If any nervous sweat existed on the brow of the San Antonio Spurs going into Game 7, it evaporated before the Silver & Black faithful nestled into their seats at the AT&T Center.
And Spurs fans, for those unfamiliar, don’t show up late.
It happened that fast Sunday, as the Spurs imposed their we’re-not-having-anymore-of-this-nonsense will from the opening jump. San Antonio blasted out to double-digit lead midway through the first period and never once bothered to look in the rearview.
"We’re getting back to playing Spurs basketball," Tony Parker said after his series-high 32-point effort.
The Spurs never gave Dallas a chance. The Mavericks were never in it, and so went their shot at beating San Antonio in a road Game 7 for the second time in franchise history. Dirk Nowitzki and Co. were on equal footing with the Spurs the last time it happened, but this was no 2006.
The Mavericks resorted to water-related analogies to describe the onslaught. Dirk said they couldn’t "weather the storm." Dallas coach Rick Carlisle opted for "tidal wave."
So complete was the 119-96 demolition that perhaps the sins of the first six games against an eighth seed are forgotten. Or at least displaced. Can you imagine the Sunday Spurs needing seven games to beat the 49-win Mavs should the series get restarted?
"Today was one of those games that happen once in a while," Manu Ginobili said. "It was great timing. We needed to play one like this. The first three wins we got against them were all decided in the last two possessions. We needed to make key free throws or get stops. We never had a breath of fresh air.
"But today we just played a really good overall game that allowed us to get that lead and then maintain it."
The Mavericks were held to one-and-dones with the ball, while the Spurs were moving the rock with glass-cutting precision to not just get good looks, but great ones. The Spurs shot 68 percent in a 68-point first half. That equals a 22-point spread at the break.
For all the euphoria of Sunday – and nothing beats routing a rival to advance – Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was quick to cool the jets. If it takes seven games to survive the first round in the muscled-up Western Conference, imagine what lies ahead.
The road gets considerably rockier for San Antonio going forward. Should the Spurs maneuver their way through the West, they first need to get past a Portland squad that’s oozing in confidence after exorcising 14 years’ worth of postseason demons. The Spurs and Blazers split four games during the regular season.
The Blazers also feature an inside-outside duo of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge any GM would take right now over Tim Duncan and Parker. Having won a playoff series for the first time since Y2K, Terry Stotts-coached Portland owns the kind of youth and athleticism and moxie that can run the old men of the NBA ragged.
"It is obviously one heck of a team," Popovich said. "We had trouble with them all year long. They have guys on that team that we haven’t guarded yet. They are very talented. They are young and energetic. Terry does a great job. They know what they want to do and they are playing great basketball. It will be a big challenge obviously."
And should the Spurs graduate to another West finals, they’ll find either Mr. Reliable MVP or America’s (New) Team waiting. But the Thunder or Clippers will have to wait. Rip City is next. Seven games, if necessary.