There's plenty of keys to Game 4 that the Mavericks are focusing. Keep Chandler out of foul trouble. Get Dirk going early. Prevent Brandon Roy from making any significant impact. Make the effort to get back into their transition defense so LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace can't get easy scores.
One key of utmost importance, though, is limited turnovers. And if the Mavericks have any plans to make a deep run into the NBA Playoffs, this needs to hold the same importance in every game moving forwards.
Game 3 had the Mavericks committing sixteen turnovers. Despite shooting better, 52% to 48%, and getting to the line more often (misses from the stripe also hurt, but that is an uncharacteristic problem, especially Dirk's three misses), the Mavericks kept giving possessions away by careless and sloppy plays. Every player who logged minutes, besides JJ Barea, committed at least one, and five players committed two. Jason Kidd lead the team with five, including one inbounds pass which he attempted a half court pass which was easily picked off. Reduce the number of sixteen by five or six, and it's likely the Mavericks have a 3-0 lead in the series.
In contrast, Game 2 shows just how dominant the Mavericks can be when they don't turn the ball over. The last turnover of the game occurred with 4:41 left in the 2nd quarter, where Dirk was called for a (somewhat questionable) charge. From there on, the Mavericks never turned the ball over, ending the game with just six, and ended up winning by 12 points. In Game 1, the Mavericks had 13, a number that easily could have been less without Dirk having six.
This problem will not be the easiest thing to fix, however. Since the month of January, where the Mavericks posted their fewest turnovers at just 12.3 a game, the numbers have steadily gone up. In April, the Mavericks where giving the ball up over fifteen times each game.
What does a turnover mean to the Mavericks, though? The Mavericks were the team with the fifth best field goal percentage this season, hitting about 48% of their shots. A turnover means that a 48% chance of scoring points because 0%. Two turnovers basically equal two (or possibly even three) points. Is this an extremely simplistic view of it? Yes, of course, but there is still some truth to it. Turnovers hurt, and without the team having an elite ability to hit threes or to get to the free throw line, its hard to overcome unforced turnovers.
Oddly enough, it may not be as hard as it seems to keep the turnovers in check tonight in Portland. The Mavericks average 1.4 fewer turnovers on the road this year. It'll be interesting to see whether that dominant Game 2 Mavericks team that looks like it could cause havoc will make another appearance, and from what we've seen its going to depending on how they take care of the ball.