Mavs playing for nothing but pride

DALLAS -- Even down 0-3, there is still a bit of false bravado in the defending NBA champions' locker room.

After being dominated on their home floor by the Oklahoma City Thunder, a couple of Dallas Mavericks adopted a why-not attitude when it came to their attempt to become the first team in NBA history to overcome an 0-3 deficit in a playoff series.

“Can you fight through adverse situations and come together as a team and get it done? I believe we can,” sixth man Jason Terry said. “People say I’m crazy. Hey, go see a doc.”

A sane outlook after a 95-79 loss that wasn’t near as close as the final score indicates: The Mavs are simply playing for pride at this point. They’re just trying to avoid the embarrassment of following up a championship run by failing to win a playoff game.

It’s essentially guaranteed that the Mavs will be scattered on golf courses and beaches in a week or so. It’s just a matter of if they’ll have to hang their heads all offseason after being on the broom end of a sweep.

“We’ve got to win a game,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “If you’re down 0-3, you never focus on winning four straight. You’ve got to show some pride on Saturday and just play a better game.”

The Mavs’ ill-fated postseason slogan -- “All in” -- is about pride and commitment. It just so happens to have been a phrase owner Mark Cuban hollered in a heated halftime confrontation the day the Mavs mutually decided to let Lamar Odom quit on this team.

Can the remaining Mavs muster the mental toughness to keep fighting when all realistic hope has been rejected into the fifth row like Serge Ibaka’s swat of a Terry layup attempt?

We’ll find out Saturday night in Game 4. And that’s really the only drama remaining in the Mavs’ failed title defense.

“We’ve got to fight,” Shawn Marion said. “We’ve got to go out swinging. That’s what it’s about. It’s about going out there and seeing what’s inside of you.

“Gotta dig deep inside of us and go out there and get it. We’ve got to all look at each other in the eyes and in the face and go out there and challenge each other.”

The Mavs will be all out soon. That fate has all but been sealed.

Will they be ashamed? They still have a say in that.