This year marks the ninth anniversary of the Dallas Mavericks’ remarkable run to capture the franchise’s only NBA championship. Our television partners at Fox Sports Southwest are re-airing the 16 victories that the Mavericks earned en route to the 2011 title. Having dispatched Portland in the first round and having swept the Los Angeles Lakers in round two, the Mavericks moved on to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference finals. After losing game 2, the Mavericks came back and went up 2-1 with a Game 3 victory. Then, it was on to Games 4 and 5, which will air on FSSW Thursday at 7 p.m.

We at will provide our own look-back at those games, giving readers a primer for the re-broadcasts with comments of players both from those games and recent conversations.


Signature moments don’t always happen during a game.

For Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks, it came right after they had sent Oklahoma City’s talented team on vacation.

The laser focus of Nowitzki and the entire team was crystal clear when the Mavericks won Game 5 and captured the Western Conference finals over the Thunder.

The Mavericks had broken the Thunder’s will in Game 4, when they overcame a 15-point lead in the final five minutes and won in overtime.

Then, in Game 5 at American Airlines Center, they closed out the best-of-seven series.

A celebration had broken out on the court. Nowitzki was getting the perfunctory head-grabs and back-slaps as owner Mark Cuban accepted the Western Conference championship trophy.

After Cuban had said “we ain’t done yet,” and before coach Rick Carlisle could take the microphone, Nowitzki broke out of the crowd on the court, hopped over the scorer’s table and was gone into the bowels of the AAC.

Afterward, he would apologize for his abrupt exit, but had a very understandable reason: “We’ve got one of those trophies already,” he said. “This is nice for a day, but we set our goals in October to win it all. We haven’t done it yet.”

There was nothing easy about beating Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.

It was worthy of a toast. But Nowitzki remembered 2006, when the Mavericks had won the West in a victory at Phoenix against the Suns. It was nice to do it in front of the home fans. But there was work to do.

But getting past the Thunder was a journey all its own.

Game 1: Mavericks 112, Thunder 105 (OT)

Breaking a team’s spirit is the final step to extinguishing them in the playoffs.

Take away every shred of confidence. Leave no sliver of hope. That’s what the Mavericks had to do against Oklahoma City in Games 4 of the Western Conference finals.

They did that, and more, with a gutsy overtime win in OKC, which set them up for the second trip to the NBA Finals in franchise history.

Having reclaimed a foothold in the Western Conference finals by taking game 3 in OKC’s gym to go up 2-1, the Mavericks found themselves behind 99-84 with five minutes left.

The Thunder crowd was going crazy.
The Mavericks called timeout. Shawn Marion re-entered the game and quickly canned two free throws to stop the bleeding. The Mavericks knew they had to pitch a perfect game the rest of the way.

A 17-2 blitz was close enough.

When they got to overtime, surviving a 3-pointer by Durant at the regulation buzzer, they knew they had the Thunder on the ropes.

It still was tied at 105, but the Mavericks scored the final seven points – all by the Jasons. Kidd had five and Terry had a pair of free throws.

And the Mavericks were up 3-1 in the series. This, in spite of getting hammered in the rebounding department. Normally, that’s a massive statistic. But even when they got beat 55-33 on the glass, they persevered.

They did it with heart.

“You want to win each series, period, regardless of how you do it,” Marion said recently. “In the playoffs you can’t mess around. If you’re going for that prize, you’re going to be locked in all the time. You don’t want to give anybody life.”

Game 5: Mavericks 100, Thunder 96.

While the lingering image of the close-out victory will always be Nowitzki exiting the court while the celebration still was going, the way the Mavericks booted OKC to the sidelines was almost as memorable.

Just as in Game 4, they were behind through much of the fourth quarter.

They had trailed by 15 with five minutes left in Game 4. This time, they were down by six with under five to play.

Again, they took on their coach’s persona. Rick Carlisle had said that this team would never throw in the towel in any situation. And this was no different.

Nowitzki and Marion scored all the points as the Mavericks went on an 11-2 run and took a 98-94 lead with 48 seconds left.

The Thunder had been silenced.

“Their time will come, but it’s not now,” Carlisle said of the Thunder. “We feel like now is our time.”

The Mavericks got 26 points each from Marion and Nowitzki in the clincher. For the five-game series, Nowitzki averaged 32.2 points per game.

But he had loads of help. The bench continually used strength in numbers, with J.J. Barea, Peja Stojakovic, Jason Terry and others to combat the potent James Harden, who was the beginning and the end of the Thunder’s bench.

In the end, the Mavericks were the better team in this series. And worthy representatives of the Western Conference – even if it wasn’t yet satisfying for Nowitzki and his teammates.

Twitter: @ESefko

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