Now that the Dallas Mavericks have taken home-court advantage away from the San Antonio Spurs, they’re determined to hang on to it.
After all, even though the Mavericks won 26 games at home and 23 on the road this season, a strong case can be made that they have played better on the road than they did at American Airlines Center.
The basketball world was turned upside down for the Mavericks this season in terms of where they were at their best.
That’s why, despite taking home-court advantage from the Spurs with Wednesday’s 113-92 victory in San Antonio, the Mavericks aren’t celebrating.
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“It is a little dangerous going home because we have been a decent road team all year,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “At home, we have not figured it out yet.”
The best-of-seven Western Conference first-round playoff series is tied 1-1. Game 3 is set for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at American Airlines Center, and Game 4 is 8:30 p.m. Monday, also at the AAC.
Game 5 will be played in San Antonio at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The Mavericks are only 5-5 in their past 10 home games, including a 109-100 loss to the Spurs on April 10.
“I think we have lost some big games [at home] in the last couple of months, and we can’t take our foot off the gas,” Nowitzki said. “We have to compete the same way and then I like our chances going home.”
In their recent franchise-record, eight-game homestand, the Mavericks were 4-4. And that included overtime losses to the Minnesota Timberwolves (123-122), Brooklyn Nets (107-104) and Golden State Warriors (122-120).
The Mavericks also lost three other home games this season to teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs — the Denver Nuggets (110-96), Timberwolves (112-106) and New York Knicks (92-80).
Monta Ellis believes the best way for the Mavericks to keep the momentum going at home is to always play like they’re behind in the game.
“We have to go back home in front of our home crowd, but we can’t lay an egg,” said Ellis, who scored a team-high 21 points in Game 2. “We have to stay the course.
“We have to take it game-by-game when we go home, we have to stick with the game plan. Trust that it works and hopefully we can hit some shots and come out with the win.”
Coach Rick Carlisle knows his team can’t afford to start feeling comfortable just because the next two games are in Dallas.
“It’s a monumental task [beating the Spurs], but we’re in this thing to win,” Carlisle said. “We’re not in it just to get a split and feel happy.
“We can’t do that. We cannot let up.”
Among the eight teams that advanced to the playoffs from the Western Conference, the Mavericks had the worst home record at 26-15.
But the only teams in the NBA with a better road record were the Spurs (30-11), Oklahoma City (25-16) and Golden State (24-17).
That might be why Carlisle insists he’s not content trying to defend his home court against a Spurs team that had the NBA’s best record at 62-20.
“They’re such a dangerous team and they have such great players that we’re mixing things up a lot and we’re doing a lot of things that frankly we don’t want to,” Carlisle said. “But we have to because they’re such a potent team and they have such great players, and they’ve got the coach of the year [Gregg Popovich].
“Going back home, this is where we’ve got to avoid any kind of letup.”