Mavs Shootaround: A 'Loose Edge' For Game 4
LOOSE MAVS: From the moment this first player was cornered by the media on the main court today at the AAC, you could feel a slight shift in the persona of a team that now finds itself down 2-1 in the NBA Finals.
There remained the omnipresent looseness we've seen from this team, only an edge flowed beneath almost every answer. Aggression was mentioned repeatedly, particularly by Jason Terry, and the belief from within the team that they have yet to play a complete game was at the forefront of their responses.
"We still haven't really played an complete game," Tyson Chandler said.
"The reason I'm so optimistic," Terry said, "is because we haven't played our best. So, you got to feel like something's about to happen."
From their tone to the words themselves, this is clearly a team that has not stopped believing they can take this series.
HAYWOOD'S STATUS: First, we'll hear it straight from the man himself.
"(The MRI) just said the swelling went down a lot," Haywood reported. "There's still a strain, a tear, whatever you want to call it, but the swelling went down a lot … If I can sprint, change directions, then we'll give it a try. If I can't sprint, change directions – you can't be in a Finals game if you can't sprint and change directions on the court, that's being selfish."
In essence, he's likely a gametime decision.
There's no denying the fact that Big Wood wants to be on the court, just as there is no getting around the fact that the Mavs are a better team when he's ready to play, but he makes a sound point. If he can't do the things he needs to do to be effective, he can't put his personal desires ahead of what's best for the team.
That said, we'd really love to see him dressed and ready to go tonight.
Ending on a positive note, to some degree, and a bit of humor from Haywood:
"I feel a lot better, but like I said, it feels good walking around, but I don't think LeBron's going to be walking that much out there … I wish he was walking. His walk is like my run anyway. So, it is what it is."
DEALING WITH THE PRESSURE: The herd of media once again spilled onto the court like piranha surrounding bits of chum, forming packs around individual players. Without fail, one of the first questions was, "How are you dealing with the pressure of this game?" stated one way or another.
"This is fun," Terry said. "I mean, you got to love it. You got to love coming here in the morning in shootaround, talking to you all, and then gearing up, you know, take your nap come back tonight, and come out and play.
"Love it," Shawn Marion said. "This is what you live for."
More than any of us, the players appear amped and ready to get Game 4 underway.
"We hate losing," Jason Terry said. "We come off a lose we know we're going to respond."
Undoubtedly, this sentiment echoes that of Mavs fans everywhere, along with the hope that Dallas will respond to the circumstances with a win.
MAVSELLANEOUS: Is LeBron aware of Jet's defiant words? Um, yeah. "We saw it, we watch SportsCenter," James said. "Those guys have a right to say what they want to say." ... Rick Carlisle: We've got to avoid situations where they get the 7-0 runs, the 8-0 runs at the untimely times, and there were three or four of those in Game 3. ..." You get your girl Kelly Clarkson for the National Anthem tonight. ... Props to Stevallica and the Mavs staff for photo help ...
MORE FROM TERRY: Beyond the challenges Terry laid down Monday, Terry maintains his outward confidence in himself and his Dallas Mavericks teammates.
"He will. He will tonight" Terry said when asked if LeBron would be forced to run a lot to keep up with him, before responding on whether or not there would be a lot screens set to slow down James. "Every screen in the building. If he want to run off this big screen (motioning towards the large HD monitors handing over midcourt), he can do that too. All over the place."
Terry kept his answer short, but also replied at the request of the media on what Dirk had to say about him yesterday.
"We'll see tonight," Terry said of his response to those comments, implying his response would come on the court in Game 4.
THE FINAL WORD: The Mavs took the court for shootaround with an edge, and held fast to their confidence in each other, especially if they play to the extent of their abilities. This isn't a team, at least from their words, that is willing to throw in the towel simply by getting down 2-1 in a series.
They're holding themselves accountable and gearing up for another hard-fought contest.
"Whoever you are, if we didn't win, you didn't do your job," Tyson Chandler said.
Tonight, we'll see if the converse of that can be true. If they win, everyone will have done their job.