The Mavericks were relaxed at Saturday’s practice ahead of tonight’s Game 7 in Phoenix, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Coach Jason Kidd, who had plenty of experience with pivotal playoff games during his playing career, is urging his team to enjoy the opportunity and “stay in character” the way it has done all season.
In NBA history, road teams only have a 23.2% success rate in seventh games, and the challenge is particularly daunting for Dallas, which has lost all three games of the series in Phoenix and was destroyed by 30 points in Game 5. But the Mavs are optimistic after responding with a dominant performance of their own Thursday night.
“It’s an emotional lift for us,” Spencer Dinwiddie said. “Obviously Phoenix was the best team in the league in the regular season. Obviously they’re at home, hostile environment. But you know, they also say a Game 7 typically goes to the best player and I believe we have that in this series. It’s going to be an exciting clash of styles.”
There’s more from Dallas:
- Frank Ntilikina missed the Mavericks’ first-round series with Utah following a tonsillectomy, but he has been an important contributor against Phoenix, notes Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News. Ntilikina was barely used by the Knicks in last year’s playoffs and had a disappointing four-year run in New York. He’s thankful to get a second chance with Dallas, which signed him in September without requiring him to work out. “Definitely it was stress and tension back then,” Ntilikina said, referring to his time with the Knicks. “But I stayed with it like every player should do and stayed confident in my work. Now I’m just glad to be here preparing for a Game 7, preparing for [Sunday].”
- Kidd wasn’t with the Mavericks when they lost Game 7 to the Clippers last season, but he believes being in that environment will benefit them today, Carlton states in the same story. “Guys who participated in it understand what it means so you don’t have to explain what Game 7 means,” Kidd said. “It’s about us executing the game plan and giving us a chance.”
- Suns forward Jae Crowder has strong memories of his first Game 7, which happened when he played for the Mavericks in 2014, Carlton adds. “Yeah, I had a lot of vets on my team. I had Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki,” Crowder said. “Those guys just talked about the atmosphere, how it was going to be enhanced, how much emotion was going to be in the game. Still, whatever they told me wasn’t enough. It didn’t put in what’s at stake and the emotions behind it. Obviously going through it helped me a lot.”