DALLAS -- No team in NBA has overcome a 0-3 deficit and won a best-of-seven playoff series.
That’s the dire situation the Dallas Mavericks are trying to avoid when they host Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets tonight at 6 at American Airlines Center.
Houston leads the series 2-0 and hopes to take a commanding 3-0 lead tonight. But that prospect is not on the mind of coach Rick Carlisle.
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"We don't think about that, we think about what we need to do to play our best,’’ Carlisle said after Friday morning’s shootaround. "(We’ve got to) get our home crowd engaged in the game, which is (through) hard play and aggressive play and we just need to hold court.’’
The Mavs also need to find a way to contain that destructive force known as Dwight Howard. In Game 2 the Mavs led by three points early in the fourth quarter until Howard turned into Superman, one of his favorite comic book characters.
Overall, Howard registered seven dunks in Game 2, including five in the fourth quarter on lob passes from Josh Smith. The Mavs can ill-afford any of that type of activity to occur if they hope to narrow this series to 2-1.
"We've made some adjustments to some of the things they've done and we're going to have to execute those things and do them better,’’ Carlisle said. "I won't get into the specifics of what we're doing -- that wouldn't be very smart -- but in a seven-game series it's a long journey and for us, the important thing is to get back home and get our aggression back to where it has to be.’’
That aggression must be a huge part of the Mavs’ game plan if they hope to win this series. The strategy must be full-proof, because if Howard gets loose again like he did in Game 2, tonight’s contest likely won’t end well for the Mavs.
"Yeah, we changed up a few schemes defensively,’’ backup center Amar’e Stoudemire said. "It’s going to hopefully help us defensively to get a few stops."
The Mavs are also hoping that having a point guard on the floor who can consistently hit a jump shot will be a bonus in the fallout of losing Rajon Rondo for the rest of this season to what Carlisle classified as a back injury.
"I think we’ve got guys who can create some offense for us, defense as well,’’ Stoudemire said. "We’ve got a pretty deep team.
"There’s one thing great about our team this year, that we got a pretty well-rounded, deep team. So we should still be able to have success."
Part of that success includes getting off to a much more productive start and make the Rockets play from a deep deficit for a change.
"We have to start the game plan efficient,’’ Carlisle said. "The six turnovers in the first quarter the other night was a problem even though we came out of it with a lead somehow - we got to do better than that tonight.’’
The Mavs also have to play with force. With the season on the brink, now is not the time to be gracious hosts.
"We have to be the aggressors, no doubt about it,’’ Carlisle said. "We have to do it without fouling -- ball security is a big part of it.
"A playoff series as it goes along and more familiarity sets in it, it gets harder to get shots, harder to do everything, aggression-wise. We’ve got to get into a higher level, and execution-wise we have to do better.’’