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Mavericks Simulator: ‘06 Dallas Mavericks vs ‘86 Boston Celtics

The 2006 Dallas Mavericks get the tough task of facing a Hall of Fame decorated Boston Celtics squad.

Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets Photo by Gregory Shamus/NBAE via Getty Images

Last week we began our Mavericks Simulator series, with help from our friends at, to fulfill some fanciful basketball hypotheticals and ask how the best Mavericks teams of the recent past would fare against some of the most memorably dominant teams in league history.

Check back on the first installment in our series to look at the guidelines, results from our first poll, and how the 2003 Dallas Mavericks looked against the 2014 San Antonio Spurs. We’ll get to this week’s matchup. But first, THIS:

Boston Celtics: Rick Carlisle Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images

2006 Dallas Mavericks vs 1986 Boston Celtics


Who do you got?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    2006 Dallas Mavericks
    (131 votes)
  • 45%
    1986 Boston Celtics
    (111 votes)
242 votes total Vote Now

The Breakdown

Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks (60-22)

  • Started the season 35-10, and finished with the second best win percentage in team history (tied with the ‘03 team). The Mavericks make their first NBA Finals Appearance (lost to the Miami Heat in six games).
  • 25th slowest team in the league, with a Pace of 89.3 (according to
  • Top Nine in the league in Offensive, Defensive Rating (Third in Overall Net Rating).
  • Dirk Nowitzki earns his second (of four) First Team NBA Honors — also was Three Point Contest Champion at NBA All-Star Weekend.
  • Avery Johnson wins NBA Coach of the Year

Boston Celtics (67-15)

Boston Celtics v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
  • Four Hall of Famers in their starting lineup, plus one off the bench, the ‘86 Celtics were deadly, finishing with the second best regular season in the storied franchise’s history.
  • Went 40-1 at home in the regular season. Posted a 15-3 record in the playoffs, defeating the Houston Rockets in the finals.
  • According to, they led the league in Defensive Rating, Rebounding and Team Three-Point Percentage (on five attempts per game).
  • Larry Bird won his third straight MVP award (second Finals MVP), as well the Three-Point Contest; Bill Walton won the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN has them rated as the third best team in league history.

The Simulation

It was tough sledding from the start for the underdog Dallas Mavericks, going down eight after the first quarter, then never really recovering. Dirk did his part, posting 28 points, five rebounds and four assists, but had little help elsewhere. Josh Howard added 15 points, but Jason Terry and Devin Harris had just 11 points each.

Ultimately, few teams could match up with what might be the best starting front court in NBA history. Larry Bird, who was averaging seven assists that season, dominated with a triple double of 20 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists. Kevin McHale added 19 points and 17 rebounds, while Robert Parrish prowled the paint with four blocks. That doesn’t include Danny Ainge notching 27 points and Dennis Johnson having his own double-double with 16 points and 11 assists.

*It’s worth noting that second year guard Rick Carlisle added two points off the bench in seven minutes of play. He was 2-for-2 from the line (maybe a certain 2020 Mavericks team could use his guidance)

Mavericks lose 115-94

1986 Boston Celtics NBA Championship Victory Parade Photo by Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Believable

This Mavericks squad should have walked home with a Larry O’Brien trophy of their own. They were a stout squad that forced their style on others, taking their cue from Dirk Nowitzki near the peak of his powers. But their slow style does them no favors against a Celtics team built to dominate.

While Dirk had a good game in the simulation, having to face an All-Defensive Kevin McHale with Parrish close by would be punishing. And the Mavericks simply wouldn’t have the fire power to back him up.

The Unbelievable

A sign of the times, the Mavericks were attempting fewer than 14 threes per game in 2006, though they shot a solid 37-percent as a team. In the simulation that stayed true, attempting 15 threes while hitting 40-percent. The Celtics went 1-of-4 from deep. Perhaps this just speaks to their dominance around the rim that the Celtics could so thoroughly beat this Mavericks team in this way.

The only other thing that springs to mind as completely unbelievable has nothing to do with the simulation at all; it’s that the 2006 Dallas Mavericks managed to find themselves on the precipice of winning their first NBA title starting DeSagana Diop at center for 18 of the 22 playoff games.