Much like the rest of this series, the questions have been, “How?” “Why?” and “What in the world?”
But here we are. The eighth-seeded Dallas Mavericks have a chance to knock off the best team in the NBA.
This team will not die. It refuses to die. Nobody gave the Mavs a snowball’s chance in — well, you know — to even contend in this series.
Because of it, we have a Game 7 on Sunday.
In a fourth quarter that would decide their season, the Mavs erupted for 37 fourth-quarter points, featured by 12 of Monta Ellis‘ game-high 29, and somehow, Dallas took Game 6 113-111 over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday at the American Airlines Center.
How? Again, not really sure. But thanks to Ellis’ heroics and the amazing play of DeJuan Blair, the Mavs are heading back to San Antonio with a chance to shock the world.
It’s amazing, really; a team no expert gave any chance to come close, a team few predicted would even carry this to seven games.
A team that no one thought would even have a chance to play this well. Including myself.
I gave this series five games, maybe six. Of the 20 analysts that were asked to predict this series on ESPN.com, 19 of them picked San Antonio to end it in five games. The other one picked San Antonio in six.
Boy, were we ever wrong. All of us.
Defense was not going to carry the Mavs, and the last two games have been evident of that. After seeing Dallas’ interior defense collapse the way it did in Game 5, the odds were not stacked in Dallas’ favor to come back Friday and even this thing up at 3-3.
But this team refuses to die.
Ellis played the game of his life with those 29 points. Dirk Nowitzki — fresh off his best game stats wise in Game 5 — put up a solid 22 points on 11-of-20 shooting. When these two are on like they were Friday, the Mavs are tough to beat. Neither of them have had played a game this series where both have been solid.
It helps to have the threat of both Ellis and Dirk scoring, and Dirk was so efficient early, he wasn’t needed in the fourth quarter. It was Monta Ellis’ world, and everyone was living in it.
The Mavs have a chance to do something they were once on the other end of: An eight seed beating a No. 1 seed. This team will not die.
Everything that’s happened in these first six games are get thrown out the window on Sunday. Everything Rick Carlisle and Gregg Popovich have gameplanned before is irrelevant. It comes down to one game on Sunday, with the winner going to the conference semifinals.
That sounds extremely dramatic, considering this is only the first round. But that’s the thing: This is only the first round, and the Mavs are in a Game 7.
It’s going to be an epic game of unreal proportions. There’s no other rivalry in sports that needs a Game 7 more than the Mavs and Spurs. This is the best rivalry in the NBA, it’s not even close, and this series has further fueled that claim.
Best of all, we could get another one of these.
This team will not die.
See you Sunday.
You can find Danny Webster on Twitter @DannyWebster21.