That’s a fact the Mavs are trying to forget.
“It’s a new season, clean slate right now,” forward Shawn Marion said. “Don’t nobody have a victory in the postseason yet. So that’s our objective: Go out there and win the first game.”
Marion, the Mavs’ stopper, went into shutdown defense mode when the media attempted to delve into the specific challenges presented by a San Antonio squad that had the NBA’s best regular-season record.
“All I know is we play Sunday at 12 o’clock,” Marion said. “Y’all going to be there? Sounds good to me. I’m not saying nothing else. It’s a new season. That’s all that really matters. And we’re ready.”
There’s no denying that the Spurs have dominated Dallas recently, rolling to those nine straight wins by an average margin of almost 15 points. But there’s no point in the Mavs dwelling on just how slim their odds seem to be of winning this series.
“I don’t really listen to that stuff,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “My attention has to be to preparing our guys and making sure we’re getting enough work and we’re going to be fresh and we have a simple, effective strategy for playing better because we just haven’t played well against these guys. We had a good day today, we’ll have another day tomorrow and then we’ll tee it up.
“Our challenge is to play our hardest and most efficient game. That’s really where it’s at. We got to keep our approach simple. We got to keep turnovers down and we got to be scrambling our butts off because of how well they move the ball.”
After the franchise’s 12-year postseason streak was snapped last season, the Mavs set a goal of making the playoffs and then seeing what happens.
The Mavs desperately wanted a chance to compete at the highest level again. They embrace that opportunity, knowing that it doesn’t get any tougher in today’s NBA than a stay on the Riverwalk to open a series.
“We’re the eighth seed playing against the best team, so it’s going to be hard,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who is 2-3 in playoff series against Tim Duncan’s Spurs. “But it’s a challenge, and if I didn’t like to compete still, I might as well go home. That’s why I’m still playing, because I love to be out there trying to help my team win games. That’s why I still play.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a great challenge, but also a fun one. We’ve got to make it fun. We’ve got to play hard, we’ve got to compete, we’ve got to try to defend and rebound and see how far we can ride it out.”