DALLAS -- Coach Rick Carlisle swears his psychology degree from the University of Virginia wasn’t of any more value than usual while preparing his eighth-seeded squad for this series.
“Our guys have been competing hard all year,” Carlisle said. “Sometimes matchups are difficult. Whatever. Who cares? When you get an opportunity like this, this is a privilege. It wasn’t a hard sell.”
Maybe not in the Mavs’ locker room, but it sure was to the masses of NBA-watching skeptics stunned to see Dallas snap a 10-game losing streak to San Antonio in such dominant fashion, spanking the Spurs for the most lopsided road win by an 8-seed over a 1-seed in NBA history.
It’s easy to believe the Mavs can at least give the Spurs a serious scaring after seeing Dallas outplay the No. 1 seed for the vast majority of two games at the AT&T Center despite a couple of off shooting days for Dirk Nowitzki.
It’s clear the Mavs have no fear of the Spurs. They weren’t even satisfied with a split in San Antonio after Wednesday night’s whuppin’, still angry about letting a golden opportunity slip away in Sunday’s series opener.
“Game 1 actually helped a lot more [Game 2],” Nowitzki said. “We were down after Game 1, but, in this building, to be up 10 with six or seven minutes left, I think that gave us a lot of confidence.”
But the Mavs’ belief they could beat the Spurs, based on nothing but hope and self-confidence to start the series, has been boosted significantly. It’s no longer just a belief. The Mavs know now they can beat the Spurs if they stick to Carlisle’s plan, maintain the same edge or disposition or whatever Carlisle term you prefer, and keep letting it rip, as a certain 7-footer likes to say.
“Even with a loss, we left Sunday in San Antonio with a lot of confidence because we knew what we had to do,” point guard Jose Calderon said. “And we did it again.”
That long losing streak to San Antonio is a distant memory to Dallas. Selective amnesia allowed some Mavs to wipe it from their memory as soon as they were matched up with the Spurs in the first round.
It certainly wasn’t a subject of discussion for the Mavs, other than dismissing pesky questions from media cynics.
“We never talked about any of that kind of stuff,” Carlisle said. “That’s all negative stuff. When you start a playoff series, you’re starting from square one. That’s the way you’ve got to approach it. I didn’t care about any of that stuff.
“If anything, it was just more motivation for us. It’s been tough all year. Nothing’s come easy for us. That’s why losing Game 1, the way that happened, was just another test of fortitude.”
It’s back to square one for Game 3, with the Mavs a big step ahead of where most expected them to be. There’s no doubt now that the Spurs are in for a fight this series.