MIAMI – Game 6 is Game 7.
It was a battle cry echoed through the Dallas Mavericks’ ranks, pretty much from the final horn of the victory in Dallas Thursday that put them up 3-2 in The Finals, right through to tipoff Sunday night, In what was, for the record, Game 6.
The mentality was critical, though, for Dallas’ players and coaches to keep their edge and not lapse into any relaxed, “two to win one” outlook.
Not that the Boston Celtics were guilty of any lapsing, but the 2010 Finals did fit the pattern the Mavericks feared. Boston took a 3-2 lead to Los Angeles, then dropped Games 6 and 7 to the Lakers. Losing Celtics center Kendrick Perkins to a knee injury in Game 6 was the sort of bad fortune Dallas wanted to avoid Sunday.
“You don’t want to be in a situation where you give a team hope and you leave it to fate and a Game 7 situation,” Dallas center Tyson Chandler said. “Because in that situation, anybody can win. It’s anybody’s game. When you have an opportunity to close a team out, you need to do so.
“You relax for one second and it’s really just one game. It’s the Super Bowl basically.”
Except on the other guys’ home court, not in some neutral stadium.
The danger is that, if the Mavericks lose Game 6 – or their Game 7, so to speak – they risk a letdown at having to rev up again physically and mentally in 48 hours.
On the other hand, if the Dallas approach is the proper one and pays off with a championship in Game 6, then, er, Game 8 won’t be necessary on Tuesday.