBA history have ever climbed out of a 3-1 hole. The Phoenix Suns were the last to do it in 2006 against the Lakers.
But that was in a first round series. The last time it was done in the conference finals was in 1981 when the Celtics rallied against the 76ers.
Only two teams have ever done it without the benefit of home court advantage.
So this appears to be in the bag for the Mavericks."
But don’t tell Dallas that. The Mavericks know what it’s like to lose a lead and they aren’t about to let overconfidence creep in and let it happen again.
"I know that (the Thunder) are going to come in tomorrow and they’re going to come back at us hard, as they’ve done every game," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said at practice on Tuesday. "We’ll have to play our best game to close them out. … We’ve got to be careful about getting away with how happy we are."
With that in mind, Carlisle made note of his team’s focus following Game 4. No one staged a celebration or thought openly about the NBA Finals. They all agreed there was still work to be done.
"There’s a laser-like focus with this group to do whatever we can to get the next win," Carlisle said. "It’s been a group that’s believed in themselves all year long. We don’t quit. We never give up. A lot of those qualities came into play last night. … They know what it’s about for us. We’re trying to get somewhere this franchise has never gotten. There’s a real resolve there."
KIDD THE CALM
According to Dallas center Tyson Chandler, credit for a lot of the Mavs’ resolve goes to J-Kidd, the team’s emotional equalizer.
"He’s just the glue to our team," Chandler told ESPN Dallas regarding J-Kidd. "We’ve got such a veteran team who’s been in this situation. We understand what this means and we all lean on each other at different parts of the game."
Chandler said that he nearly let his emotions get the best of him when things weren’t going Dallas’ way in Game 4, but Jason was there to be a calming influence on him.
"It was huge. I got frustrated a couple of times and every time I came over to the bench, Jason Kidd just kept pointing at his head, ‘Keep your head, keep your head,’" Chandler said. "I got frustrated again at the end of the game with some of the tangled-up [situations] I was getting involved in. I look over at him and he’s doing this (pointing at his head). It’s just at the right time."
Despite a 15-point comeback and an overtime win in Game 4, the Mavs are well aware that there is plenty of work to be done on their own game if they are to win the series tonight.
According to J-Kidd, it starts on the glass, where the Mavs lost the rebounding battle 55-33 on Monday night.
"The big thing is we’ve got to address the rebounding. We can’t give up 20 offensive rebounds. When we went small, they got a lot of offensive rebounds. When you do go small, everybody’s got to help out and rebound. Somewhere in the 50s to 30s in rebounding, you’re not going to win many games like that."
The Mavs need just one more win to advance to the NBA Finals and rebounding and defense will be a key. Their goal is to finish the job in Game 5 tonight at American Airlines Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. CST and the game can be seen on ESPN.
- History on Dallas’ side: Only eight teams have ever rallied from 3-1 deficit (Full-Court Press, May 24, 2011)
- On verge of NBA Finals, Mavs coach pushes basics (The Sacramento Bee, May 24, 2011)
- Mavs @ Thunder Playoff Post Game Four Quotes (Mavs Moneyball, May 24, 2011)
- Chandler leaned on Kidd to keep his cool (ESPN Dallas, May 24, 2011)
- Jason Kidd has no fear, nor do Mavs (ESPN Dallas, May 24, 2011)
- Kidd gives Thunder youngsters a lesson in hustle (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 24, 2011)
- The day after Game 4, Rick Carlisle lauds Mavs’ ‘laser-like focus’ (Dallas Morning News, May 24, 2011)