It looked like Game Five of the Warriors-Mavericks series was following the same script as the rest of the series. The Warriors were raining threes from the heavens, Dirk Nowitzki was crying on the stairwell like Upham in Saving Private Ryan and the Dallas crowd was dead on its feet as they watched the Warriors build a nine-point lead with just over three minutes to play. The clock struck 11 and you could already envision the glorious, gloating posts at Golden State of Mind.
But that's when Dirk remembered he was a pretty decent basketball player. He shook off the jibes of his coach and the nattering nabobs and scored 12 points in those last 180+ seconds to bring the Mavericks back from the brink. The 118-112 win sends the series back to Oakland, a whole 'nother nest of problems for Dallas, and maybe, just maybe, changes the countenance of Dallas enough for them to contend in the loud, inhospitable confines by the bay.
For a change it was the Warriors who looked unable to deal with the pressures of winning a game late. After Baron Davis nailed a three to put the Warriors up nine, he deferred to Jason Richardson and Stephen Jackson, who went ice cold, and didn't take another shot before fouling out with 21 seconds to play. That was a bad call but not nearly as bad a call as Davis, the engine of the upset express, taking a back seat to his teammates with the game on the line. Dallas may have stepped up the intensity of their coverage but when his team needed him to make a play the most Davis didn't.
For Dallas, coming from behind late was a better outcome than a blowout win. They found their legs again, especially Nowitzki, and the Warriors tightened up with the game there for the taking. Those memories will be all that each team thinks about before tomorrow night's game and neither side will take the floor for that tip with quite the same outlook they had when they left Oakland. My outlook will be the same, however. I don't want this series to end because it's breathless, engrossing basketball that has made every other series look like the WNBA.