Don’t mention the “S” word to the Dallas Mavericks as they prepare for Wednesday night’s Game 2 of the first-round Western Conference playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center.
The streak of 10 consecutive losses to their I-35 rivals is daunting enough.
Already trailing 1-0 in the series, the Mavericks are trying to even the series before heading back to Dallas for Game 3 on Saturday.
“What streak? It’s one game. I don’t know about no streak,” forward Shawn Marion said. “It’s one game. We’re going out there to try to get this game.”
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The streak, which dates back two seasons, is a huge reason the Mavericks were painted as a decided underdog at the outset of the series.
“We are just ready for Game 2,” forward Vince Carter said. “There is nothing we can do about that. We are not coming to get rid of a 10-game losing streak. We are here to win the series. We are not going out there playing to not lose our 11th. We are going out there to win four games.”
The Mavericks feel good about breaking the streak in Game 2 because of the positives born out of the close 90-85 loss to the Spurs in Game 1 on Sunday even though their star players, forward Dirk Nowitzki and guard Monta Ellis, did not play well.
The previous nine losses had come by an average of 15 points. But this time the Mavericks controlled the game for much of the way and had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter before unraveling.
“We were in the game,” Nowitzki said. “We were still up 10. Don’t think we can say that about any of our last meetings the last two years down there. So that’s a positive. I think we did a better job in transition. We competed. We just couldn’t get anything to drop.”
It was an uncharacteristic scoring drought at the end of the game that did the Mavericks in, underscored by poor shooting nights from Nowitzki and Ellis.
Both scored just 11 points on equally atrocious 4-of-14 shooting from the field.
“We were right there without them having great games,” Marion said. “Just think if everybody had great games, what we would have done. At the same time, we’ve got to be able to duplicate what we did on defense. That’s the biggest key. It is about scoring, but it’s also about getting stops and playing defense as well.”
While Mavericks plan to tinker with some things, they believe they did everything right in Game 1, save for the finish.
They have no worries about Nowitzki bouncing back with a strong shooting performance. History and his pedigree as one of the league’s all-time greats have taught them as much.
“We’ve got to do some things to get him some better looks, and we will. He’s just got to stay the course and play his game. That’s the important part of it,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s had the same approach every day for 16 years. It’s gotten him into very rare territory in terms of scoring and all that kind of stuff and being viewed as one of the all-time great players. An off shooting night in Game 1 doesn’t concern me.”
And the 10-game losing streak to the Spurs apparently doesn’t concern the Mavericks either.
“If you don’t believe you can beat a team, you should just stay at home,” Nowitzki said. “That’s how you have to go into a series with that mindset. I don’t care if you lose 20 times to a team, you have to go in there with a fresh mindset to battle and leave it all out there and see what happens at the end of the series.”