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Homer D. Sayson
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List of Articles by Homer D. Sayson


 

Mavericks punch NBA Finals ticket

By Homer D. Sayson
PhilBoxing.com
27 May 2011




IT WAS deja vu all over again.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, so full of talent yet so painfully inexperienced, imploded again in the homestretch. The only difference is that, this time, they didn't just lose a game. They lost a series, and their quest for the 2011 NBA title.

Up 6 points with 4:37 left to play Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center, the Thunder couldn't seal the deal and watched helplessly as the battle-tested Mavericks stole Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, 100-96.

The Thunder's second meltdown in as many games allowed Dallas to wrap-up the best-of-7 series at 4-1 and gave the Mavs a ticket to this year's NBA Finals.

Erratic play, inability to defend the pick-and-roll, low assists, and high tunrovers are just a few of several factors that contributed to Oklahoma's postseason failure.

But the Thunder's ultimate demise was caused largely by one factor. An overdose of Dirk Nowitzki.

The 7-foot Nowitzki drilled a 3-pointer that shoved Dallas ahead in Game 5, 95-94, with 1:14 remaining. He then foiled Oklahoma's comeback effort with a pair of pressure-packed free throws in the final 13 seconds.

Just two nights before, the big German scored 40 points as Dallas came back from a 15-point late fourth quarter deficit to win Game 4 in overtime. Nowitzki, a 9-time All-Star and former MVP exploded for 48 in Game 1 including a playoffs record of 24 free throws without a miss.

The Mavs went to the NBA Finals in 2006, held a 2-0 series lead, only to lose four in a row to Shaq, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.

NOWITZKI admits that the stunning defeat still creeps on his mind, particlualry that fateful Game 3, when Dallas led by 13 and was a mere 6 minutes away from an insormountable 3-0 series lead.

That nightmare is the reason why Nowitzki wasn't much in a celebratory mood Wednesday after Dallas dispatched the Thunder.

"This is nice for a day," Nowtizki said of winning the Western Conference title, "but we set our goals in October to win it all. We haven't done it yet."

Dallas awaits the winner between the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat who are battling in the Eastern Conference finals with Miami holding a huge 3-1 advantage.

If the Heat hold on, it sets the stage for a rematch.

But these Mavs are ready. And these aren't yesteday's Mavs, either. The only holdovers of that 2006 team is Nowtizki and Jason Terry.

The current Mavs now have the veteran pont guard leadership of Jason Kidd plus, who stll searches for an NBA ring after two failed NBA Finals appearances.

The Mavs also have a deep bench and defensive might and offensive firepower of Shawn "The Matrix" Marion.

Dallas is just happy being in the Finals. It's determined to exorcise the ghosts of 2006. (Homer D. Sayson)


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