The Mavericks have their first playoff win in six tries and three years.
And we have ourselves a series.
Shocking? Well, raise your hand if you predicted the Mavs breaking their 10-game losing streak to the Spurs by beating San Antonio on its home court by a whopping 21 points.
Continuing their season-long dramatic trend of winning when they should losing and losing when they should win, the Mavs absolutely bullied the NBA’s best team with physical defense and relentless offense. Though we’re never comfortable with a Mavs’ team prone to blowing big leads this season, the final nine minutes of this game were garbage time. Unheard of.
In fact, the 21-point win is the biggest ever for a No. 8 seed on the road against a No. 1. Just as surprising, Dallas did it with defense. The Mavs forced 24 turnovers against a team that averaged only 14 during the regular season. San Antonio’s minus-23-point margin off turnovers is its worst in 10 years.
Pulling off that kind of performance with Dirk Nowitzki producing only 16 points is most remarkable of all. He had lots of help. Monta Ellis attacked. Shawn Marion defended. And even reserve DeJuan Blair had strip-and-steal of Tim Duncan, punctuated by a fast-break dunk.
Even for the Mavs, it was over when Dirk produced a three-point play for a 21-point lead with nine minutes remaining.
I’ll admit, I didn’t see this coming. I thought the Mavs would be lucky to win one game in this series. And after coughing up a late lead in Game 1 I figured they’d be demoralized. But, instead, Dallas took strength and confidence from leading most of Game 1 and the Spurs obviously turned their escape into Fool’s Gold.
Truth is at the 7-minute mark of the 4th quarter in two games the Mavs have held leads of 10 and 23. For all but six minutes they’ve clearly been the best team in this series. They’d be foolish now not to believe they can actually win the series.
But don’t be fooled, Game 2 will be by far the Spurs’ worst game of this series. The Mavs are playing harder and better than San Antonio, but if their effort or execution slips even a little the momentum will do a 180.
Last night was glorious. I thought Devin Harris needed to start to give Dallas a chance. I was wrong. Then again, who wasn’t?
Not even Mark Cuban expected what he saw in San Antonio.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.