How it happened: This story should be familiar by this point in the Finals. Once again, the Mavericks finished much stronger than the Heat.
Dallas put itself on the brink of the franchise’s first championship with a 17-4 run to finish Game 5.
The Mavs have hopped on Dirk Nowitzki’s shoulders during crunch time throughout the playoffs. He had plenty of help down the stretch in this game.
It was the Mavs’ three-headed closing monster that slammed the door on the Heat in the final game of the season at the American Airlines Center. Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd combined for every point and assist in the Mavs’ finishing flurry.
Terry backed up his big words by scoring eight points in the final 3:23, including a pair of 3-pointers -- the last one a 26-foot dagger in LeBron James' face. Terry also had a pair of assists down the stretch: one to Nowitzki for the go-ahead dunk, the other to Jason Kidd for a 3-pointer.
James, who called this the biggest game of his life, registered the first triple-double in Heat playoff history with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. But his only points of the fourth quarter came on a too-little, too-late layup.
Dwyane Wade, hobbled by a hip injury suffered during the first half, had 10 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter. But his last backup came with 4:37 remaining, just before the Mavs began their crunch-time run.
What it means: The Mavs head to Miami one win from a title -- five long, painful years after the 2006 Finals flop against the Heat. History favors them. In Finals that were tied after four games, the Game 5 winner has claimed the championship 19 of 26 times.
Play of the game: For the third time this series, Nowitzki scored arguably the most important bucket of the game by driving hard to the basket. After getting a pass from Terry, Nowitzki put the ball on the floor with his injured left hand to blow by Chris Bosh on the baseline and finished with a two-hand slam, giving the Mavericks the lead for good with 2:45 remaining.
Stat of the night: The Mavericks’ first half was the best shooting half by any team this postseason. Dallas hit 65.7 percent (23-of-35) of its shots from the floor and 71.4 percent (5-of-7) from 3-point range. It was the fourth time during these playoffs that the Mavs shot at least 60 percent in a half.