For years, its been obvious that as great as Dirk is, he can't do it by himself once the playoffs roll around. Unfortunately, knowing what was needed was much easier than actually accomplishing it. Finally, that changed this April. Dirk was his normal self, for the most part, averaging 27 points and 8 boards on 45% shooting from the field, but it wasn't just him. Here's the top five performances by non-Dirk Mavericks in the Trail Blazers series.
1. Kidd in Game One - To open the series, Kidd lights up the Blazers for 24 points on 9-14 shooting. Despite struggling with his shot headed into the postseason (shooting just 19% in regular season games in April), Jason Kidd stepped up big time. He hit six of his ten threes, grabbed five boards, and though he got only four assists, he turned the ball only once.
2. Terry in Game Three - Even though it was in a losing effort, Terry came to Portland with a vengeance. He kept the Mavericks in the game with his shooting. He scored 29 points on just thirteen shots, hitting five of seven from deep, and even picking up seven assists while turning the ball over just twice.
3. Chandler in Game Five - After the face palming collapse in the Brandon Roy Game, many people had their doubts as to whether the Mavericks could bounce back. They did, energized by Tyson Chandler's effort. His twenty rebounds were impressive enough, but his thirteen on the offensive glass were simply ridiculous. He scored fourteen points as well, and, as always, provided a defensive presence that the Mavericks have lacked for years.
4. Peja in Game Two: Labeled an x-factor before the series started, Peja confirmed this status when he went off for 21 points on 8-13 shooting. He hit five treys and contributed five boards as well.
5. Terry in Game 6: This game had many other storylines that overshadowed what Terry did, namely the series victory, but in the first round finale Terry scored 22 points. He shot efficiently too, at 9-16 shooting, and even picked up eight assists. This performance capped off his somewhat surprising impressive series.
Okay, this is good and all, but what does it mean? Let's take a look at another top five list. Here's the top five non-Dirk performances since the Finals, 2007 to 2010 playoffs.
1. Caron Butler in Game 5 of the 2010 1st Round Series - After a poor start to the series, including playing just 13 minutes in Game 3 and being benched for the second half, Butler came out and put up 35 points on 50% shooting in the Mavericks win. He grabbed 11 boards, and even drilled three longballs.
2. Josh Howard in Game 4 of the 2009 1st Round Series - With an surprising 2-1 lead over San Antonio despite being the underdog, a lot of pressure was on the Mavericks to come through on their home court. Howard stepped up to score 28 points on fourteen shots, in part by making 11/13 free throws.
3. Jason Terry in Game 2 of the 2007 1st Round Series - In a series whose pain has been softened only slightly by watching San Antonio also fall to an eight seed, there was little that went right. JET did step up in Game Two, scoring twenty-eight points, though it took 23 shots. He also picked up three steals.
4. Jason Terry in Game 2 of the 2010 1st Round Series - After a game one win, everything seemed fine. Game two was a sudden crash back to reality. Terry did help out with 27 points on 9/19 shooting, hitting three treys, but ultimately it was not enough.
5. Brandon Bass in Game 2 of the 2008 1st Round Series - This might not actually be the fifth best game, but its close enough, and as someone who still is a Brandon Bass fan, I had to include this. Although it was in a blowout loss, Bass scored 19 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. He didn't miss a shot, going 5/5 from the field and 9/9 from the line.
Alright, now compare those two lists. The second one is better, yes, but it spans twenty-seven games and five series. Its ridiculous, really, how little help Dirk has got. Fortunately, that changed in the Portland series. Though it hasn't been a reliable second scorer, different players stepping up big is the next best substitute. If these secondary players can keep stepping up in the Semi-Finals and, hopefully, in following series, then this Mavericks playoff team is much more dangerous than any since the Finals team.