Dallas Mavericks

At the Risk of Waking Laura Miller: Mavs-Blazers Series is Over

An MVP. Almost 23,000 points. Ten All-Star selections. Three-Point shooting contest title. Eleven consecutive seasons of playoff berths with 50-plus wins. One of only four players to average 25 points, 10 rebounds in the postseason. Certain first-ballot Hall of Famer. And a unique skill set that makes him the most versatile 7-footer in the NBA today and one of the toughest covers in the history of the basketball

Given those bullet points, you'd think the player would get accolades, much less respect.

But given the fact that he's white -- without a tattoo on his body or a fight on his record -- you'd be dead wrong about Dirk Nowitzki.

My column in this week's Observer has me trying to defend Nowitzki, something no one on the Blazers has yet been able to do. Through two games Dirk has shot only 16 of 42, but he's consistently gotten to the free-throw line and closed both Dallas victories with a combined 32 points in the fourth quarter.

Up 2-0 on Portland heading into tonight's Game 3 at the Rose Garden, the series is over. The advancement of Dirk's legacy, however, is just starting.

"I think I've pretty much done everything in this game except win a championship," Nowitzki said last week, before the start of the Mavs' first-round playoff series against the Blazers. "It's not so much that I want to prove something to my critics. It's just that I want to win. At this stage of my career, every time I don't win a championship it's another disappointment."

Since he can't change his skin tone or his or his relatively docile demeanor, all Dirk can do to change minds ... is fill the only void on his résumé.

The Lakers and Spurs both joined the playoffs with wins last night, and Dallas is 14 long wins from the promised land. But as for this series with Portland, it's -- shh, don't tell Laura Miller -- finito.

The Mavs are up 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time since 2006. Back then it was the NBA Finals and as Dallas left for Miami, the former mayor's office released potential parade routes to the media. Along with Dwyane Wade and suspect officiating, the Heat used the bulletin-board material as movitation to rally to four straight wins and a title that gutted Dallas' basketball fans.

Those wounds are still fresh and, given the history, it's insane to pronounce a Mavs series victory with only 50 percent of the precincts reporting. But, let's face it, this thing is won.

The Blazers -- who are down, out and even crying -- may win tonight. Even Saturday afternoon. Wouldn't be shocked if the series came back to American Airlines Center at 2-2. But the Mavs have been the NBA's best road team the last two seasons with a 55-27 record. Jason Terry hasn't had a breakout game, nor Shawn Marion.

I've eaten crow before and it's disgusting. Not this time.