Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks need just one more win over the Oklahoma City Thunder to punch their ticket to the 2011 NBA Finals. Riding a 3-1 series lead after a phenomenal fourth quarter comeback fueled by Nowitzki on Monday in Game 4, Dallas returns home for Game 5 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Thunder lost both home games to the Mavs; Dallas has now won five straight road games in these playoffs, an amazing run.
The Mavericks had lost the first two games in Portland in their series against the Trail Blazers, but won Game 6 at the Rose Garden to close the series. Dallas swept the L.A. Lakers, opening the series with two wins at STAPLES Center. Dallas fought off an Oklahoma City comeback in Game 3 of this series, and offered one of their own in Game 4.
The Mavericks have been pretty incredible at home too, racking up a 6-1 record. Dallas opened up the postseason with six straight wins at home before dropping Game 2 against the Thunder. Oklahoma City needs to win the next two in Dallas plus hold court back at the Ford Center to take the series, long odds by any measure.
The focus continues to be on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and their synergy (or lack thereof). Even if the Thunder go on to lose this series, availing the tandem will be an important step after the abuse it's encountered on the big stage, under the bright lights.