DALLAS – The defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks have reached a point of desperation after just two playoff games.
Sixth man Jason Terry, the longtime voice of the Mavs’ locker room, made that clear as he exited the team’s practice court Wednesday, stopping halfway up the staircase to make a sole statement to the media.
“Game 3 is like Game 7,” Terry said. “Thank you very much.”
The Mavs find themselves in this position after failing to close out the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first two games of the series. The Thunder, who were eliminated by the Mavs in five games in last season’s Western Conference finals, won Games 1 and 2 by at Chesapeake Energy Arena by a combined four points.
The Mavs’ hopes go from slim to virtually none if they fail to win Game 3 at the American Airlines Center. No team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit in an NBA playoff series. There are 99 teams that have tried and failed in best-of-7 series.
Mavs point guard Jason Kidd attempted to downplay the team’s concern about the situation, but the two longest-tenured Mavericks acknowledged that it’s a win-or-else approach for Thursday night’s game.
“I think that the odds are obviously very stacked against you,” Dirk Nowitzki said when asked if he agreed with Terry’s statement. “It’s definitely a big game if we want to have a chance to make this a series.
“We’re looking forward to a great home crowd. We’ve had two days off to get some rest and look at some stuff and get better today. Hopefully, we’ll play our best game yet and execute a little better down the stretch and squeeze one out and put some pressure on them and make it a series.”
Teams that fall behind 0-2 are only 14-226 in best-of-7 series in NBA history. However, Terry and Nowitzki have experience on both sides of those rare comebacks.
The Mavs rallied from an 0-2 deficit to defeat the Houston Rockets in the 2005 first round, when Terry was the hero of the series. The Mavs lost the 2006 Finals to the Miami Heat after winning the first two games, a crushing defeat they avenged by clinching last season’s title in Miami.
Nowitzki was also part of a comeback from an 0-2 hole in a best-of-5 series, when the Mavs beat the Jazz in the first playoff series of his career.
As far as coach Rick Carlisle is concerned, the Mavs’ mission is to return to Oklahoma City with the series deadlocked.
“We need to win two games,” Carlisle said. “That’s our job now that we’re back home. Game 3 is very important. There’s no denying that.”