(2) 2011 Finals, Game 2 vs. Miami
Holy shit this comeback. I admit that I haven't seen even the majority of the championship series in the history of the NBA, but this has to be near the top of all-time Finals comebacks. Let's start at the beginning of it.
With just over 7 minutes left in the game, Dwyane Wade (who finished the game with 36 points) hit a corner three to cap a 13-0 Miami run that gave the Heat a 15 point lead. It felt like a dagger, like it was inevitable that the Heat were about to go up 2-0 in the Finals. But Wade, being Wade, had to be an asshole about it, holding his follow through insanely long, lording it over the nearby Dallas bench.
This did not sit well with Jason Terry and the Dallas Mavericks.The Mavs proceeded to play great defense that forced bad jumper after bad jumper by the Heat, while working an energetic and efficient offense that prevented the turnover transitions that had killed them most of the game. Dallas finally tied the game at 90 points each with just under a minute left in the game, on a transition Dirk lefty layup.
Dirk then hit a gorgeous 3-pointer to take the lead, only to have Jason Terry's brain fall out on the next out of bounds play--leaving Mario Chalmers wide open for the easiest three of his life to tie the game up again. (This was Miami's only FG after the Wade three that provoked the whole comeback effort--this game was freaking awesome.) With 24 seconds left, Dallas ran down the clock and then gave the ball to Dirk. The big German promptly put a couple of great moves on Chris Bosh and put in another beautiful lefty layup with 5 seconds left in the game to take the 95-93 lead. Did I mention there was a torn tendon in Dirk's left hand?
With no timeouts left, Miami tried to get the ball up court, and then Wade did the most Dwyane Wade thing ever. He threw up a terrible transition 3-point shot from well beyond the arc, and then promptly collapsed as though he was hit by a Mack truck. Even though no one touched him. His face when the refs rightfully ignored his antics was just the best. And with that, the Dallas Mavericks completed the most insane and enjoyable comeback in Finals history (probably) and gave us all hope that maybe a championship was possible after all.
(3) 2006 semifinals, Game 7 vs. San Antonio
No non-2011 shot lives stronger in memory than Dirk's last-second layup -- "AND THE FOUL!" It's incredible, looking back to remember that this was a semifinals series, because that moment felt like it deserved some sort of trophy.
Dallas almost collapsed there, leading 3-1 and then by 20 points in Game 7 before that fated Manu Ginobili three-pointer briefly put them ahead. But Dirk answered back and Jerry Stackhouse took over the overtime period, preventing a terrible collapse that would have preventing the Finals run, the 50-point beating of the Suns and who knows what else.
Nothing cemented Dirk as one of the NBA's best four or five players like that shot could. Even given the eventual disappointment of 2006, you have to think this game did something for Dirk's psyche that eventually helped him to the win in 2011.