Dallas Reach NBA Finals
Mavericks have reached their second NBA final in franchise history, first since 2006 after leaving it late against Oklahoma City. Dallas beat Thunder 100-96 last night at the American Airlines Center to lift the West Conference silver trophy and close out the series 4-1.
Rick Carlisle’s side were led 72-76 at one point, but managed to come from behind and stun the visitors with a eight-point late really that helped them win the West battle after five games. Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion were both great-shaped, scoring 52 points together and grabbing 15 rebounds. On the other side, Thunder, who recorded their fourth loss in Conference finals, had Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden in good form, scoring 77 points together.
Westbrook was the man of the night, finishing his 44-minute performance with 31 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block, but even so, neither he, nor the other stars could help the Thunder break through and cut the 3-1 series deficit. Mavs’ collective play looked more efficient than visitors’ individual one. Marion and Nowitzki scored 26 points, each, but they were also helped by Jason Terry and Jose Juan Barea who added 26 points.
Marion had at the same time eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and one steal, while Nowitzki completed his 40-minute showing with nine rebounds and two steals. Starter Jason Kidd came up with just two points, but he counter-balanced his 1-7 FGM poor efficiency with ten assists, seven rebounds and one steal. Finally, Tyson Chandlder, who played 24 minutes, had nine points, nine rebounds and two blocks, while DeShawn Stevenson left with one point, two rebounds and one steal.
Dallas’s reserves brought 36 points 14 of which being scored by Barea, who grabbed four rebounds, delivered five passes and made one steal, and 12 by Terry. Brendan Haywood came off the bench to score seven points and pick three rebounds, while Peja Stojakovic left with three points, one rebound, one assist and one steal.
On coach decision, Corey Brewer, Ian Mahinmi and Brian Cardinal did not play. Overall, Mavericks converted five three-pointers of 20 attempts. Terry had two, while Nowitzki, Stojakovic and Barea converted one, each. Stevenson, by contrast, missed all his five throws beyond the circle.
Westbrook scored the most points of the night, 31, while Durant, who added 23, provided one of the poorest showings, converting just eight of 20 attempts. Russell missed 17 of 28, but counter-balanced his scoring performance with eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block. Finally, Harden came off the bench to score 23 points, grab five rebounds, deliver six assists and make one steal.
Serge Ibaka had two points, three rebounds and one block, while starters Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins left scoreless, the first one picking instead eight rebounds. Reserve Nick Collison added 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, going at the same time for two steals, two blocks and one assist. Eric Maynor brought five points, one assist and one rebound and Daeguan Cook, who played just four minutes, managed to grab a rebound.
Nate Robinson, Nazr Mohammed and Royal Ivey were kept on the bench throughout the entire meeting. Overall, Thudner converted just five of 16 three-point attempts, three of which being scored by Durant and two by Maynor and Harden. Mavericks have gone 12-3 so far this playoffs, managing to keep the sheet clean against Los Angels Lakers. As for Oklahoma City, they have finished the playoffs with nine wins and eight defeats.
Said delighted Nowitzki: “We’ve got one of those trophies already. This is nice for a day, but we set our goals in October to win it all. We haven’t done it yet… It feels good to finally go back. This time, hopefully we can finish the job.” Marion was better shaped than Dirk, but the name didn’t matter as long as they were nearing the big success. “We just kept our poise at all times,” said the second cornerstone.
Dallas will next play either East leaders Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat. Erik Spoelstra’s side lead the East finals 3-1 and are one win of claiming their first Conference finals trophy with the new look. The two sides will meet on Thursday at the United Center.11