When will we put away the stupid meme that the Dallas Mavericks are soft? Hopefully, we can now that the Mavericks did what they did to beat the Blazers in Game 5. All weekend, we had to hear about how the Mavericks are choke artists that would blow this series like they blew Game 4 in Portland. In the end, Dallas got tough and won Game 5 with one of the grittier performances you'll see.
Dallas scrapped and clawed, especially in that third quarter. They attacked the basket instead of settling for jumpers. They pounded the offensive glass, with Tyson Chandler procuring 13 all by himself. They did this even though Portland is the bigger, taller and more athletic team. Dallas shot 3-17 from three-point range and just 41 percent from the field, yet they still won by 11 because it did things the tougher team should do. The Mavericks outrebounded Portland 49-37 and took 35 free throws.
Who was the man who set the tone? Yup, it was supposed soft superstar Dirk Nowitzki. We think of Dirk as just a jump-shooter, but that's unnecessarily demeaning. Only six of his 18 field-goal attempts on Monday were outside of the paint, and that's not including all those possessions that led to his 11 free-throw attempts. This despite the Blazers checking Nowitzki with a taller, longer and more athletic big man in LaMarcus Aldridge for much of the game. Dirk had his shot blocked and/or altered several times, but that didn't stop him from attacking the rim. His team followed and got a huge, huge win.
Dallas isn't perfect. But they are most definitely not soft.