Last night the Dallas Mavericks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-96 to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals. This is the second trip to the Championship in franchise history. The last, coincidentally, was against the Miami Heat, where the Mavs lost in six games.
Once again the Mavs trailed for most of the game, losing every quarter until the fourth quarter where they flipped the switch, with Dirk Nowitzki hitting another clutch three-point shot to seal the win. Nowitzki has been nothing short of spectacular this postseason.
He finished this game with 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals. Shawn Marion also came up big in the win, scoring 26 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 3 blocks. This was, by far, Marion’s best game of the postseason. Marion proved that he can get the job done on both ends of the court. The Mavs will need him to continue to produce if they are going to win the title.
Jason Kidd also was instrumental in this victory despite scoring only 2 points. Kidd had 10 dishes, 7 rebounds (4 offensive), and another steal. J.J. Barea had 14 points, and Jason Terry added 12 coming off the bench.
The Mavs now stand four wins away from bringing home their first championship. Maybe it is just me but this team is giving off a vibe that they simply will not be denied. In the midst of a huge celebration stood the leader of the team; Dirk Nowitzki. While undoubtedly happy to be going to the Finals, Nowitzki seemed far from overjoyed about what the team had just accomplished.
His words confirmed that this was not the goal, but just one step closer to achieving the goal that the team set back in October. They want the ring. Period. Nothing less will suffice. They understand that they are not young. This may be the last time Jason Kidd plays, especially if the predicted lockout comes to pass.
Tyson Chandler and Jason Terry will be free agents. It truly is now or never for this group of players. And they know it. And they want it. They have the “eye of the tiger”. They refuse to give up or give in, no matter how far down they are or how much time is left on the clock.
They have the offense to win a title. They always have had that. Now they have a defensive intensity to match it. The Mavs have size and rebounding down low with Chandler and Brendan Haywood. They may just be the key to beating the Miami Heat, who are all but certain to be the next opponent.
The Mavs have depth, perhaps the best bench in the league. They have an outstanding and underrated coach in Rick Carlisle. They will have a week to rest and prepare. They have already proven that they know how to use that time effectively. The opportunity is before them. Can they bring it home? We shall see…