A majority of the media called it: San Antonio Spurs in five games. Plain and simple. There was no possible way that the eighth seeded Dallas Mavericks, with their speckled defensive methods, would be able to withstand the force that is the veteran Spurs. Dallas looked considerably weak Wednesday night during Game 5, especially on defense, as they still reeled in the controversy of the “kick heard ‘round the world” that occurred with DeJuan Blair during Game 4. They weren’t supposed to get this far.
Well, someone should have told Monta Ellis this.
The Mavericks came out of the gate looking offensively strong during the opening of the game, up a quick 25-21 during the first 12 minutes, but wavered on defense by leaving pretty much all the Spurs open, especially Danny Green (who had averaged 3.4 points in the first five games) who put 12 points on the board for San Antonio during the first. Despite their defensive woes, Dallas attacked the basket head-on, and closed the quarter leading 34-26. Second quarter was much of the same, with the Mavs pushing the ball as the Spurs snuck up from behind, coming within three points (48-45) with 2:49 remaining in the first half. With the help of Jose Calderon and Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks outshot the Spurs 51% to 48.6% and led 58-52 going into the locker room.
After receiving (probably) a quick water boarding by head coach Gregg Popovich during the half, the Spurs came out swinging and took their second lead of the game in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Among other altercations, Calderon was sidelined with a bloody nose, Nowitzki appeared confused as he couldn’t get threes to drop, and Mavs’ guards were stumbling while attempting to perform risky moves. Spurs led after the third 81-76.
The fourth was all Ellis, however. After trailing 86-90 with 7:19, the Dallas guard put up so many magnificent three-point plays that Popovich’s head nearly exploded. Mavericks took a 97-92 lead with 4:25 left on the board. Ellis wouldn’t slow down in the final minutes and the Spurs could only watch in horror as he took the reins for his “underdog” team, and put up eight points in less than two minutes. San Antonio refused to go down without a fight, and came within one point (105-106) with 49.4 seconds left. It was Game 3 hero Vince Carter who hit a pair on the line with 32.5 seconds left to bring the Mavs up 108-105. It all came down to San Antonio’s final shot after they got the ball with 1.3 seconds left, but it was Patty Mills’ shot that failed to fall as he desperately threw the ball from the top of the arc.
The Dallas Mavericks, giving their naysayers the finger, would go on to win 113-111, forcing a Game 7 on Sunday back in San Antonio.