Game 4 pitted the Dallas Mavericks with their theorhetical backs against the wall vs the Miami Heat in the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. The buildup is neccessary primarily because typically a team down 2-1 with two games left to play at home wouldn't neccessarily mean it's a "back against the wall" type of scenario.
But for Dirk Nowitzki and the rest of the Mavs, it couldn't quite get any worse.
The Mavs star power forward registered a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit, epically pushed forward in attempts to bring his team one game closer the coveted Larry O'Brien trophy. With the story lines circulating around 6th man Jason Terry's 4th quarter performance in Game 3, the rest of the Dallas Mavericks' seemed to be able to help out teammate Dirk Nowitzki when he needed them the most.
But there was something missing...
In another defensive battle, the Dallas Mavericks pulled together to even the series with the Miami Heat 2-2. Jason Terry started the 4th quarter with consecutive baskets, giving the Mavericks and an ailing Dirk the inevitable edge they needed to pull out one more, giving them great momentum heading into Game 5.
Despite Dwayne Wade having one of his best performances of his playoff career, the Miami Heat could not close out, once again, when it mattered most down the stretch. Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh both played with their recent usual playoff consistency, scoring 24 and 4, respectively. Udonis Haslem's productiction was not neccessarily on the box score, but as his hustle and aggressiveness under the basket, freeing up Chris Bosh on multiple occasions to hit open shots and break to the basket.
But there was still something missing...
Something the Dallas Mavericks can't be too happy about.
"You don't want to give them two chances to close it out at home, so this is our Game 7 and the last home game for this year in this building," said Dirk Nowitzki. "It should be a great atmosphere and hopefully we can pull it out."
And Dirk also understands the type of pressure Dallas now has with LeBron looking to obviously play a lot more aggressively.
"I expect them to attack like they did in Game 3 where [Dwyane] Wade and LeBron got to the rim a bunch of times early," Nowitzki said. "We've got to be ready defensively. That's where we really made a mistake defensively in Game 3. We weren't ready to play on the defensive end and that's what really got us in trouble."
Rick Carlisle says the pressure is just a part of the job description.
"We love pressure," Carlisle said, "and the more the pressure's on, the better our team has functioned all year long. So bring it on."
So with Game 4 a mere memory and a tie-breaker on the horizon, let's take a look at some of the keys to tonight's match-up.