You know it's a series when the towel-wavers are going at it.
Mavs-Blazers has been relatively friendly. Portland coach Nate McMillan snapped at the refs after Game 1. Mavs owner Mark Cuban was hit in the face by a plastic straw during Game 3 and Brandon Roy pissed off all of Dallas with his Game 4 flurry.
But the blood is apparently finally boiling after a late Game 5
confrontation collision between two players who don't mean jack shit to the series -- Dallas' Brian Cardinal and Portland's Paddy Mills.
The Mavs led by 11 with 18 seconds remaining Monday night at American Airlines Center and inbounded the ball in the backcourt. Having emptied both benches, the game was over. Dallas' J.J. Barea dribbles into the frontcourt, hands the ball to the ref and onto Game 6 we go.
But, no, the Blazers had a different plan. A ridiculous plan that hurt one of their players and their wittle feelings.
Instead of surrendering -- which is the equivalent of the NFL kneel-down -- Portland's Mills pressured Barea near Dallas' free-throw line. The Blazers' Armon Johnson even ran over for a double-team. Cardinal stopped that nonsense, setting a pick on Mills that sent him sprawling into the scorer's table.
No foul was called. Barea finally dribbled out the clock. And, somehow, the bitchin' Blazers have a problem with it.
Says Portland's Wesley Matthews, "I know it's the playoffs and everything, but come on. With four seconds left in the game? But that's cool. I'm not going to forget it, that's for sure."
Here's the deal: Mills and Johnson are annoying, meaningless little runts in this series. If you've been to a game you've seen their act. As soon as a timeout is called, both run -- no, make that skip -- onto the court to over-enthusiastically high-five their teammates. Tie game in the middle of the second quarter? Doesn't matter. Upon the whistle for a timeout those two cheereleaders are running from their bench as if the Blazers just won Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
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Several times Monday night Johnson sprinted onto the court toward a Blazers player so fervently that a couple of Mavs had to dodge him as they walked to Dallas' bench.
As for the pick? It's called basketball. Portland was pressing. Cardinal simply -- albeit violently, yet legally -- relieved that pressure.
You can't play defense without expecting the other team to play offense. Unless, that is, you're an immature team that doesn't know how to play -- much less win -- a playoff series.
If Portland is truly motivated to get revenge on a guy who has played two minutes in the series, Dallas is in great shape for Game 6.