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If Dirk Nowitzki Keeps Up His NBA Playoffs Performance, The Mavericks Are Headed To NBA Finals

Dirk Nowitzki has been on quite the tear during the NBA Playoffs so far this postseason.

If the Dallas Mavericks forward can keep that up when his Mavs face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday at the American Airlines Center, there's a good chance the Mavs will be headed to the NBA Finals against the winner of the Heat-Bulls series.

Against the Thunder so far in the Western Conference Finals, the German-born Nowitzki is averaging 33.8 points while shooting better than 56 percent from the field. Those numbers seem pretty difficult to attain on a night-to-night basis, especially when it's taken into consideration that the 32-year-old is playing over 40 minutes per night in the current series.

If Nowitzki's able to keep it up for just one more game, however, he'll have earned himself a well-deserved break and second career trip to the NBA's Championship series.

Other keys to the Mavs making it to the NBA Finals, which will happen if they're able to win Wednesday evening's game (8 p.m. on ESPN), will be to continue to build on the momentum the Mavs closed out Game 4 with, continuing to limit the Thunder bench -- as well as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, obviously -- and making sure they're able to close the series out as soon as possible as the aging roster isn't being helped out by playing 53 minutes of grueling games.

The biggest key, though, is Nowitzki. If he's able to continue to play as well as he has even while being solidly defended, it doesn't seem like the young-and-gun Thunder are going to be able to stop the Mavs on their way to the NBA Finals and a possible rematch of 2006 with the Miami Heat.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.