DALLAS -- The grim reaper might be knocking hard at their door. But the Dallas Mavericks are not ready to check out of the playoffs.
The Mavericks trail the Oklahoma City Thunder 3-0 in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series. No NBA team has ever recovered from an 0-3 hole and won a best-of-seven series.
But the Mavericks believe they can be the first team to pull off the comebacks of all comebacks.
Guard Jason Terry asked: "Why not be the first team to do something great?"
Forward Vince Carter said: "I don't really care what history says and I really don't care about numbers. At some point someone is going to defy the odds, so why not try for it?"
Coach Rick Carlisle was adamant about his team trying to rewrite history and defeating the Thunder four straight times. But first, the Mavericks have to win Game 4, which is tonight at 6:30 at American Airlines Center.
And if the Mavericks are going to defy some tremendous odds, they have to play much better than they did when they were hammered 95-79 at home in Game 3 on Thursday.
"Somebody is going to do it and it's going to happen," Carlisle said of a comeback from being down 0-3. "The thing is to get to that point we've got to focus on tonight's game, we've got to focus on the first quarter, the first six minutes and work it whistle to whistle.
"That's the way it's going to happen. We still have a lot of belief in ourselves and what we're doing, and we're going to keep fighting."
The only problem with the Mavericks is that fight includes a small margin for error. One slipup and the off-season will begin in earnest.
"The focus is very narrow -- it's on one game," Carlisle said. "We've got to make sure we're pointing out the things that we're doing well on the one hand, and we've got to correct some things on the other side of it.
"To keep playing we've got to work the process, we've got to play our game. We've got to put ourselves in position to win and then we've got to finish the game, and then we can move on to Game 5."
Because he becomes a free agent on July 1, Terry said he doesn't want to get swept out of the playoffs. But if he had his druthers, he would rather the Mavs find a way to get out of this series and go on and repeat as NBA champions.
"We have to come out with pride and play hard and make sure we get our game on," Terry said. "We haven't done that yet this series.
"[Tonight] we're going to get that done."
The pressure is definitely on the Mavericks, especially because the only time they've been swept in the team's 33 previous playoff appearances was 3-0 to the Portland Trail Blazers in 1990 in the first round, which then was a best-of-five series.
"We're not tense or tight," Carlisle said. "We understand the nature of competition. In NBA playoff basketball you're going to face competition at a very high level in the first round. We faced it last year."
Still, the Mavericks don't want to see the Thunder sweeping up the AAC court tonight.
And they're certainly lamenting Thursday's lackluster performance in which Oklahoma City led the entire game.
"It's definitely disappointing to not be able to come home and get a victory," Terry said. "Obviously, I take a lot of responsibility on my shoulders because I'm the spiritual and emotional leader.
"I'm the guy they're counting on. I have a lot of fight in me and that's why [tonight] I'm going to come out fighting. To a man everyone has to come out with that mentality."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760