"We Aint Done Yet"

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-96 in game 5 tonight to become the Western Conference Champions and earn a spot to play the Eastern Conference Champions in the NBA Finals. A rivalry seems to be brewing across Interstate 35 between the Mavericks and Thunder. I won't compare to it Heat vs. Celtics, but it is still a rivalry in the making. If I could use one word to describe why the Mavericks are able to be in the 2011 NBA Finals, it would be determination. In game 4 Dallas was down by 15 points with less than 5 minutes to play. In the past 15 years, including regular season and post season, 5,016 teams have been down 15 points with less than 5 minutes to play. The only team to ever to come back from such a deficit is the Dallas Mavericks. The entire Mavericks organization has been telling those on the outside that they are different, but to comeback from a lead that has proven statistically to be insurmountable is what makes a good team great. After such an incredible performance in game 4, and an equally great showing to hold off the young guns of the Thunder in game 5, you would think the Mavericks would stick around and celebrate their victory and officially stamping their ticket to the NBA Finals. If you thought this, you thought wrong. Sure, they held up the Western Conference Finals Championship Trophy, and yes they were all given championship t-shirts and hats, but Mark Cuban summed it up best to the Mavs faithful that stuck around for the post game activities by saying that his Dallas Mavericks "aint done yet." After Cuban's interview, a confused Doris Burke turned around to talk to Dirk Nowitzki to undoubtedly loathe him with congratulatory words and more questions concerning the comparisons to Larry Bird. She turned around and Nowitzki wasn't there. He was already headed to the locker room thinking about what he has to do next series to win the championship that has eluded him throughout his career. Again, a confused Doris Burke looked to find Jason Kidd, another veteran of this Dallas Mavericks team who lusts to hold the O'Brien Trophy, but he was nowhere to be found. Kidd followed Nowitzki into the locker room to end the celebration a little early. After this, the rest of the Mavs exited the court along with Coach Rick Carlisle to head to the locker room where any other celebrations would take place in private or with the local/national media. While it was nice to be crowned the Western Conference Champions, that was not the Mavericks' goal for this season. They want to be NBA Champions. While some teams celebrate by kneeling and crying after winning a series to only put them to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Dallas Mavericks showed their poise and determination to go out and win an NBA title. The team I alluded to previously is none other than the Miami Heat, a team infamous in the DFW Metroplex, are immature compared to these Dallas Mavericks. Their celebrations seem immature, and while they do get focused one or two days following a big victory to advance to the next round, the Dallas Mavericks walked away from a post game celebration, and left a very confused ESPN reporter, to head to the locker room and think about who is next for them. I wouldn't be surprised if Nowitzki left the post game activities to join shooting coach Holger Geschwindner for another night workout. That's just how Nowitzki is. Nothing seems to bother him as of late. Only people who don't watch basketball anymore call the 7 foot German soft, and he has emerged as the best player in the playoffs with players such as Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Derek Rose still left in contention. He is determined, he is poised, and he is full of passion to go on and final get that championship ring.
What can't go unnoticed about tonight is the emergence of a sleeping giant. The player that turned this game around and matched Nowitzki's point total tonight was none other than The Matrix, Shawn Marion. Marion seems to have turned back the clock as of late. Marion had 26 points and 8 rebounds tonight to lift the Mavericks over the Thunder in a game where Terry had a sub-par shooting effort and Barea led the bench in scoring. Another player I have to mention is Jason Kidd. What Kidd does doesn't often show up in the stat book. Kidd is able to lead the offensive attack, get Dirk the ball where he wants it, make key steals, guard the other team's best scorer, and limit turnovers. Kidd and Nowitzki are the unprecedented leaders of this Dallas Mavericks team. The contribution of Shawn Marion is a very good sign for the Mavericks. Whoever the opponent of the Mavericks will be in the following weeks, the focus of their defense will be on Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas will have to get their sharp shooters Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic going from the outside to open up Nowitzki.
A lot has been said about the Dallas Mavericks this year. Allow me to remind you that almost no one picked the Mavericks to beat the Portland Trailblazers in round one, and those who did pick Dallas to move on to round 2 had them losing to the Lakers with no second thoughts in the second round of the playoffs. Dallas has done nothing prove people wrong throughout the playoffs. I know I said one word to describe them this post season was determined, but another term for the Mavericks this year is resilient. Following the 23 point loss to Portland, no one knew how the Mavericks would respond. Well, they went on to win their next 7 games which included closing out the Trail Blazers in the Rose Garden and sweeping the two-time defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers in Phil Jackson's last year as head coach. The Thunder gave up a 15 point lead in game 4, and people were unsure how they would respond with their backs against the wall, but they came out and delivered their best blow to Dallas who took it, and stayed around the whole game to eventually take the lead and the series. The Mavericks had been crushed both locally and nationally by media saying that the team is too old. The youngest player on the team is Rodrigue Beaubois, and the Thunder had Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, who are all younger than him Beaubois. Since they won, the Mavericks are the crafty veteran team that knows how to close games, and how to get it done in the playoffs. I have never seen a team get more disrespect in a series than the Dallas Mavericks against the Los Angeles Lakers. After being up 3-0 in the series, there still seemed to be disbelief that the Mavericks would go on to win the series. In fact, there was doubt that the Mavericks would go on to win. In question was if the Lakers won game 4, then the series would go back to L.A. What people forget is that the Mavericks had just won twice in the Staples Center. The Mavericks closed out the series IN Portland. After the Thunder tied the series at 1 following game 2, there was panic in the Dallas area that the Mavericks would lose control of this series. The Mavericks went on to win BOTH games in a ruckus Oklahoma City Arena.
You just can't count out these Dallas Mavericks. They have been erasing doubts all post season long. Even when statistics show that a comeback has the odds of 5000:1. The Mavericks still pulled off the victory. Crafty veterans such as Nowitzki, Kidd, Marion, and Terry have proven that this is a different year and are determined to go out and win an NBA Championship. They are a determined and resilient team. When other teams are crying in joy after a win to bring them 8 games away from a championship, the Dallas Mavericks are leaving the podium of their Western Conference Championship clinching win to focus on what lies ahead of them. What lies ahead is 4 more wins against either the Bulls or the Heat. After their conference championship there's only one rallying cry the Mavericks will have going into the NBA Finals "We aint done yet."

-Colby

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