Sunday, April 27, 2008

Getting back to even

The first half of the get-back-into-the-series equation was completed Friday. Tonight at 8:30 inside American Airlines Center, the second half is there for the taking against New Orleans.

“If we lose tonight, all that great effort in Game 3 was wasted,” Dirk Nowitzki said after shootaround today. “We’ve got to do more of the same. The same energy, same focus, try to get the stops, try to make things hard on them and then get the ball in Kidd’s hands and play off him offensively, move the ball and let the fans carry us through.”

Avery Johnson feels his team will treat it as a Game 7 and tie the series at 2-2.

“We felt that way coming into Game 3,” he said. “When we’ve been in situations where we felt we’ve had to win, I liked our team’s body language and focus, so hopefully we feel the same way about this game. We’ve had games this year where had we not won those games, we wouldn’t have even made it to the playoffs.

“And our men felt like we had to have those games and they came out and played accordingly. When we’ve played games without that sense of urgency, we’re not as good. I feel we’ll have it again tonight.”

The Mavs have plenty of experience with 2-0 situations.

“We’ve been on both ends,” Nowitzki said. “We were up 2-0 against Miami in the Finals and ended up losing four straight. We lost both home games [against Houston] before and came back to win, so I think in this league anything is possible.

“We know in this league it only takes one win or one great quarter to come back and win and change the momentum of the series. So to us anything is possible. We’re trying to have a similar effort tonight, have some fun out there, get our crowd going and hopefully go back to New Orleans with a tied series.”

So it’s a must win?

“Pretty much,” Nowitzki continued. “You don’t want to go down 3-1 and then go back to their place. They’ve been great at home all season. They beat some great teams there. They play with confidence and make shots. We’d love to go back tied and put a little pressure on them to perform. They’ve basically got a free swing again tonight, so we’ve got to be ready.”

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