Things go haywire in life. Basketball is no different.
Every team has issues, areas that must be addressed and fixed. They also have aspects that go surprisingly well, on occasion.
The Mavericks are in a brawl with the Los Angeles Clippers and their emotions already have run the gamut in falling behind 2-1 in the best-of-seven match.
Mentally, they have had to deal with missing Kristaps Porzingis for much of Game 1 and Luka Dončić during parts of Game 2 and 3. His status for Game 4 (2:30 p.m. tipoff) is uncertain because of the sprained left ankle he suffered in the third quarter of Game 3.
But no matter who is playing, the Mavericks have to come out in Game 4 like they own the bubble at Lake Buena Vista, Fla. And a film session and workout Saturday helped prime them for that.
“We’re desperate,” said Trey Burke, who has been one of the brightest surprises for the Mavericks in the bubble. “We’re pretty desperate at this point. We know that it’s not a win-or-go-home game, but we’re treating it as such.
Everyone’s really eager to get back out there knowing how close we were to winning that game (Friday). You lose a game like that, the collective mentality is eagerness, eager to get out there and try to win the next one.”
And, he quickly added, confidence is not a problem.
“Everyone is really confident,” he said. “No one is deflated, no one’s in their shell. We know we have a real shot to win this series and that’s how we’re approaching it.”
To do so, they’ll have to clean up some obvious flaws that showed up in Game 3. Their defense gave up 58 points in the paint and it seemed like all of them came from Kawhi Leonard. In reality, Leonard spread his 36 points around, although only three of them came from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Mavericks also continued to be very average from the free-throw line, shooting only 70.6 percent. Dončić was the biggest culprit, shooting 4-of-10 from the line.
Other concerns include the 3-point shooting from Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith, who are a combined 5-for-25. They aren’t the only ones who have struggled, but they are two of the wild cards when it comes to taking the pressure off of Dončić and Porzingis.
“I got to keep shooting my shots and stay confident,” Kleber said. “We got to keep believing and fighting as a team. It’s the playoffs. There’s going to be ups and downs. We just got to focus on the next game now.”
It’s not like the Clippers don’t have their issues, too. They have had inconsistent production from Montrezl Harrell, JaMychal Green and others.
They have had to fill the void left by the injured Patrick Beverley, and did so well with Landry Shamet manning the point guard spot in Game 3 with 18 points.
Perhaps most annoying for the Clippers: Paul George has struggled with his shot the last two games (7-of-33).
“I’m not worried about it,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s a great player. He’s human.
“I can tell you this – guarantee you this – he has not forgotten how to shoot. It will fall for him.”
That’s one of the things the Mavericks are worried about, too.
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