OAKLAND, Calif. - The Golden State Warriors were celebrating in their locker room when Baron Davis and his teammates ran back onto the court wearing "We Believe" T-shirts to share the moment with their fans.
For a team that has known mostly failure for the last three decades, this party was a long time coming.
Davis provided the inspiration by scoring 20 points on a strained hamstring and Stephen Jackson did the rest, making a franchise playoff-record seven three-pointers to help the ragtag Warriors pull off perhaps the biggest upset in NBA history.
Golden State became the first No. 8 seed to capture a best-of-seven playoff series with a 111-86 victory over the NBA-best Dallas Mavericks in Game 6 on Thursday night.
"It's great to see my teammates having fun, celebrating," Davis said. "It's a great victory for this organization, the whole Bay Area community."
It's a victory few saw coming when the Warriors were 26-35 on March 6, or perhaps even after Davis went to the locker room with a strained right hamstring in the first quarter. Coach Don Nelson thought his star might be done for the game, taking his team's hopes with him.
But Davis limped his way back on the court, scoring 13 points in the second quarter in his own version of Willis Reed's one-legged triumph in the 1970 NBA finals for the New York Knicks. He added 10 rebounds, six assists and was greeted after the game by rapper Snoop Dogg, one of the many celebrities to jump on the Warriors' bandwagon.
"Baron toughed it out," teammate Matt Barnes said. "He's our leader and nothing's going to stop him right now. We've got a lot of talent and a lot of heart and we're looking to do a lot more damage."
After knocking off the 67-win Mavericks and holding likely league MVP Dirk Nowitzki to eight points on 2-of-13 shooting, there's no telling how far the Warriors can go. They will play the winner of Saturday's Utah-Houston game in the second round, starting next Monday.
The Warriors are the third eighth seed to upset the No. 1 and the first since the opening round went from best-of-five to the current format in 2003.
"This is a pretty special place to be right now," Nelson said.
It's especially sweet for Nelson, who was forced out in Dallas two years ago in part because of his inability to win in the playoffs. But it's Nelson's emotional bunch of castoffs, not Dallas owner Mark Cuban's star-powered Mavericks, going to the second round.