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!
(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.
(14) 2006 semifinals, Game 3 vs. San Antonio
Ranked by John Hollinger as the third-best playoff series of last decade, this game helped push it towards the seven-game slugfest into a legendary category. Five of the seven games were within two points at the end of regulation and two of those went to overtime. In Game 3, the Mavericks won 104-103 after Dirk was fouled on an offensive rebound and nailed both free throws. It capped an incredible, insane statline for him: 27 points on three field goals.
How do you score 27 points on three field goals, you ask? Well Dirk was 21 of 24 from the free throw line and was instrumental in fouling out Tim Duncan with about a minute to go (who had 35 points, mind you). Seriously, though: 27 points, 3-of-9 shooting, 21-of-24 free throw shooting and 15 rebounds, just because. For as far back as basketball-reference's database goes, Dirk is the only player to every score 27 or more on three or fewer field goals in the playoffs.
Stuff like that is why this could be considered the third-best playoff series for the entire decade even though it was a Western Conference Semifinals. No other player can dominate a game across the floor (before the go-ahead free throws, Dirk found Stackhouse under the basket for a crucial layup) with just three made field goals.