W2W4: Have Mavs reached blow-it-up phase?
Well, that point might actually be upon the Mavs' owner as his club faces the prospects of being swept out of the first round of the playoffs on the heels of winning it all. Not exactly the way a defending champion wants to go out, but it's a path that Cuban can't claim will have come as a total shock.
The owner decided to dismantle the title team and play the free-agent game in the summer. And once this season comes to a close, whether it melts away tonight or in Game 5 in Oklahoma City on Monday or somewhere stays alive beyond the that, the names on the jerseys are going to change.
Check out the list of names that could be making their final appearances tonight:
* Shawn Marion
* Brendan Haywood
* Delonte West
* Jason Kidd
* Jason Terry
* Rodrigue Beaubois
* Ian Mahinmi
* Brian Cardinal
* Dominique Jones
* Yi Jianlian
The only player guaranteed to be back is Dirk Nowitzki. A few guys would seem likely to be back, such as Vince Carter, who has two more years left on his deal, Brandan Wright, who the Mavs would figure to pick up the team option, and Kelenna Azubuike, who they acquired late in the season and have under contract for next season.
Otherwise it's wide open, and much will depend on where super free-agent-to-be Deron Williams lands. It will be a busy July around here. The Mavs would like to at least keep things going a bit longer in May.
Series: Oklahoma City Thunder leads, 3-0
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
TV: TNT/TXA 21
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Level of play. Coach Rick Carlisle continued to emphasize Saturday morning that the Mavs' effort was up to snuff in Game 3 and that it was their level of play that let them down. In that case, the Mavs' season must hinge on whether they can make baskets, hold onto the basketball and keep the Thunder from making more baskets. If they do that, then they should win and extend the series.
Key matchup: Kevin Durant vs. Shawn Marion
As terrific as Marion's defense was on Durant in the first two games, Durant got off early in Game 3 and scored 21 of his 31 points in the first half. Needless to say, that can't happen again. Marion will turn 34 on Monday. Depending on how well he can defend Durant tonight will determine if he's celebrating another year in Oklahoma City before a Game 5 or while on vacation.
Injuries: Thunder -- G Eric Maynor (torn right ACL) is out. Mavs -- None.
Up next: Game 5 -- Mavs at Thunder, 7 p.m. Monday (if necessary)
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.