DALLAS – This is it. Lose and you’re basically done for.
NBA teams that go down 3-0 in the playoffs are a sizzling 0-110 in the history of the sport.
So yes, the Dallas Mavericks face a must-win when they host the Houston Rockets during Game 3 of their first-round match up, Friday at 6 p.m.
Dallas comes home after falling in the first two in Houston. Both times they’ve come out sluggish, had to fight back, only to lose by double digits.
So what’s the mind set for a team down 0-2, facing the fact they could go down 0-3. Nothing really for Rick Carlisle.
“We don’t think about that, we think about what we need to do to play our best. Get our home crowd engaged in the game and we just need to hold court,” he said.
Tuesday night, the Rockets outscored the Mavs by 11 in the fourth in their 111-99 Game 2 victory. Monta Ellis had a team-high 24 points with five rebounds and three dimes while Dirk Nowitzki recorded his 74th career playoff double-double with 10 points and a game-high 13 boards.
Houston began the game with a 7-0 run, but Dallas was able to hold a 24-23 lead heading to the second. The Rockets led by two at halftime while Ellis beat the buzzer to end the third.
But trailing 84-81 in the fourth, Houston used a 30-12 run to turn a three-point lead into a 15-point lead.
Dallas was efficient at the line, going 27 of 28 while Houston was 27 of 35. Dwight Howard went for 28 points and 12 boards while James Harden and Josh Smith combine for 39 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists.
Along with the Rockets 7-0 run, Dallas committed six first-quarter turnovers, which needs to stay at a minimum Friday night.
“We’ve made some adjustments to some of the things they’ve done and we’re going to have to execute those things and do them better,” Carlisle said. “We have to start the game plan efficient, the six turnovers in the first quarter the other night was a problem even though we came out of it with a lead somehow – we got to do better than that tonight.”
The Mavericks also started off slow in their Game 1 loss as Houston got out to a 32-19 lead after one. Dallas cut it to four at halftime before the Rockets were too much down the stretch in a 118-108 victory.
Nowitzki had 24 points and eight boards.
But now, there are more problems than just starting slow.
After his effective Game 1, Rajon Rondo played just 10 minutes during Game 2 and was benched after sustaining a so-called “back issue.” They weren’t sure if it was really a health issue or if he just quit on the team. Either way, Rondo was deemed out indefinitely and is no longer with the team.
When asked if he would ever play in a Mavs jersey again, Carlisle said no.
And now Chandler Parsons, who came into the playoffs injured, played 37 minutes in Game 1 and didn’t play Tuesday. He’s ruled out for the entire playoffs.
With all this distractions, it doesn’t hurt Dallas. The Mavs just have to come out fighting.
“Injuries are part of life in the NBA. Houston has injuries too. Two of their regular guys haven’t been available and other guys are stepping up and that’s what we’ll have to do,” Carlisle said.
“Distractions aren’t the issue, we just have to make sure we’re ready to play.”
J.J Barea is the probable starting point guard tonight while Devin Harris, who missed Game 2, is expected to play Friday.
“He’s doing better,” Carlisle said.
Nowitzki is averaging 25.5 points and 10 rebounds in his playoff career. He needs 11 points to surpass 3,500 career postseason points.