The Dallas Mavericks eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 Wednesday night to reach the NBA Finals. Dallas will play the winner of the Miami Heat vs Chicago Bulls series, which the Heat lead 3 games to 1.

The AP reports:

dirk nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki stood on the court wearing a baseball hat celebrating the Dallas Mavericks’ return to the NBA finals. As his team received a silver trophy for winning the Western Conference, he looked as if he’d just been named the player of the week in November.

Nowitzki’s indifferent attitude during the pandemonium around him shows just how locked in he is right now.

“We’ve got one of those trophies already,” Nowitzki said. “This is nice for a day, but we set our goals in October to win it all. We haven’t done it yet.”

The superstar who has dominated this postseason added yet another highlight Wednesday night, hitting a straightaway 3-pointer with 1:14 left that put the Mavericks ahead for good on their way to a 100-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder that ended the Western Conference finals in five games.

After clawing back from down 15 with 5:06 left in Game 4, the Mavericks were down by six with 4:37 left when they rallied again, outscoring the Thunder 14-4 the rest of the way. The biggest on-court celebration in franchise history followed, with the greatest player in franchise history hardly soaking it in.

More from the AP:

Dallas is 12-3 this postseason, and has won 10 of its last 11. Nowitzki has been at his best throughout, especially this series. He scored nine of his 26 points in the fourth quarter; for the series, he averaged 32.2 points, 11.8 in the fourth quarters…

shawn marion

Marion got Dallas within 94-92 off a pass from Kidd, then Nowitzki stole a pass from Westbrook. Nowitzki actually missed his first 3-point try on that possession and Westbrook got the rebound, but Terry stole it, got the ball to Marion and he fed Nowitzki for the go-ahead 3.

Eric Maynor wound up taking Oklahoma City’s next shot and teammate Nick Collison got the rebound on the baseline. He flung the ball back toward the paint, Marion caught it and took off for a breakaway dunk. He was fouled on the play and hit the free throw for a 98-94 lead.

Westbrook made a pair of foul shots with 39 seconds left to get the Thunder within a basket. Nowitzki missed a shot against tight defense with 18 seconds left, but Kidd got the rebound and passed back to Nowitzki. He was fouled and made a pair of free throws with 13.3 left. Durant and Harden missed 3-pointers, and that was it.

Reuters reports:

Guard Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 31 points for the Thunder, who were unable to prevent the Mavericks from conjuring a second successive come-from-behind win. NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant added 23 points for the visitors.

“They played a small lineup and really tried to jump the game up,” Nowitzki told reporters of the Thunder. “They drilled us on transition all night long and you’ve got to give them credit. They left it all out there today.

“We just had to get some stops down the stretch. We finally got away with a little zone (defense), a little man-to-man, and got some stops. That was big.”

After the Mavericks were presented on court with the Western Conference trophy, team owner Mark Cuban said: “All I can tell everybody is: ‘We ain’t done yet’.” …

With James Harden and Nick Collison sparking Oklahoma City’s bench, the visitors kept the third seeds under continual pressure to grab a 76-72 advantage going into the final period.

Westbrook landed a two-point jumper to put the Thunder ahead 85-77 for the biggest lead of the night with 9.14 remaining.

However, the Mavericks steadily clawed their way back, and had reduced the deficit to 92-90 with a little under four minutes on the clock following consecutive pairs of free throws from Nowitzki and veteran Marion.

Nowitzki then missed a three-point attempt but Dallas stole the rebound and this time the German made no mistake from beyond the arc to put his team ahead 95-94 with 1.14 left.

The Thunder have a bright future. Their best player are all young, and their chemistry should only improve with time. They had a terrific season.

Live fan discussion of the game took place in this forum topic.