Mavs unsatisfied with Game 3 performance, vow to be better defensively

Practice Report: Vince Carter

Mavs G-F Vince Carter talks about putting his game-winner behind him and focusing on getting a win in Game 4.

DALLAS — Fighting the natural tendency to simply be satisfied with their last-second Game 3 victory, the Dallas Mavericks returned to the practice court Sunday focused on what they did wrong in order to place themselves in that position in the first place.

Unsatisfied with their 2-1 series lead over the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs after sixth man Vince Carter swished in a game-winning 3-pointer Saturday as time expired to cap off a 109-108 win, the Mavericks studied the tape of their Game 3 victory closely. And what they discovered was a lack of defensive intensity that existed in the first two games of the first-round playoff series.

“I think it’s behind us now,” Carter said following Sunday’s team practice. “It was just a great opportunity. I mean, it was just great to come in and everybody was like, ‘Hey, man, it still was a great shot.’ But once practice started we kind of put that past us and we prepped ourselves for tomorrow, because this is just as big as Game 3.

“We had to clean up the things that we needed to clean up to avoid the game-winning shot. There’s some things I think we can do. I mean, yes, they hit some tough shots and they did some things that we couldn’t avoid, but there’s some things that we can clean up to make the game easier for us or try to make the game easier for us that we wanted to clean up to hopefully not put ourselves in that position. But the way the series has gone, it’s been close games and it’s always going to come down to one or two possessions. We know that, so we want to be prepared for that as well.”

Despite overcoming a five-point deficit over the course of the final 2:11 of play, the Mavericks were more so focused on what went wrong defensively the next day after giving up the most points they’ve allowed in the series thus far. And with a better defensive performance in Monday’s Game 4 in mind, the Mavs hope to put forth a more well-rounded effort before the series shifts back to San Antonio.

Allowing the Spurs to shoot 54.3 percent from the field, the Dallas defense struggled to collect stops for the better part of 48 minutes Saturday. Still, with starting 2-guard Monta Ellis taking over offensively late before Carter’s exclamation point to close the game, the Mavs were able to overcome their defensive deficiencies.

Practice Report: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle says the team needs to clean up some defensive break downs from Game 3 and stay the course in terms of their attitude and disposition despite the thrilling Game 3 win.

However, if the Mavericks are going to surge to a 3-1 series lead, that cannot be the case in Game 4, according to 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and coach Rick Carlisle.

“Well, we certainly don’t want to get comfortable now,” Nowitzki explained. “You know, yeah, it was a big win. But, if we lose tomorrow, then we’re tied going to their place with two home games for them. So, you know, we want to keep the same mentality we’ve had the whole time and play hard. I don’t think we played well yesterday. We got away and we stole one. We didn’t execute quite as well as we did in the first two, especially our defensive game plan. Offensively, yeah, we scored enough. I think Monta and Vince bailed us out a little bit the last couple of minutes with some great plays. But, yeah, we’ve got to be better again. We’ve got to be better executing our game plan over the whole 48 minutes to have a chance tomorrow.”

“We’ve got to keep doing the things that we’ve been doing well,” Carlisle added. “We had a lot of defensive breakdowns yesterday that we’ve got to get cleaned up. And more than anything we’ve got to make sure that we stay the course in terms of our attitude and disposition. We can’t have any kind of letdown or hangover because we hit a big shot and got a big win. That’s our focus today. We’ve got things to clean up and we’ve got to stay real serious about keeping on task.”

Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center for Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Spurs on Monday night. The Mavs lead the series 2-1. Game 4 will air nationally on TNT and locally on TXA 21 at 8:30 p.m. CT.

The series schedule is as follows:

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.