The Dallas Mavericks had some terrible stretches in Game Five, just like in Game Four. The only difference was that this time it came in garbage time instead of with the game on the line.
But the Mavericks were able to get some quality garbage time (and just so you know how garbage it was, Matt Carroll logged a few minutes) due to the two ex-Wizards, Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler, finally making their presence known.
In Games One through Four, Butler averaged 14.5 points per game on 38.6 percent shooting, while Haywood averaged 8.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Not exactly what Mark Cuban had in mind when he shelled out tens of millions of dollars to bring the duo over for a playoff run.
Haywood's poor play went largely unnoticed, mostly because it has been impossible to ignore Butler's. The local media and blogosphere alike took to savaging Caron's play.
Wizards fans/writers/bloggers seemed to take particular relish in the fact that Butler was exhibiting every negative trait that helped lead to his exit from D.C., but also several seasons of unrealized expectations.
I was right up there with them, and I think we were all pretty justified. And even though Caron helped the Mavs lay a beat down on the Spurs in Game Five with a career-high 35 points and 11 rebounds.
But besides the ball going in the hoop instead of clanging off iron, the play wasn't much different from Caron's side. He still shot the ball almost every time he touched it. I recall one pass from him the entire game. And I was paying close attention.
But he made his shots, exactly 50 percent of them. And he had some great looks, which certainly helped.
The Mavericks' offense seemed to space the floor much better, and as a result, Caron found himself with the best looks he's had all series, and he capitalized.
The Spurs better hope that this in-sync Maverick offense doesn't show up in San Antonio Thursday.
And Brendan Haywood was also fantastic. The man who might as well have been a screen door against Tim Duncan in Games One, Two, and Three.
Sure, his eight-point, eight-rebound game might not look impressive, but look at where his points game from. Six of them from the free throw line, and he took 12 shots from the charity stripe.
That's a huge number for Haywood. Haywood, and the rest of the Mavs, were all out attacking the rim with a viciousness that I like to see.
And when DeJuan Blair drew his fourth foul in the second quarter, that took one Spurs weapon away, one who helped make up for a 1-for-9 Tim Duncan performance in Game Four.
Now that we've seen the ex-Wizards make their first playoff impact appearances, suddenly things are looking up.
If the Mavs can take Game Six in ol' San Antone, then it's a Game Seven back in Big D. And if Butler and Haywood continue the way Game Five went, I the Spurs might be in for a hell of a fight.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!