I hate to say, “what are you going to do?”. But, “what are you going to do?” Think about it. You have a night to eliminate the World Champions on their home court. They throw everything at you. Everything. Even Spurs fans were admitting that they cannot play much better than they did in Game 5. You are at their place. With their fans. And their stars playing like stars.
And you still have a shot to win it. A good one. And a rebound.
Sure, it doesn’t fall, but did we learn something in Game 5 that these two teams have been trying to explain for the last week and a half? That the Dallas Mavericks are now a good enough team that they can take the best punch the San Antonio Spurs have to offer over and over again and can still shrug it off and win? Time will tell. But, honestly, with both teams doing everything they can to beat the other, I am amazed at how good the Mavericks have become. And despite the fact that San Antonio stayed alive by the skin of their teeth, the Mavs should not fear what lies ahead.
They have every chance to win this series on Friday. And, based on the first 3 games in the Alamo city, they will have every chance to win in Game 7 on Monday if it is necessary.
All credit is due to the Spurs for gutting out a win, but I think the Mavericks earned a lot of credit from those Spurs last night, too. The Mavericks and Spurs both showed immense resolve last night. What else is new? Both of these teams have played 3 classics in a row and someone is a few days from their offseason. Nice job of seeding, David Stern.
And now, exclusive Bob’s Blog Observations for Game 5:
• It is almost impossible to explain the performances of Tim Duncan. He has always been great, but I wonder if he has ever been this good. It is almost comical, as Diop, Dampier, and Dirk do everything they can to try to complicate matters for Duncan, but he still shrugs it off and scores again. For a guy coming off a pretty poor season, he is amazing.
• Dirk was everything you want your superstar to be last night. I wonder about the tip in at the end of the game, but for 48 minutes, Dirk wanted the ball and knew what to do with it. Give credit to the Spurs and Bruce Bowen for surviving those last 10 seconds, but Dirk had to make a Mavericks fan proud last night with his two large cajones.
• How about that zone? The Spurs took an 81-71 lead late in the 3rd, and Avery called a timeout and applied a zone defense for the first time in the series. All that did is get about 4 stops in a row, and allowed the Mavericks to cut the deficit prior to the 4th Quarter. I don’t know if you were unaware of this, but Avery Johnson is a basketball genius.
• I enjoyed driving back to the hotel last night and hearing generic Spurs announcer tell me in the post game show, “finally the refs got it right”. Kinda weird, the refs are good when the Spurs win, and the refs suck when the Spurs lose.
• I do have to hand it to Spurs fan. Wow. That is a crowd that is absurd. My ears still hurt. They cheer a basket in the 1st Quarter like it is the game winner. I have no idea how they keep it up for 3 hours, but they really do. That place is loud, and those fans are as advertised. Nuts.
• Manu Ginobili is really clutch on defense. So is Bruce Bowen, obviously, but in the last three games, there have been numerous occasions when Manu sticks his hands in a play and screws up a Mavericks possession. Very underrated on defense, I think.
• The Spurs have dude cheerleaders. I am not kidding. Discuss.
• I am not positive, but I am doubting last night was one of those nights where Keith Van Horn felt he was in the zone. 4 fouls in 3 minutes is a tough way to return to action. Just a reminder to anyone who forgot: The 1997 NBA Draft’s top 3 picks was #1 Tim Duncan, #2 Keith Van Horn, and #3 Chauncey Billups. Rank them.
• I have said it before and I will say it again: I don’t think the winner of this series will have a whole lot left in the tank. Do not underestimate the meat grinder that this series has become.
• You didn’t think that this was going to be easy, did you? Those Spurs were not going quietly. Now, the Mavericks need to hit the accelerator. Game 6 will be the 4th game in 7 days, which has to benefit the Mavericks younger legs. Game 6 will be in Dallas which has to benefit the Mavericks. This is an opportunity that you really don’t want to let pass by.
• Tony Parker has got to be one of the 3 best point guards in the NBA. There is really no way you can convince me he is not.
• Barkley took a shot at the Mavericks for celebrating too much after Game 4. I did not see the Game 5 comments, but let me tell you, the Spurs were pretty freaking happy after Dirk missed that shot. I am sure he let them have it, right.
• Mavericks offensive game plan: Find Finley, Van Exel, or Barry, and whoever they are guarding gets the ball. Repeat until they are taken out of the game. Then, find Finley, Van Exel, or Barry, and whoever they are guarding gets the ball. Repeat.
• Spurs offensive game plan: Post up Duncan. Repeat.
• I cannot wait for Friday night. This should be great.