PORTLAND, Ore. – It’s hyperbole to say that nobody believed in the Mavs, but they were probably the most doubted 57-win team in NBA history entering the playoffs.
Portland was a trendy upset pick, in large part due to the Mavs’ troubling trend of premature playoff exits. That recent history combined with the fact the Mavs won only one of their final 10 games against West playoff teams caused many -- and I’m guilty -- of projecting the Mavs to be on vacation by May again.
“Everybody thinks we didn’t have what it takes,” Mark Cuban said. “Everybody was a prognosticator. Everybody was wrong. Our guys just showed a lot of heart, so I’m really proud of them.”
TNT’s Charles Barkley is driving the Mavs’ bandwagon in the second round, having declared that they’ll defeat the two-time defending champion Lakers in six games. That will be a minority opinion.
“Not a lot of people picked us to win this series. Not a lot of people are going to pick us to win the next series,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who has repeatedly referred to the Lakers as heavy favorites to win the West. “We’re just going to go out there and keep competing, play smart and play off each other like we have all season, and we’ll see what happens.”