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Mavs' smallball best in short bursts

SAN ANTONIO – The Mavs’ three-guard lineup is like the jalapenos I just ate with my shrimp nachos at Rosario’s. It’s a nice way to spice things up, but moderation is a must.

The Mavs dealt with some heartburn after Rick Carlisle stuck with his mighty mite lineup too long in Game 3.

“It got us the lead the other night,” Jason Kidd said. “In that aspect, it was good. But I think sometimes when we stick with it too long it puts us in a hole.”

Call me crazy, but I’m willing to bet that Caron Butler won’t watch from the bench as JJ Barea plays a whole half again. Barea is a nice changeup and has had playoff success against the Spurs, but the longer he’s on the floor, the more likely it is that Tony Parker and/or George Hill will expose his defensive liabilities.

It’s likely that Carlisle will go with the three-guard look at some point in tonight’s win-or-else Game 4. He likes the playmaking punch that lineup provides, but he didn’t deny that there can be diminishing returns with smallball.

“It’ll depend on the ebb and flow of the game, matchups, momentum and those kinds of things,” Carlisle said. “You’ve got to have a feel for how long to stick with it, but it’s something that we’ve used a lot the last couple of years against this team.

“How much we’ll do tonight, I don’t know.”

Here’s betting the shrimp won’t be the main course again.