The Dallas Mavericks are headed back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2006. Dirk Nowitzki had 26 points and 9 rebounds to help secure a 100-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder that clinched the Western Conference Finals 4-1.

The German forward, dominating throughout this play-off run, put the Mavs ahead for good with a three-pointer with 1:14 left as the young Thunder were finally quelled.

Now, either the Miami Heat – who beat the Mavs five years ago – or Chicago Bulls stand between Nowitzki and the prize which has eluded him. The West? Nice but not enough.

“We’ve got one of those trophies already,” Nowitzki said. “This is nice for a day, but we set our goals in October to win it all. We haven’t done it yet.”

Russell Westbrooks had 31 points and 9 rebounds for Oklahoma City but they couldn’t contain Dallas which is now 12-3 in this post-season.

Leading for most of the game, again they couldn’t close out as the hosts blew past in the fourth quarter.

“It’s tough now,” said Kevin Durant, who had 23 points but missed a late three-pointer. “But we can learn from it. The only way to get better is to keep pushing.”


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