The Dallas Mavericks silenced the Thunder with a 100-96 comeback victory and scurried to a 4-1 Conference Finals victory last night at home.
Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion scored a game-high 26 points a piece and combined for 18-of-32 shots from the field in the series clincher.
Nowitzki and Jason Terry are the only remaining Maverick players from the 2006 team who crumbled like a softened cookie in a 4-2 NBA Finals series lost against the Miami Heat led by Dwayne Wade, who claimed the MVP award of the Finals that season.
It is now five years later, and the Mavericks await the winner of the East Conference Finals, which includes the same team that beat Nowitzki's Mavs in 2006. Although this is the same franchise that beat Dallas, this is not the same personnel who crushed Dallas five years ago.
This new star-studded team includes Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and a number of other talented hardworking professionals on this 12-man roster. The Heat lead their current series 3-1 against the Chicago Bulls, who had the best record in the NBA during the regular season.
Wade and the Heat have a chance to close out the Bulls later tonight in the same place (Chicago) they took Game 2 of the series with an ugly 85-75 victory back on May 19. A victory by Miami would send them to the Finals for a rematch against the Mavericks.
I believe this East Conference series will go back to Miami for Game 6, but ultimately Miami will win the series 4-2, and get ready for Dirk and the revamped Mavericks. Many people did not think Miami could put together a championship caliber team this year, but they have a very achievable chance to prove the nay-sayers wrong.
The way Miami is playing right now it is hard to pick against them to win the championship, and I will not pick against them. Dirk will be up against THREE superstars this year, and to my knowledge three always is better than one.
It will be a hard fought battle between the teams, but Miami will prevail in six games en route to a South Beach celebration. Book your tickets now because it is about to go down in M-I-A when the Heat win these two series and become World Champions.