Off Their Backs: Mavs Hit 'Urgency Meter'

It remains to be seen if the Mavs' big win in Game 2 'flipped the switch' that turns the series away from San Antonio's favor. But in case you're counting at home, it's the Mavs with home-court advantage now, and it's the Spurs looking for an answer. ... and if we think back to Dallas' two NBA Finals appearances against Miami, we know exactly how this can work.

Prior to Wednesday's Game 2 of the playoff series between the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs, much had been made of the fact that the Mavs hadn't beaten the Spurs a single time since winning the title in 2011. And Game 1 was more of the same as the Spurs completely shut down Dallas in the fourth quarter to take the 90-85 win.

But if you're a close follower of NBA history, you knew quite well how irrelevant that winning-streak stat was, and how things can be reversed completely in a playoff series, even after it begins.

And maybe you are therefore not completely shocked at Game 2's Dallas 113, San Antonio 92 result.
Think back with us ... here's a review from Mavs seasons past, including some history we like to forget.

We'll begin by going back to 2006. When the Mavs squared off with the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, they were on the other side of the equation as they had been against the Spurs this week. In the prior 4 seasons Dallas had won seven of eight meetings between the two teams, including sweeping the series for both of the two seasons preceding that playoff matchup. The single Miami win in four seasons had been a one-point squeaker in OT in Miami.

As expected, the Mavs totally dominated Games 1 and 2 in Dallas, and the series shifted to Miami.

In Game 3 the Mavs were again in full control until Miami found something that worked, late in the game, and turned a 13-point deficit into a two-point win with a 22-7 run to close the game. Some of the Heat players described it as the product of desperation, a sense of urgency that couldn't stomach losing, that allowed them to do what had previously seemed impossible.

One win led to another, and before the Mavs knew what had happened, the Heat had won the series and their first NBA title.
After the series was over, Dallas resumed its domination of the Heat. Dallas swept their season series with Miami for the ensuing five seasons, and it was not until Miami won the opening game of the 2011 Finals that they were able to beat Dallas again.

Altogether, for seven seasons in a row the Mavs absolutely owned the Heat on the court - except for that one frustrating, brutal, four-game stretch in the 2006 NBA Finals. Somehow, the Heat found a few tweaks and adjustments, and some luck as well, and flipped the switch from what looked like a one-sided series loss into championship rings.

Of course, the 2011 Finals saw a series swing that went the other way. The Heat were heavy favorites and controlled Game 1 with relative ease. But the Mavs, after being down by 15 midway through the fourth quarter of Game 2, found something that worked, including the desperation that comes from refusing to lose again, and came storming back with a closing 22-5 run to win in the closing seconds.

While Miami was able to squeak out a close win in Game 3, the Mavs then reeled off three straight against the heavily-favored Heat to win their first title.
Was the win by the Mavs on Wednesday another flipping of the switch? Based on recent history between the teams, it was just as improbable a win as the Heat's in Game 3 of the 2006 series.

From the stands, the truth to remember is that in an ongoing series between two teams, things are different. Playing against the same opponent allows adjustments from coaches, and players can learn from their mistakes in ways that are rarely possible in the blur of the regular season. And the "Urgency Meter'' can become completely different than ever before, for one team or another.

"Look, we're mixing things up a lot," Carlisle said. "And we're doing a lot of things that, frankly, we don't want to do but we have to because they're such a potent team and they have such great players. ... It's a monumental task. But we're in this thing to win. We're not in it to just get a split and feel happy. We cannot do that. We cannot let up."

Sometimes, in "not letting up,'' a coach and his team can find something that "mixes things up'' and works, and suddenly the impossible ... isn't.

It remains to be seen if the Mavs' big win in Game 2 flipped the switch. But in case you're counting, it's the Mavs with home-court advantage now, and it's the Spurs searching for an answer.

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