LOS ANGELES -- So what happens if, say, the Dallas Mavericks are playing superbly in tonight's Game 1 and are up, oh, 15 to 18 points with the clock ticking down to about one minute left in the third quarter?
Can they clamp down defensively and secure the win? Does the offense bog down? Does the lead evaporate in a matter of minutes?
It's a legitimate question. The Mavs spent the season building leads and quickly losing them. It didn't end with the regular season. Brandon Roy led a 23-point comeback in Game 4 and the Portland Trail Blazers closed a 17-point deficit with 1:25 left in the third to 86-85 with five minutes to play before losing.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle contends that the Mavs are not alone in the blown-lead department.
"The Lakers have lost leads. Boston’s lost leads. Miami’s lost leads. Hey, it happens," Carlisle said. "For us, headed into this series, we’re going to have to be extremely aggressive and play really smart. And whatever the situation, we’re going to have to be in attacking mode. We talk about how we’re going to attack and how we’re going to be successful. We don’t talk about the negative things."
Perhaps all those teams do blow large, double-digit leads in the second half, but it seems the Mavs have done it on a more regular basis. Against the Los Angeles Lakers, such blown leads would have to seem like Russian roulette.
"That's just the playoffs," Shawn Marion said. "We've seen every team in the playoffs, Eastern and Western Conference, have big leads and come back and then get that close again. You might get cold and they might get hot. It's that kind of situation, but you just got to stay after it and stay consistent with what you're doing and most of the times you will prevail."