How many games will the Mavericks-Thunder series go?
There's really no other word to describe Dirk Nowitzki's performance in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. If we hadn't watched it, we'd be wondering how anyone can possibly score 48 points while taking only 15 field goal attempts. But seeing is believing. Nowitzki was 12-15 from the field, and set an NBA playoff record by making all 24 of his free throw attempts, as the Mavericks took Game 1 by a 121-112 final.
ESPN analyst Tim Legler just put it in perspective this way: The ball left Dirk's hand on the way to the basket 39 times in this game, and 36 times he made it. You can't do that alone in a gym.
Leading into Game 1, there was a lot of time to talk about how much rust the Mavs might have. Dallas did look a little clunky in the first half, but Dirk was so good it didn't matter. If there was a little bit of rust to shake off, the Mavericks were able to do it while not losing any ground (or the game) to Oklahoma City because of how good Dirk was.
In his post game press conference, Dirk was asked to compare his performance in this game against others in his playoff history. He said:
"It's a win, really that's all I care about. It was a tough Game 1, and they kept coming, especially in the fourth quarter, I think we were up 10 and they kept making plays and Durant kept making tough shots. So they were always right there, and it was only like a four-point game there with a couple minutes to go. So the main thing is, we found a way to win and that's what it's all about. Numbers don't mean anything if you lose."
That answer says a lot about Dirk, a lot we already know. First of all, he didn't answer the question at all, but he didn't ignore it either. He deliberately turned it into a team-oriented answer, underlining his point at the end by saying "Numbers don't mean anything if you lose." He's not interested in the past. He's not interested in his legacy. He cares only about doing what it takes to win a game, and doing that enough times to win a championship.
We have seen great things from Dirk throughout his career, but he has never looked more confident and in control as he does now. With the bench support he's getting, with Jason Terry finding a level of consistency that has previously eluded him, everything is coming together at exactly the right time.