By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"It's a disappointing game from our perspective," Carlisle said. "San Antonio really brought up their level of aggression. We've got to regroup, and we've got to do a lot of things better."
You can X and O this series to death, but with a rivalry fueled by ancestry (the Spurs were born as the ABA's Dallas Chaparrals) and address and animosity, it will likely be decided by emotion and effort. When the Mavs maximize and channel their energy into defense and rebounding, they can beat any team anywhere. But if they rest on their shallow laurels and, like Monday night, get out-rebounded, 44-28, they will lose the next three games and spend the summer explaining a third consecutive first-round exit.
Recent history, however, says the Mavs will ingest the doom and gloom and use it as fuel for an inspired effort Thursday night. They went a league-best 15-1 at home after February's All-Star break, losing only to the Denver Nuggets by two points without Kidd or Josh Howard. And, above all else, they are resilient.
Most confounding stat in a confusing season: Ten times Dallas lost by 15 or more points. In the next game it went 9-1.
Only way to make sense out of that is to accept that the Mavericks thrive on adversity and flounder amidst prosperity. If that's the case, they win Game 3, lose Game 4 and head back to San Antonio next week with the series 2-2. As I predicted before the series, the Mavs eventually lose Game 7.
Maddening it is, daring to invest in these Mavericks. Unbeatable one night, uninspired the next. It's like buying the fastest, coolest car on your block, only to have it not start once a week.
After Monday's 105-84 embarrassment, owner Mark Cuban sent out a terse Tweet via Twitter: "I hate to lose. Back to Dallas to get back on track."
Let's hope this latest debacle again has his players equally mad and appropriately motivated.
The Mavericks are good enough to beat the Spurs. But are they tough enough to defeat their devil?