Heading into the 2010-2011 NBA season the Dallas Mavericks were viewed the same as they had been for recent years, a 50 plus game winning team that could make noise in the playoffs but wasn’t a favorite to win the NBA Title. After their collapse in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat after going up two games to none, the Mavs were viewed as a team that choked and rightfully so. The Mavs didn’t do their selves any favors by following that season up by becoming the first team in NBA history to be the number one seed in the playoffs and lose to the number eight seed in a best of seven series. The Mavs were tagged with a “soft” label after their first round exit to the Golden State Warriors in the 2007 playoffs. A team that you could beat in a series by being physical at all times. Basketball fans didn’t see the greatness that is Dirk Nowitzki like Mavs’ fans saw every game night; and going into the 2011 NBA Playoffs little did NBA fans or experts expect the Big German to carry the Mavs team and the city of Dallas on his back to an NBA Championship.
After finishing the regular season with a 57-25 record and earning the number three seed in the Western Conference, the Mavs drew a first round match up against the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite being the better seed and having home court advantage, many NBA experts picked Portland to beat the Mavs because they felt the Trail Blazers were a great match up against the Mavs, much like the Warriors were back in 2007. But the Mavs didn’t care what the experts predicted; the Mavs defended home court and went up two games to none on Portland. Despite losing Game 3, the Mavs found themselves with a 20 plus point lead on Portland in Game 4 and with a win they would go back home up 3-1. Suddenly, the Mavs of old showed up and Portland, led by Brandon Roy, stormed back and stole Game 4 to even the series at two games apiece.
At this point everyone felt Portland had control of the series and would go on to win the series as expected. Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, the Mavs decided to change how people expected things to go and came out swinging at home for Game 5. The Mavs, led by Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Jason Terry, would go on to win Game 5 and take a 3-2 lead. Yet even after the Mavs won Game 5, people still expected the Mavs to find a way to choke and lose the series to Portland. Again the Mavs had to show they were different from Mavs’ teams of recent years and had to go to Portland for Game 6 and close out the series. Even with a late game, fourth quarter rally by the Trail Blazers, the Mavs were able to hold on to their lead and finish off Portland.
Much to the surprise of many NBA experts, the Mavs were able to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 4-2. In the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs the Mavs were able to beat the team that matched up well against them. Dallas now advanced to the second round only to find the defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers waiting for them.