Mavs win nba west!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Five long years after the Mavericks’ first trip to the NBA Finals, they’re headed back.
For Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, the only two players left from that team, it’s been an excruciating wait.
It’s that pain that kept driving them Wednesday night in the close-out game of the Western Conference finals.
With Nowitzki nailing a thunderous 3-pointer with 1:14 to play for the Mavericks’ first lead of the fourth quarter, they are headed back to the NBA’s promised land with a 100-96 victory over Oklahoma City at American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks overcame a huge effort by a young Thunder team that served notice it will be tough to beat for many years to come.
“Their time will come, but it’s not now,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
The Mavericks eliminated the Thunder 4-1 in a series that required a monster performance by Nowitzki and a terrific Game 5 from Shawn Marion, who played both ends of the court fearlessly in the clincher.
Marion had 26 points, the same as Nowitzki, and was the point man on a defense that set the Mavericks up for a 17-6 closing push to end the series.
“People can play 15-20 years and never get to the conference finals or even the second round of the playoffs,” Marion said. “I’m fortunate enough to go. And I’m going to make the best of it, too.”
Amid chants of “Beat the Heat” — and Miami has yet to close out Chicago in the Eastern Conference finals — the Mavericks gathered at center court after their frantic rally in the final 5:28 for a jubilant but subdued celebration as owner Mark Cuban received the Western Conference championship trophy.
“We ain’t finished yet,” Cuban said.
The Mavericks were particularly happy for Terry and Nowitzki, the only two players left from the ’06 team.
“I got here the year after that, and it was up and down like crazy,” said J.J. Barea. “We got to the playoffs and it was an upset. We lost in the first round, second round. I know those guys really wanted to get here again. We waited for five years.
“You could tell with Dirk, he doesn’t even want to celebrate. He’s ready to go. And Jason kept saying, we got to win four more. Those two won’t celebrate tonight.”
Well, maybe a little after the way the Mavericks survived.
The Thunder almost pushed them to a Game 6.
The Mavericks were down by eight with eight minutes left and still looking at a 92-86 deficit before Nowitzki and Marion each hit two free throws.
The Thunder was trying to hang on and got a nice flip shot from Kevin Durant before both sides misfired, with Terry heaving two missed jumpers and the Thunder failing to get a shot other than a terrible 3-pointer by Eric Maynor.
After an exchange of baskets, the Mavs got an offensive rebound as Tyson Chandler battled for a rebound that went out to Nowitzki, who hit a 3 with 1:14 to go to put the Mavs ahead, 95-94. The Thunder couldn’t score, and Marion got loose behind the Thunder defense for a dunk and a three-point play that made it 98-94 with 48.9 seconds left.
Maynor missed a 3 and the Mavericks regained control when Nick Collison, who had a terrific game off the Thunder’s bench, threw away the rebound as he was falling out of bounds.
The Mavericks were gritty down the stretch.
“That was a heck of a win,” Nowitzki said.