Up 3-0 is big; 2-1 whole other story

DALLAS -- Perhaps better than most, Dirk Nowitzki knows not to count his chickens before they hatch. The Dallas Mavericks can seize a commanding 3-0 lead tonight at the American Airlines, but they know it won't come easy against the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

"We're a veteran team and we've talked about it. This series is far from over," Nowitzki said. "I've been around a long time. I've been up 2-0 before, ended up losing the series. I've been down 2-0 where I lost both home games against Houston a couple years ago [2005], came back and won in Game 7. We've seen a lot of things happen in this league, so we've got to stay focused, stay together and let our home crowd ride us."

The Lakers are 2-1 on the road in the playoffs. They took a 2-1 lead in Game 3 in New Orleans and closed out the series in Game 6.

Jason Kidd provided the mindset for the team in the 0-2 hole.

"Just get one," Kidd said. "Start with getting one and work from there. Once you get one you can relax a little bit and then kind of put the pressure back on the team that has the lead. That would be the mindset for the Lakers is just to get one and it turns it into a series."

No doubt it would. No team has ever rallied from being down 3-0 down, although the Mavs -- of all teams, right? -- flirted with doing it in the first round in 2003 when Portland came all the back only to lose in Game 7. However, if the Lakers win, the pressure then falls squarely on the Mavs to win in Game 4 with Game 5 back in L.A. on Tuesday night.

"They're the champs. They won on the road before," Kidd said. "We saw them win in New Orleans in Game 3 to take control of that series so we've got to be prepared for that tonight."

And how should the team up 2-0 enter Game 3?

"Well," Kidd said, "you've got to act as if you're down 0-2."