HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — Mavericks guard Jason Terry tried the “Game 3 is Game 7” card a few days ago and the effort fell woefully short for the home team.
So he’s changed up his tactics for tonight’s win-or-go-fishing Game 4 at American Airlines Center. Instead of the defending champion Mavericks having to deal with the pressure of staving off elimination at the hands of the Thunder, Terry is playing the “pressure’s all on them” card this time.
When you’re down 3-0 and in danger of being swept out of the playoffs before they really get going, why not throw all your cards out there?
“The pressure is on them all the way,” Terry told ESPNDallas.com. “They’re kind of young. They might not realize it, but it’s there, and hopefully they’ll feel it during the game because it’s hard to close a team out. And then if you do lose, then what? Now you start to think about it a little bit. Not a situation (down 3-0) we want to be in, but we’ll take it at this point.”
At this point, the Mavericks have to win just to save a little face. Even after coming in as the No. 7 seed, Terry and the Mavericks talked and walked with the swagger you’d expect from the defending champs.
They presented themselves as contenders, even if their regular season work suggested otherwise. They played like a team ready for a fight in Games 1 and 2, losing both games by a combined four points. But the bottom fell out in that Game 3 rout Thursday night.
Now they’ll have to hold off a hungry Thunder team that understands the importance of handling the business at hand, regardless of the location.
To their credit, the Thunder haven’t shown anything but the utmost respect when speaking about the Mavericks and their predicament. They expect a team led by veterans like Dirk Nowitzki, Terry, Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd to fight until the very end.
“I don’t think we’ve dominated them at all,” Kevin Durant said. “We’ve won a few games here and there, a last second shot one. After playing this team so much last year and the start of this year, we kind of knew what we were coming into in this series. We were able to learn from our past mistakes and apply them here.”
And now they have a chance to seize the moment, pressure packed as Terry or anyone else believes it might be, and finish the Mavericks in a sweep in a series most folks (yours truly included) predicted would go at least six games.
“It’s very important, anytime you have a chance to close a team out you need to do it,” Kendrick Perkins said. “But one thing I know about close out games is that it’s the hardest one to win. And then you’re on the road, against the defending champs … you have to expect them to come out and give it their all. Their team has too much pride, the organization has too much pride not to go down fighting.”