Can the Mavericks recover?

Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, and all the Mavs are on the brink of elimination.

All was fine and dandy when the Dallas Mavericks were soaring amid a blistering 13-game win streak.

Now? Not so much.

After three consecutive defeats, the Mavericks now face a 3-1 deficit to seasoned San Antonio Spurs, who didn’t seem the slightest bit concerned with their Game 1 loss. As the Spurs know best, losing comes with the territory.

The Mavericks don’t have that same swagger and confidence about them. They’re definitely pressing. It doesn’t help that there’s a looming suspicion that this will be the franchise’s last chance in a long while at an NBA title.

Dallas blew a 48-37 halftime lead to lose 92-89 in Game 3. Dirk Nowitzki, the team’s star, shot just 4-10, representative of the team’s 41 percent shooting for the contest.

The color commentator mentioned during the game that Dirk is the only player Dallas has who can put his head down and score. If that’s the case, they don’t stand much of a chance to win when he’s off.

San Antonio, on the other hand, has three guys — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili — who can get the shot they want without being set up.

So, in the upcoming elimination games, what does Rick Carlisle have to do to win some games?

He has to go away from featuring Dirk so heavily as an isolation scorer. This isn’t a time to take a chance on a hot night. Instead, take advantage of the point guard you gave up Devin Harris for. The point guard who led a decent New Jersey Nets team to two consecutive finals appearances. Yes, let Jason Kidd run the show while he still can.

Obviously Dirk still fits in to the picture. But you need to give Kidd free reign to find the open jumpers for Dirk, Jason Terry, Caron Butler, and the rest.

Instead of letting Duncan or whomever one-on-one defense on Nowitzki, get the ball moving. Get those tired Spurs legs moving. That was Gregg Popovich’s concern all year: keeping bodies fresh.

So, Carlisle, take advantage of your deeper (by far) roster. Or give Nowitzki 18-foot contested fadeaways. Your choice.

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Riding the stars: Dwyane Wade’s Game 3 show

Miami's Dwyane Wade is one of the best crunch-time players in the NBA.

The Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics Sunday in what will likely to amount to a meaningless showing of pride for the boys from South Beach. Boston now leads the series 3-1, and it would take downright magic for Miami to advance to the second round.

Paul Pierce subdued a hopeful Miami crowd in Game 3, sinking a buzzer-beating jump shot to give the puzzling Celtics a stranglehold on the series.

Not to be outdone, Dwyane Wade did his best MJ impression in torching the Mean Green for 46 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists on 66 percent shooting Sunday afternoon.

And it is that not-to-be-outdone spirit that separates the truly elite players from the great ones in the league. Many remember Wade’s earth-shattering Finals performance against the Dallas Mavericks (over 30 points a game, including no fewer than 36 in the last four), and those displays are a testament to what Wade really can do.

There’s no underestimating the star.

There’s no expecting a star to fall. The star can be off all night and knock down a contested three-pointer to tie up the game in overtime. The star could be blistering hot and put his team on his back and carry it to victory with no support whatsoever.

So when Wade goes out and lights up the Celtics like that, he’s making a statement.

“My teammates might not be ready to play in the postseason, but I certainly am.”

And even if the Heat lose in Game 5, a Celtics victory won’t come without a superb effort from No. 3. Wade’s hungry, and the only way to satisfy him is to give him the W.

That said, Wade has more to play for than just an off-chance at an NBA Title. Wade is showcasing himself to the variety of talent that will bless the free-agent market this summer. He wants to let LeBron and Bosh and Amar’e know that, at his side, there’s no limit to a team’s greatness.

To be honest, I thought Miami would win this series. I thought Wade’s excellence would vastly outshine the skills of the aging Celtics. But Boston showed resurgence, and it took a Wade outburst to quell the uprising.

Hopefully, the Heat won’t go quietly and we, the fans, will get more greatness from the series. Why do we watch? Mr. Dwyane Wade.

These stars are so good for the game: They sell tickets, they sell merchandise, and they swell TV ratings. There’s no predicting what Wade or LeBron or Kobe is going to do next, and it’s that anticipation that makes the game so great.

So, Dwyane, even if you fall to the Celtics, don’t fret. Wherever you go, great things will follow. You’re just that talented. And Game 3 reminded us all that Boston actually has a problem on its hands.

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