Nobody will ever forget the pain of the 2006 NBA Finals. Especially not Mavs legends Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry. Once the 2010-2011 season rolled around, they were the only two players still on the team from the franchise’s only run to the Finals back in 2006. Along with the rest of the gritty, veteran-led Dallas Mavericks, the opportunity to return to that same stage that pained them so badly before presented itself on this day back in 2011.
The Mavs were returning home red-hot after nabbing both games on the home court of the young Oklahoma City Thunder to take a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.
To continue the trend of their entire postseason run, the Mavs made an impressive comeback in the 4th quarter as they trailed by eight points with eight minutes to go. Behind a strong 4th quarter from Shawn Marion, who had an impressive 14 4th quarter points, and some late game heroics from Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas took the lead late in the game and didn’t give it up.
A couple of the timeless plays from the homestretch of this game.
The Dirk Three Pointer for the Lead
When I watched this play for the first time in a while, I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear because it is just… so… beautiful. It comes off an inbound play where somehow Dirk immediately has a WIDE OPEN three point shot that he misses. Then Tyson Chandler just waltzes into the paint to take advantage of the napping young Thunder. Jason Terry comes up with the loose ball and gets it to Jason Kidd who then shovels it over to Shawn Marion who wisely gets it back to the, once again, WIDE OPEN Dirk Nowitzki for the three that does fall this time.
What makes this shot even better now is that this is the shot that has become Nowitzki’s trademark shot the last third of his career: the trailing three. His celebration is also one we’ve seen several times too in late game situations: the slow walk up the court with both hands in the air doing his one of a kind Euro symbol for three.
What’s the thing that puts it over the top? BANG!
Shawn Marion’s Breakaway Dunk
I don’t remember my reaction to this moment when it happened back in May 2011, but I can only imagine how much I was screaming at home. This was the perfect exclamation point to the comeback and eventual taking of the lead.
Dallas had just taken the lead on Dirk’s three the previous possession and was in need of a stop. They got it and Marion came away with a loose ball on the perimeter. He didn’t get too many opportunities to handle the ball in the open court at this stage in his career and he showed it on this play. He dribbled toward the defender (Kevin Durant) but still somehow took off, absorbed a futile swipe at the ball by Durant, and then slammed it down with one hand to make the roof of the American Airlines Center just explode off. This was basically the game-sealing play (with forty-eight seconds to go) and it might be Shawn Marion’s biggest play of the 2011 playoff run besides his block on Kevin Durant in game four of this series.
The Western Conference Championship Trophy Ceremony
There’s only video of one other occurrence of something like this in Mavs’ history and it was of them having a subdued celebration in the Phoenix Suns’ locker room back in 2006. This one on the court of the AAC is priceless. Mark Cuban’s line for the win:
“We ain’t done yet…”
This was one of the best nights in the team’s history and it really was one to never forget. It was just another step towards the eventual championship, but it sure was a fun one.
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