Over the next couple of weeks, Mavs Moneyball is trying to determine the best Mavericks playoff game since 2000. Here's our homepage, with every game, seed and matchup. Your votes are being recorded below!
(1) 2011 Finals, Game 6 vs. Miami
It had to happen like this. It had to.
For 20 games, Dirk Nowitzki had more or less thrown the entire Mavericks roster in a rundown minivan, told them, "I got this," then dragged them to a Finals-clinching Game 6 with a bungee cord wrapped around the bumper. On the 21st game, his team crawled out and -- one by one -- told Dirk right back, "We got this."
While Dirk struggled to a 1-of-11 first half, Jason Terry lit up like an illegal Chinese firework, spewing in points from all over the floor. DeShawn Stevenson hit threes. Tyson Chandler did his thing. Ian Mahinmi nailed a buzzer beating elbow jumper. Brian Cardinal dropped a corner three and, perhaps more importantly, Dwyane Wade on a charge take. J.J. Barea scored FIFTEEN. I'm sure Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion were involved in some way or another.
Then in the last six minutes or so, Dirk solemnly thanked them for their service. He shook their hands -- one by one -- and ushered them back into the van. He said, "I got this," and he did. And the Mavericks won a championship. And Dirk had to run to the locker room because he was overcome with emotions. And then he sung an off-key rendition of "We are the Champions." But first, there was the unforgettable Game 6 that began it all, and we love it for that reason.
- Tim (@tim_cato)
(9) 2011 Western Conference Finals, Game 1 vs. Oklahoma City
There was an unmistakable sense of anticipation and excitement in the air on this May evening. That may sound like a painfully obvious thing to say about a Western Conference Finals game, but for the Dallas Mavericks, this was more than a deep playoff run. This was starting to feel like destiny.
Consider the recent history of the franchise: a perennial playoff team most notable for their short stays, as they'd been dispatched in the first round three of the last four years. Consider the final month and a half of the season, where the Mavs had lost eight straight games against Western Conference playoff teams, the low point being a embarrassing (on more than one level) blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers that culminated in a Jason Terry frustration cheap shot.
But then suddenly Dallas came face to face with that same Los Angeles team in the playoffs, and the defending champions looking for their second threepeat in the Kobe/Phil era were swept, with the final blow coming in a massacre game four to close out the series. What was happening?
Enter Nowitzki. His first touch of the WCF came the first time down for Dallas. Facing up against the athletic shotblocking savant Serge Ibaka, Dirk gave a series of jabsteps, before hoisting a rainbow jumper that looked magnetized to the net. Ibaka tried to adjust the next time down, bodying up Nowitzki very tight about 18 feet from the basket, denying any airspace. Dirk took a dribble to get a feel for Ibaka's positioning, used a spin move to beat Serge to the baseline, and then threw down one of the more vicious slams you'd see from the floor-bound German. Uh oh.
Dallas continued to feed their star. Between field goals and free throws, Dirk made 36 of 39 attempts, netting 48 points (his first of two 40 point games that series). It didn't matter if it was Ibaka, or Nick Collison, or Thabo Sefolosha guarding him. When the ball left his hands, no matter how good the defense, it seemed there could be only one outcome. Destiny.