Quantcast 2011 NBA western Conference Finals: Oklahoma City vs Dallas

 

NBA Western Conference Finals Game 5 - Dallas 100, Oklahoma City 96 - Mavericks wins series, 4-1

 

It isn’t how you begin, it’s how you finish. That mantra was never truer than in the 2011 NBA Western Conference Finals. The Dallas Mavericks, for the second straight game, came up with the big plays when it mattered the most. After closing their Game 4 come-from-behind victory on a 17-2 run just two nights ago, the Mavericks were up for a sequel. As a result, there won’t be a sixth act in this series. There also won’t be another game for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season.

Dallas turned a 90-83 deficit with 5:48 remaining into a four-point victory on Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Once again it was Dirk Nowitzki who paved the way, although the former MVP had help from teammate Shawn Marion. With Oklahoma City leading 94-92 and the clock ticking under the 1:30 mark of regulation, the Mavericks moved the ball around the arc to find an open Nowitzki for a lead-changing three-pointer. It was exactly the look they wanted. However, Nowitzki missed. Oklahoma City was knocked out of last year’s playoffs because it couldn’t get a defensive rebound against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of a contentious first-round series that easily could have gone seven games. This was the Thunder’s chance to write a different narrative, but once again, an elimination game did not bring forth the board work Oklahoma City needed in order to prolong a series. With the Thunder unable to secure the rebound off the Nowitzki miss, the ball found its way into Jason Terry’s hands. The Mavericks whipped the ball around the perimeter, showing the unselfishness that has marked their resurgence this spring. Terry fed the ball to Jason Kidd, who slipped the ball on to Marion, who alertly found a still-open Nowitzki for a second three-point attempt. Everyone in the building knew this one was going in. Nowitzki simply wasn’t going to miss two straight, and the Mavericks claimed the lead at 95-94.

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After the ensuing possession and miss from the Thunder, in which Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant was once again shut out of the offense by guard Russell Westbrook and coach Scott Brooks, Marion found himself with the ball and an open path to the basket. Racing to the promised land, Marion threw down a ferocious dunk and was fouled on the play by Durant. After making the free throw, the Mavericks had built a 98-94 lead with just 48 seconds remaining. After two Westbrook free throws cut the lead to two with 39 seconds remaining, the Thunder merely needed one stop. Again, they couldn’t secure a Mavericks miss and were forced to foul Nowitzki with just 13 seconds left. The Mavs could smell a Western Conference championship, and when their German star knocked down both foul shots, they cleared their final hurdle. Seconds later, they completed an impressive five-game series win over the talented Thunder.

 

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook struggled from the field yet again, shooting a combined 19-of-48. While Westbrook did score 31 points and play with a fiery energy all night, his quantity of shots will again be questioned. With a scorer like Durant on the floor, is it in the best interest of Oklahoma City to have such a shoot-first point guard? James Harden was a tremendous boost to the Thunder, scoring 23 points while grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists.

Nowitzki continued his awe-inspiring and efficient play, scoring 26 points on just 15 shot attempts. Marion also had 26 points for the Mavericks, who will head to their first NBA Finals since 2006. Ironically, the Mavericks will most likely face the Miami Heat for the second straight time. Dallas would be wise to remember the lesson it just taught the young guns from Oklahoma City, for it was the Heat who overcame a 2-0 deficit in the 2006 Finals, beating the Mavericks in six games for the franchise’s first title. It is how you finish that is important. The question now becomes: Will Dallas take what it has learned and finish the season the way a champion always manages to do?

 

By: Zach Bloxham
ProBasketball-fans.com Staff Writer


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