Mavs Blow Home-court Advantage in Game Four
So much for that so-called home-court advantage.
The Dallas Mavericks came out swinging and took an early lead after the first quarter, looking like a team that really wanted this game. Then for the rest of the final 36 minutes it was the same old song and dance: too many jump shots, way too much defensive confusion, and not nearly enough aggressiveness on both ends. The end result wasn’t pretty for Mavs fans, as Dallas now sits in a daunting 3-1 hole heading back to New Orleans after their 97-84 defeat in Game 4.
Offensively, the Mavericks looked severely out of sync, especially in the half court during the second half when the team really started to fall behind. Unlike Game 3 when Dallas was able to convert a number of easy baskets off the fast break, tonight the Mavericks couldn’t get any semblance of a transition game going. Combine that with 36 percent shooting from the field and it’s easy to see why the Mavericks got blown out once again.
Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Brandon Bass were the only three Mavericks in double figures, yet none of them shot over 50 percent from the field. Josh Howard continued his dismal play, shooting only 3-for-16 for six points in 32 minutes. Jerry Stackhouse and Jason Kidd, two guys who needed to have big games tonight, also failed to show up once again. Both were virtual non-factors on offense, and Kidd was actually ejected early in the fourth quarter for committing a flagrant-two foul on the Hornets’ Jannero Pargo.
Down 3-1, the Mavericks’ chances of coming back to win this series are now pretty slim. Considering that Dallas hasn’t won a road playoff game since the 2006 Western Conference Finals, it looks to me like they have no shot of even winning one more game if they continue to play like this. But even with that said, this team hasn’t gotten a complete effort from the entire team since the first quarter of Game 1. If Dallas can put together four quarters of efficient, aggressive basketball, they can bring this thing back to the AAC.
In order for that to happen, they’ll need Josh Howard to snap out of this funk first and foremost. There’s no excuse for the way that he’s been playing in this series. Second, they’ll need someone else besides Brandon Bass (Stackhouse, maybe?) to help contribute off the bench. Finally, as I’ve said all season long, the team can’t continue to settle for jump shots and must make a conscious effort to take the ball to the rim on every possession.
Tuesday’s Game 5 will mean a lot for this team. A road win would be a big confidence booster and give Dallas a chance to force an anything-can-happen Game 7 if they can take care of business at home in Game 6. A loss could signal the end for some of the Mavs’ core players as well as Avery Johnson.
Win and live to play another game. Lose and the risk seeing the dynamite. If that’s not enough motivation, I don’t know what is.
[top image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/timcummins/]