After all the incredible shots Dirk Nowitzki has hit this postseason, it was his vintage stuff — a straightaway 3-pointer and a pair of free throws — that put the Dallas Mavericks back in the NBA Finals.
Nowitzki continued a tremendous roll for him and the Mavs by capping yet another fourth-quarter comeback with a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:14 left, sending the Mavericks to a 100-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night that closed out the Western Conference finals in five games. After clawing back from down 15 with 5:04 left in Game 4, the Mavericks were down by six with 4:37 left in this one when they rallied again, outscoring the Thunder 14-4 the rest of the way.
Dallas has never won a championship, and neither has any of its players. Nowitzki and Jason Terry were part of the only Mavericks team to make the finals, in 2006. They were up 2-0 and leading late in Game 3, but lost the series to the Miami Heat in six games. Dallas could get another crack at the Heat. LeBron James and Miami lead the Chicago Bulls 3-1 in the Eastern Conference finals. After the Maverick's on-court celebration, the players returned to the locker room hearing the fan's chanting, "Beat the Heat, Beat the Heat, Beat the Heat."