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Mavs-Nuggets: Irrationally Optimistic Game 3 Preview

Before Game 1: Doubtless.

After Game 1: Defiant.

Before Game 2: Determined.

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After Game 2: Depressed.

Before Game 3: Desperate? Delusional? Dead?

Fine, then you tell me. For my prediction of Thuggets in 5 to remain in play, the Mavericks have to win a game at home either tomorrow afternoon or Monday night at American Airlines Center. It'll happen.

Right?

*In all-time Game 3s when trailing a series 0-2 the Mavs are 7-2. So, they got going for them. Which is nice.

*They also have a history of digging out of 0-2 playoff holes. Anyone remember the Houston Rockets series in 2005 (40-point win in Game 7) or the first-round upset of the Utah Jazz in 2001 (Calvin Booth)?

*The Mavs haven't lost three in a row in almost five months, since way back on January 11-14.

*The Mavs are 17-1 at home since February 18.

*The bad news: The Nuggets were involved in those last two bullet points, beating Dallas in Denver by two points on Jan. 13 and by two points at AAC on March 27.

*But in the loss in Dallas, the Mavs played without Jason Kidd and Josh Howard and lost only when Dirk Nowitzki missed an open 17-footer in the final seconds.

*The woman talking to Dirk during Game 3 will be ESPN sideline reporter Nancy Lieberman. Doris Burke will be the color analyst. Pretty sure ex-fiancee Cristal Taylor won't be in the building.

*Honestly, I'm much more troubled by Josh's ankles than Dirk's mindset. You?

*Just be glad this game's in Dallas. Had it been in Denver - where Dirk is already booed upon every touch - the taunting, trash-talking and creative signs would've been brutal. 

*Jason Kidd just isn't this bad. In the series' two fourth quarters he has four assists, three turnovers, no points and zero impact. I'm not surprised by 0-2, but Kidd's vanishing act is shocking. He re-appears tomorrow. Or else.

*Since the game is on ESPN and not TNT, think Avery Johnson has the gonads to take a poke at Kidd? Me neither.

*Jason Terry is a minus-41 points in Games 1-2. He'll have his best game of the playoffs tomorrow. I'm predicting 25+ points and a couple of those trademark flying-arms celebrations.

*Not that he's a tattooed bad boy, but doesn't it seem like the closest thing the Mavs have to a Nugget is Gerald Green? A little pizzazz and a lot of athleticism would go a long way toward morphing this from a slaughter to a series. Worth a try.

*Bad matchups, bad injuries and bad distractions be damned, the Mavericks are too good to get swept.

*Of course, it would help if someone - anyone - would stand up to the Thuggets. Yes, Erick Dampier I'm looking at you.

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