By Travis Bremner
The Dallas Mavericks are on the brink of being eliminated from the NBA playoffs short of their ultimate goal yet again tonight at the hands of their arch rival San Antonio Spurs.
Down 3-1 in the series, odds are not in Dallas’ favor to come back and win – only eight out of 189 have every won a series when trailing 3-1.
For this to have a chance, several things have to happen.
1. Drive the ball. The Mavericks are a jump shooting team, we all know this, but taking the basketball to the rim has to be the number one goal for this offensively. In games three and four all you saw was jump shot after jump shot, after jump shot, most of them misses. On the other end you see the Spurs getting lay-ups and buckets.
2. Don’t bench your stars. Rick Carlisle is a good coach, but he’s made some ridiculous decisions in this series that have put his team in a difficult position. First sitting Caron Butler for the entire second half in game three, then putting Shawn Marion on the bench in the fourth quarter of game four. Those are the players you traded for, to play in games likes these, and you bench them? Makes no sense.
3. Less JJ Barea. He’s a good player, he has his role on the Mavericks – about 10 minutes a game, come in and give a spark. But nothing more, and especially not 32 straight minutes which he did in game three. It was pretty evident in that game three when Tony Parker was making shot after shot over him.
4. More Brendan Haywood. When he watches Erick(a) Dampier on the court, he has been thinking, ‘why am I not in the game?’ Since he came to Dallas, Haywood has outperformed Dampier, I’m dumbfounded as to Carlisle continues to give Dampier more minutes.
5. Hustle. Sounds simple enough, it’s what every kid is taught at basketball camp but every time there is a loose ball, San Antonio comes up with it. Every time. That’s not a coincidence, the Spurs want it more and they’re going after it. And would somebody box out DeJuan Blair.