Sports

Mavericks have no need to fear with Jason Terry's Underdog here

DALLAS -- Last year Jason Terry was sporting a picture of the NBA championship trophy that he had tattooed on his bicep.

This year the Dallas Mavericks guard is showing off a picture of "Underdog," which has been tattooed on his bicep since high school.

Terry believes even though the Mavs are the defending NBA champs, they'll be the underdog in every round when the playoffs start this weekend.

"Here it is right there, Underdog himself," Terry said, pointing to the Underdog tattoo. "So every time we step on the floor we feel like we are the underdog, and again it's all about going out here and making a statement."

Earlier this year, Terry made a statement when he became upset about not receiving a contract extension before the season started. He added that he was auditioning for other teams because he didn't know if he'll still be with the Mavs next season.

"He shouldn't be thinking like that," forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "I think you've got to focus on the stuff at hand -- that's the playoff run.

"Hopefully he'll play well and we'll have a deep run. If I was in his shoes, that is what I would be focusing on -- playing my best and helping this franchise ultimately win a couple of playoff series."

Coach Rick Carlisle knows Terry will be there when the Mavs need him the most, especially in the fourth quarter.

"Everybody here is focused on winning," Carlisle said. "In the last six years here, Jet has established himself as one of the real winners in this league because of his reputation as a game closer and what he did in the Finals last year.

"Jet is a great player, and the one thing I always remind him of is he's a great all-around player. He's not just a scorer, he's a playmaker."

Nowitzki's take

The way this season transpired, Dirk Nowitzki acknowledged that the Mavs weren't deserving of one of the top four seeds in the Western Conference and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Instead, Dallas (36-29) will enter the playoffs this weekend as a No. 6 or a No. 7 seed.

"Yeah, it's an up and down year," Nowitzki said. "It's been a tough year here.

"I just don't think we've been consistent enough to be in the top four. Maybe if it would have been an injury-free season."

Injuries shelved guard Delonte West for 22 games, guard Jason Kidd for 16, center Brendan Haywood for 10 games, guard Rodrigue Beaubois for seven games, center Brandan Wright and guard Vince Carter for five games apiece, Nowitzki for four games and forward Shawn Marion for three games.

"I think if we all would have played [every game] a top four [seed] would have been possible," Nowitzki said.

Briefly

Rick Carlisle said Jason Kidd probably will not play in Thursday's regular-season finale against the Atlanta Hawks. Carlisle also said others might not play, but he wouldn't name names.

The Mavs were back at work Tuesday after taking off Sunday and Monday.

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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