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How critical is winning the first quarter?

SAN ANTONIO -- Usually the last two minutes of NBA games are the most important. In this series, it's been the first 12. The team ahead after the first quarter has gone on to win each game.

That's a stat typically more in line with NHL games than NBA, So, is it coincidence or is something to getting the early lead, even if neither team has enjoyed more than a seven-point bulge?

"It definitely helps to play from in front," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "So much is made of the fourth quarter and crunch time in whatever sport you're talking about, but all that stuff accumulates over the previous 36 or 40 minutes or whatever. Any advantage you can gain early in the game is important."