'This Time's Going To Be More Special' - Jet
With respect to the Oklahoma City Thunder -- they're gonna be a fun team to be neighbors with for the next ten years or so -- this is the Dallas Mavericks show.
Our Boys In Blue held on through OKC's last-gasp rally, held on as it seemed the Thunder might've rediscovered their long-distance shots, held on as the roof looked ready to cave in late (again). Held on, until Dirk got a second look at a three and sank it, until Marion stole it, dunked it, and nailed the free-throw, and until Dirk put it away with two more from the line. Final score 100-96, Western Conference champions, and more importantly the right for another crack at the title. Look out Finals, here come the Mavericks.
A little shellshock is normal . . . "I don't know. It was a good game throughout the whole game. It was back and forth, and it was a great game." -Russel Westbrook
"I just think we played hard and just couldn't come up with the win." -Kevin Durant
Regarding fourth quarter adjustments, after OKC's lead got as large as eight before Dallas shut them down . . .
"We went small for awhile. We were having success getting shots, but we had no rim coverage, and we were struggling to get rebounds. So, we went back big and basically went with the finishing group that has been pretty much our closing team most of the year." -Coach Rick Carlisle
Some love for Shawn Marion, who came up with the steal that broke the Thunder for good . . .
"Matrix was spectacular for us. For us, he's probably our best perimeter defender, he's long, he's active with his hands, and he was phenomenal the last couple games, really trying to make it hard." -Dirk Nowitzki
About the kill shot -- Dirk misses, Tyson rebounds, Dirk gets it back, three points . . .
"I missed the wide-open three, which actually Jet set a heck of a screen. I was so wide open and missed that three. I said if I get any daylight on the next look I'm going to let it go again." -Dirk Nowitzki
"It was a huge play but the bigger play than Dirk's three, Dirk doesn't get that three if Tyson Chandler doesn't run in and get the rebound so that was tremendous. But for Dirk to the next three after missing the one before I knew it was going in." -Jason Terry
Speaking of Jason Terry, did you know that way back in October . . . "When he first got the tattoo (the championship trophy on his right arm) I said he was crazy. I didn't say it to him. But I've never been to the Finals, and for him to have that now. Wow. And he got that tattoo in October, and it means a lot with what we've been through." -DeShawn Stevenson
"Everybody laughed and they thought it was a joke at the time. When they actually see me get it, they were like, 'This boy is serious.' And our whole talk and conversation was about right now, about us getting to this point and winning it all." -Jason Terry
Why, in spite of Westbrook's 31 points and all-around effort, we'd still take Jason Kidd . . .
"Little plays like that throughout the game, the team that wins that battle usually wins the game, and I thought for tonight, for the most part, we won that battle." -Jason Terry
Huge, huge respect for the Oklahoma City Thunder . . .
"Tonight, coming home and everything, it looks like it's tailor-made just to go out there and get the crowd behind you. But Oklahoma City had other ideas, and they played a great game . . . You know, Oklahoma City is a great young team. They played with unbelievable fight and spirit. I mean, the game tonight, of all the games I've been involved with over the years in the playoffs, this is as hard a game as I've ever been involved with, just because of some of the adjustments they made and how they attacked." -Coach Rick Carlisle
More on the endlessly fascinating Youth versus Experience arguement . . .
"Down the stretch, we like to say that we're the best team in basketball because we know what we want to do offensively, we know where the ball is going, and defensively we know we can get stops." -Jason Terry
"You can't skip steps. We all have to get better, including myself . . . Next year when they're 23, they're still going to be young. We're not going to use it as an excuse. We all signed up to play this game and you have to take pride in what you do because it's not a hobby. It's our life. This is what we do. This is what we believe in." -Coach Scott Brooks
"Everybody's calm. The crowd might be a little uneasy, especially when we're at home, but the guys don't panic." -Jason Kidd
"We just kept our poise at all times. It seemed like we never got rattled and just chipped away and chipped away." -Shawn Marion
"It's tough now. But we can learn from it. The only way to get better is to keep pushing." -Kevin Durant
On the nice bonus of getting a few extra days off (at least six, might be more depending on how the ECF goes) . . .
"Any time you can get rest this time of year is a bonus. For us to close it out here is huge." -Jason Kidd
Western Conference Champions is huge, so how come there isn't a party? "Yeah, Dirk got on us -- we won two games in LA -- about that he'd been in that position before, you don't get real excited." -DeShawn Stevenson
"We can enjoy it for a day, but we got one of those trophies already, and it didn't mean anything at the end." -Dirk Nowitzki
Dear Larry O'Brien Trophy -- we have unfinished business . . . "It's exciting, but my sense is we're grounded. We'll enjoy this moment for a day, watch the game tomorrow night and see where things are. We have a lot of work left to do." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"Our goal now is to win four more games no matter who we play in the Finals. This time around it's even going to be more special. We're going to leave it all out there on the floor and this is what you play for . . . It's been a great playoff run for us so far but everyone knows what this next step means." -Jason Terry
"I was already thinking about the Finals. This is nice for a day, but we set our goals in October to win it all. We haven't done it yet." -Dirk Nowitzki
"All I can tell everybody is, we ain't done yet." -Mark Cuban
The UberMan, in exclamation points . . . "DON'T GIVE THAT MAN A SECOND CHANCE!!! HE'LL KILL YOU!!!!!" -Chuck Cooperstein
"MVP!!! MVP!!! MVP!!! MVP!!! MVP!!!" -Mavericks Nation