Though the day’s big hoops story is unquestionably the defending champs’ first round exit at the hands of Da Bulls, we’ll go back in time about 24 hours, in which the New York Post’s Peter Vescey previews Game 4 of the Mavs/Warriors series with some harsh words about Friday’s debacle, to wit, “never has a team that’s won so many games (67) surrendered so unconditionally (Game 3) and decomposed so rapidly from jump street.”

The Warriors should be brought up on charges of identity theft; the Mavs’ minds are messed up, cuz. Heads are hanging. Eyes are glazed. Feet are frozen. Focus is adrift. They’re folding to pressure on the free-throw line long before the shots become must makes. Nobody scored a single point Friday that remotely mattered, that’s how quickly Dallas was out of it.

Meanwhile, the Warriors are running a full-court layup line. Mav-wrecks are allowing opponents to beat them down court and off the dribble. Effortlessly! Off half-court sets, no less! How can you let your man blow by continually when you know your “Help!” isn’t quick enough to react!?

Where’s the Mavs’ energy? Where’s the rage? Where’s the pride? Where’s the basketball HiQ? They say they hate losing. Prove it! The most anger they showed Friday was directed at the refs.

Yesterday, Avery Johnson had his players studying film early in the a.m. before going to practice for three hours. You didn’t have to be there to know the No. 1 topic of conversation was transition defense. In order to regain their confidence and take control of the series (yes, one lousy win in Oakland might be enough to do it) it’s imperative for the Mavs to retard the pace today and slice the Warriors’ fast-break points roughly in half from an indefensible 40 in Game 3.

How is that done? Open up the middle and honor spacing. Attack off pick-and-rolls and pull up for simple springers instead of risking charges. Set picks to free scorers and get to the welfare line like in Game 2.

The Boston Globe’s Shira Springer correctly points out that setting Sebastian Telfair’s contract on fire will not absolve the Celtics of their obligations towards the point guard…but threatening to do so effectively killed Telfair’s already low-value on the open market.

Following the arrest and subsequent remarks from Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck that Telfair had played his last game in a Boston uniform, a league source said the one-for-one deals had evaporated, leaving executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge with little bargaining leverage.

The best deals always dry up when players and teams reach a point of no return. Just ask the 76ers, who had Allen Iverson then Chris Webber dangling, or the Pacers, who knew Ron Artest needed a new home long before he found one.

Ainge basically has two viable options: pursue a multi-player package deal or waive Telfair. The good news for Danny Ainge is that several teams expressed interest in Telfair after Grousbeck’s comments sparked false reports that the point guard had been released.

If you’re thinking the Celtics could nullify Telfair’s contract, don’t bank on it. Historically, nullifying a contract is never easy and never absolves a team entirely from financial obligation. The Vin Baker saga is well-known to fans in these parts, but don’t forget about the Raptors and Nate Huffman or the Warriors and Latrell Sprewell.