Defensive intensity must remain high if Mavs are to take Game 3

Practice Report: Dirk Nowitzki

Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki comments on how big Devin Harris has been off the bench, the importance of staying aggressive and attacking in Game 3 and more.

DALLAS — After relying heavily on their defensive intensity to come home from San Antonio with a 1-1 split against the top-seeded Spurs, the Dallas Mavericks will try to continue that winning formula as the first-round playoff series shifts to American Airlines Center.

Looking to build on Wednesday’s 113-92 Game 2 win, the Mavericks returned to the practice court Friday for one final tuneup leading into Saturday’s pivotal third showdown. Leading by as many as 24 in Game 2 thanks to 17 fast-break points and a 44-28 advantage in points in the paint, the Mavs found out first-hand that they are at their best when they’re able to score in transition against a San Antonio defense that finished ranked sixth in points allowed during the regular season while surrendering 97.6 points an outing. However, after converting San Antonio’s 24 turnovers into 33 points at the other end and stealing a win on the Spurs’ home floor to end a 10-game losing streak at the hands of their in-state rivals, the Mavs also acknowledge that they cannot afford to be content defensively if they hope to seize control of the series.

“We’re just being active,” Mavs reserve guard Devin Harris said. “You know, with us and what we’re doing defensively, we’re able to stay with guys a little bit longer and not leave shooters wide open. It’s enabled us to really be more active on defense. I mean, the way they play defense, they’re great when they’re set. So, we want to attack them more in transition when they’re not set. It’s easier for us to score that way.”

“We really didn’t expect that, but you know, we’ve got to come out with the same force defensively and not let up,” 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki added. “Keep getting back in transition, I think that’s the No. 1 key. Yeah, I like what we did, but it’s just one game. We’ve got to prove it here coming home.”

Finding success switching their big men onto Spurs point guard Tony Parker when he initiates a sequence of pick-and-rolls, the Mavericks benefitted from San Antonio’s uncharacteristic miscues in Game 2. Still, the Spurs did hit 10-of-20 from behind the 3-point arc while also connecting on 50 percent from the field in a losing effort.

And with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich expected to make plenty of adjustments in time for Game 3, the Mavs’ ability to convert giveaways into transition scores at the other end could prove vital as they try to collect a win on their home floor against the San Antonio team for the first time since a 106-99 victory back on March 17, 2012.

Practice Report: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle discusses some of the team's strategy on the defensive end against the Spurs, Devin Harris' impact on the series and much more.

“Well, we want to be aggressive, but we want to do it within our system and we don’t want to play willy-nilly and be gambling all over the place, ’cause this team will make you pay a price,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said while explaining his team’s defensive philosophy in the series. “So, look, we want to continue to do the good things that we’re doing and we’ve got to make some corrections, because we’re still making some mistakes. And they’re a great team and they make you make mistakes, so it’s just important that we do things within our system as much as possible. But we’ve got to keep our level at a very high level, especially coming back home. We cannot allow there to be any kind of letup here.”

Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center Saturday for Game 3 of their first-round playoff series as the scene shifts to Dallas. The series is tied at 1-1. Game 2 will air nationally on TNT and locally on TXA 21 at 3:30 p.m. CT.

The series schedule is as follows:

Game 3: San Antonio at Dallas, 3:30 p.m. CT on TNT and TXA 21, Saturday, April 26
Game 4: San Antonio at Dallas, 8:30 p.m. CT on TNT and TXA 21, Monday, April 28
Game 5 (if necessary): Dallas at San Antonio CT, TBD, Wednesday, April 30
Game 6 (if necessary): San Antonio at Dallas CT, TBD, Friday, May 2
Game 7 (if necessary): Dallas at San Antonio CT, TBD, Sunday, May 4

Single-game tickets for the first two Mavs home games of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs are on sale now. Tickets are available at the American Airlines Center box office, online at or by calling (214) 747-MAVS. There is an eight-ticket limit per game.

Practice Report: Devin Harris

Mavs G Devin Harris weighs in on his performance through the first two games of the series against the Spurs, what they have to do to be successful in Game 3 on Saturday and more.