Your half time Maverick MVP is Brandon Bass with 12 points, 8 rebounds (6 of them offensive) and a block. He was busy cleaning up all those Maverick misses and was in-control aggressive when everyone else seemed to be in too big of a hurry to catch up.
Jason Terry was good also with 12 points, but disappeared for quite a stretch.
The Mavs shot terribly in the second quarter and were a putrid 7-24 from the field.
Jason Terry hit two big back-to-back threes, and if he starts heating up, it should open the Mavs up on other spots on the floor. It can also make the Hornets desperate to catch up, and thus get them off their game like they did in Game 3.
Tyson Chandler picked up his second foul early, just like last game. That affected the Hornets game plan greatly in Game 3 as it removed a big athletic size advantage for long stretches. The Mavs have to attack the lane while he's in and when he inevitably sits for a stretch.
Although the Hornets have more big-man athleticism, the Mavs have one of the strongest big men in the league in Erick Dampier. He scored twice early, and getting him involved should be a priority. It's part of the game plan that the Hornets aren't as well equipped to deal with, and to get him open, the Mavs have to staying moving elsewhere on the court to keep New Orleans busy on defense. Hopefully Damp doesn't drop out of the offensive picture for long stretches like the case has been most of the series.
A few tidbits to tide you over until tipoff here at the AAC:
* Dirk Nowitzki scored 32 points and had 19 rebounds in Game 3 on Friday. It was his eighth career 30-point, 15 rebound postseason performance. The Mavs are 7-1 in those games. * Jason Terry started his first game of the postseason on Friday and finished with 22 points and 6 assists. * After three consecutive halves with 60+ points, the Mavericks did not allow a 50-point half in Game 3. * In Game 3, four Mavericks played 40-plus minutes (Nowitzki, Kidd, Howard and Terry). That was the first time this happened in the postseason. * The Mavs are going to the free-throw line 38.3 times per game, after averaging 25.3 free throws in the regular season.
Well, the Suns are alive for another day after beating the Spurs handily. Being down 3-1 is quite a mountain to climb, especially considering that they just won their first game of the series.
If the Mavs lose tonight, they will find themselves in a similar hole, but will have paced it differently with a Game 3 victory instead of Game 4. But really, what's the difference? You still have to win three straight against a team that has already bested you 75 percent of the series thus far.
So, can you call this a must win? With the steaming pile they ran out on the floor in New Orleans, you have to think that their odds heading back there for Game 5 aren't great. They won't be getting the calls like they've been getting here, and the Hornets are certainly more on their game there than in Dallas. So, in that respect, yes, it is a must-win.
It could be mere hours now before the Suns' playoffs are extinguished and the great Shaq experiment is officially declared a big-time bust. The Spurs can sweep the series with another win in Phoenix coming up. The Mavs can't be eliminated tonight, but they can be pushed to the brink. A first-round exit is not what the Mavs envisioned when they traded for Jason Kidd. Dirk Nowitzki knows that, and he's also been keeping up with his little buddy, Steve Nash, and the Suns.
"It's never easy," Dirk said of making significant trades in February. "You'd love to through a training camp, get used to each other more, get used to the plays offensively and all the defensive calls, but you just don't have that time if you trade in February. I think both teams did as good as they could working through some stuff. I think early on both teams had some troubles, but once they got used to each other a little more, both teams started to play some pretty good basketball.
"It was tough to watch the Suns after that Game 1, a phenomenal effort, probably should have won that game and then they're down 0-3, so it's tough for them."