Moments after Dallas shoved the Oklahoma City Thunder out of the Western Conference finals Wednesday night, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stood before American Airlines Center crowd and boldly predicted, “We ain’t done yet.”
The first thought is here is the brazen Cuban once again writing a check his team will ultimately have to cash in the upcoming NBA finals.
But you know, he could be right. These Mavericks are for real. If you weren’t convinced after the manner in which they swept the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers out of the playoffs in the semifinals, then you had to be after the way in which they dealt with a young but talented Oklahoma City team.
There seemed to be little doubt that Dallas would be making its first return to the Finals since 2006, even when trailing late in the fourth quarter of Games 4 and 5 against the Thunder. It just seems Dirk Nowitzki won’t be denied this time.
Nowitzki, along with guard Jason Terry, are the lone holdovers from the team that went up 2-0 on the Miami Heat in 2006 only to lose the series in six games. The Mavs, a perennially successful regular season team, hadn’t come close to sniffing the Finals again until this season.
Now they look like a team that won’t be denied as they wait for the Heat to finish off the Chicago Bulls in their Eastern Conference finals series.
"It feels good to finally go back," Nowitzki said following Wednesday night’s dramatic win. "This time, hopefully we can finish the job."
There is a sense they will. The Mavs have better pieces around Nowitzki this time around. Veterans like forward Shawn Marion, point guard Jason Terry and forward Tyson Chandler are exactly the help Nowitzki and Terry will need to get over the Heat and its Big Three this year.
Nowitzki, who was incredible to the conference finals series, seems like he is on a mission now. Winning the Western Conference finals is just a start. His eye is on the biggest prize.
"We've got one of those trophies already," said Nowitzki, referring to the Western Conference finals trophies the Mavs were handed Wednesday night. "This is nice for a day, but we set our goals in October to win it all. We haven't done it yet."
(Photo: AP Photo/LM Otero)