DALLAS — The challenge for the Dallas Mavericks Friday night after losing game five is simple: defend their home court.
“We've got to pick it up going into game six,” said Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle.
“We've just got to get after it,” said Mavericks forward Shawn Marion. “We know what's at stake here coming back home. We've got to bring it.”
That means their physical and mental approach has to be flawless.
“Well, whatever percent it is physical or mental, we've got to get it fixed for tomorrow,” Carlisle said. “It’s a combination of both things.”
The Mavericks need to figure out how to defend the Spurs' pick and roll offense and defend the paint. The return of DeJuan Blair after a one-game suspension should help.
“I'm going to leave it all out there,” Blair said. “I just want to go home. That's the mentality I'm bringing into the game, that's the mentality we'll have the team bringing into the game. We've just got to keep going.”
“It starts with defense,” Carlisle said. “Our obsession has got to be at the defensive end first and that will lead to better things offensively."
"They've been hurting us with pick and rolls, no doubt about it," he continued. "Today we spend a lot of time on our pick and roll defense, execution which needs to be a lot better. We've got to do it better and we've got to do it harder."
“We have to contain those guys better," Marion said. “Guys going for career highs and stuff, we can't allow that. We've just got to come with more force and be the aggressors.”
Dallas beat the Spurs back to back in games two and three. It will take another two game winning streak to win the series.
“Every time you’re down to an elimination game, your thinking about the next game,” said Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki. “You're thinking about winning a home game.”
Dallas trails the best of seven series three games to two. A win Friday would force game seven in San Antonio on Sunday. Lose game six and the season will come to an abrupt end.
“When you're facing elimination, there is no tomorrow,” Marion said.
While the Mavericks lost game six, they still managed to set an NBA record. Vince Carter and Nowitzki became the first pair of NBA teammates, age 35 or older, to each score at least 25 points in a playoff game. It will take that effort, perhaps even more for the Mavericks to force a game seven.