“Good judgment,” Will Rogers would tell you, “comes from experience.” Oklahoma City didn’t have a lot of it, playoff-wise, and in the closing moments, you could tell. With 39 seconds left, Russell Westbrook sank two free throws to bring the Thunder to within two. Dallas worked some clock, and Dirk Nowitzki actually missed a shot, but Jason Kidd cleared, fired it back to Dirk, and Eric Maynor pretty much had to foul him. Nowitzki duly dropped in both foul shots — he’s missed only two in five games — putting Dallas up by four, 100-96, and that’s the way it ended.
The obligatory Telltale Statistic: Daequan Cook, who put up no shots and pulled in one rebound in just over four minutes, was +5, highest on the team, despite lots of OKC offense: Westbrook had 31, Kevin Durant and James Harden 23 each, Nick Collison 12 plus 12 boards. Major problem: Kidd moved the ball seemingly at will, serving up 10 assists. (The Thunder in aggregate had 16.) And he moved it to Dirk (26 points), or to Shawn Marion (also 26). Scant consolations: OKC won the battle of the boards, 49-44, and shot slightly better: 42.7 percent versus 41.
So the Mavs go to the Finals, and if they play the Heat, I suppose I’m cheering for Dallas. (Chicago, last I looked, was in a 3-1 hole.) There will be another season, perhaps as early as next season, though they’re still talking lockout. Experience, it turns out, pays dividends; the Thunder, by next spring, will have earned them. Will could have told you that, too.