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Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Mavs know how to close out games

By Calvin Watkins

If there's one thing these NBA playoffs have taught us, the Mavericks know how to close out games.

In the first round series vs. Portland, the Mavs went up 3-2 and closed things out on the road in Game 6, winning, 103-96. The defeat forced Portland to fire its general manager a few weeks after the series was over.

The conference semifinals was a shocker.

Dallas knocked off the two-time defending champs, Los Angeles Lakers, in an embarrassing Game 4 sweep, 122-86. It was the last game of Phil Jackson's coaching career and most likely start a fury of offseason moves by the Lakers.

Now the Mavericks have a chance to finish off Oklahoma City.

Up 3-1 in the series, the Game 4 victory might have been the grittiest effort in Mavs playoff history. Down 15 with about five minutes left, the Mavs forced overtime and won it.

Now Dallas can end the series against a clearly stunned Oklahoma City Thunder team.

"Past history doesn’t mean much to us," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Right now we’re really focused on the here and now. We’re five wins a way from our goal and it's important to see that big picture. That's why this next game is important because it's another opportunity for us, in terms in things that have gone in the past, none of that stuff matters."

In his 14 minute press briefing with reporters outside his office at the American Airlines Center on Tuesday afternoon, Carlisle talked about rebounding being a factor for this team. The Mavs are getting outrebounded by eight boards a game. Carlisle also didn't like the early game turnovers that put his team behind the Thunder.

He said his group was beaten up most of the night. At least until the final frantic five minutes where the Mavs rallied to tie the score and win. One of the key plays was a Shawn Marion block of a Kevin Durant three-point attempt. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd also hit key shots, and Kidd forced a critical steal down the stretch.

"It's an opportunity," Carlisle said of closing out the series. "A couple of things that I feel are important: No. 1 we got to have a loud crowd. We got to have a crowd that’s insane tomorrow night. That’s how Oklahoma City was, that’s how Portland was and that’s how our fans were in the Laker series. They were off the charts, that helps especially when you’re trying to push over the top and win a game in a close out situation. Second thing is rebounding. It's a big thing, turnovers early in the game last night, really hurt us and got them going and those are two areas we have to address."