3-pointer: Can road-lousy Mavs steal one?

April, 27, 2012
4/27/12
9:00
AM CT
The Dallas Mavericks lost their third consecutive road game in Thursday’s regular-season finale at the Atlanta Hawks. The team that won 28 games on enemy turf a season ago, won 13 of 30 this season.

After Thursday’s 106-89 pummeling at the hand of the Atlanta Hawks, who needed the win to ensure home-court advantage and in which Jason Kidd did not play, the Mavs notched their 20th road loss. That striking total is more than any other Western Conference playoff team outside of the the eighth-seeded Utah Jazz with 22.

By comparison, the No. 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs went 22-11 on the road and the No. 2-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder, the team Dallas will play in the first round, went 21-12. That means the Thunder are 26-7 at Chesapeake Arena, where they open the first-round series against the Mavs at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki , entering his 12th consecutive postseason, said he’s not worried about the team’s road futility.

"For this last decade or whatever, we've always been a good road team," Nowitzki said. "We're not scared to go on the road. We got a lot of experience, so I think we're ready."

A year ago, the Mavs transferred their road superiority in the regular season right into the playoffs. After dropping their first two road games at Portland, they reeled off five consecutive road wins and seven of their last nine on their way to the NBA title.

Offering hope at this point of the season is the fact that Dallas is healthy and the light schedule in the final week has afforded their key veterans such as Jason Kidd to take games off and for others such as Nowitzki to play limited minutes.

"That was our dress rehearsal," Kidd said of the regular season. "Now the goal is to fine a way to win on the road and see if we can better that record."

It would seem a prerequisite to advance to the second round.

Here's three more things to ponder as the Mavs prepare for Saturday's postseason opener at OKC:

1. Can Jason Kidd raise his game?: If ever there was a team to make Kidd feel his full 39 years, it is the baby-faced Thunder. Kidd enters the postseason with career low averages of 6.2 points and 5.5 assists. Kidd is the key to the Mavs' flow offense and he is an asset beyond the arc when he is making his 3-point shot, but that has also been in short supply this season.

2. Mind over athleticism?: No matter how you slice it, the Thunder's athleticism is superior to that of the Mavs' at just about every position. Turn the ball over and watch OKC run down the floor for slam dunks. Don't box out and watch the Thunder score second-chance points. Don't rotate quickly and help on defense and watch the Thunder go to the free throw line -- only the Nuggets averaged more per game. Dallas will bank on its experience and savvy to win out over athleticism, particularly in crunch time.

3. What's next for Rodrigue Beaubois?: So Roddy B had another pretty good Thursday at Atlanta with 13 points, six assists and five rebounds while playing with the dislocated left ring finger. He's received extended playing time the last two games with Jason Kidd sitting out. Now attention turns to how coach Rick Carlisle will use him against the Thunder. Could Roddy be valuable as another defender on Russell Westbrook? Could he make Westbrook expend energy on defense? Is Roddy a true X-factor or will he spend another playoffs mostly watching the action go by?

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9