We are all still riding off the adrenaline of a thrilling Game 2 victory at the American Airlines Center Monday night. And it got us at MMB reminiscing on our favorite Mavericks playoff performances — we decided to give bonus points for non-Dirk memories, so forgive us for a 41-lite conversation.
What’s your favorite?
CLINT: Game 4 against the Lakers in 2011. Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry went a combined 15/16 from 3 to close out the series. I remember watching at my parents’ house after eating Sunday lunch. I hadn’t fully believed in the Mavericks chances to make a title run but this game convinced me they could do it.
BEN: Dwyane Wade hitting a 3-pointer in front of the Mavericks bench in Game 2 of the 2011 Finals and celebrating just a bit too long. It might be weird that my favorite moment involves an opponent, but that bit of preening by Wade inspired the Mavericks to go on a run and win the game. From there, they never looked back, exposing the 2011 Miami Heat for the front runners they actually were. All of the rest of the big moments from that series could’ve never happened if Wade had acted like he’d been there before. So I’ll always appreciate it.
JORDAN: You can only look back fondly at the dark ages once you’re in a better place. When I read the question, for whatever reason, the first thing that popped into my brain was 2016 Game 2, when Raymond Felton played 42 minutes and had 21 points, 11 rebounds and three assists to lead the Mavericks to their only victory in a series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In the previous season with Dallas (his first) I had affectionately and perhaps ashamedly called Felton “Fatty” any time he played. He returned for a second season and had moments of brilliance, thus changing his nickname to “Fitty”. And in Game 2 Fitty came to PLAY. Is it a best performance in Mavericks history? Absolutely not. But it was games like that, when as a fan you’re grasping for any light, that some of the best memories are made. Thanks, Fitty.
MATTHEW: In game 5, against the San Antonio Spurs in 2003, Michael Finley led the Dirk less Mavericks to a victory over a burgeoning dynasty. Finley averaged over 46 minutes per game in that series which is frankly unheard of now. He had a fantastic all around game with 31 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals and two blocks. Finley’s incredible workload wore him down earlier than he should have but he was an absolute warrior of a player.
JOSH: I feel like I’ve answered this question a thousand times, but, as always, it’s Walt Williams in Game 3 of the second round matchup with the Sacramento Kings in the 2003 playoffs. It was Williams last season in the NBA and he was purely a veteran bench presence and “break glass in case of emergency” type player. Well, that Game 3 the glass needed to be broken, as the Mavericks were caught in a back and forth shootout with a dangerous Kings team.
The Mavericks went small with Dirk at center down the stretch and used Williams to spread the floor at the four. He responded with 10 points, his highest scoring game in the series, with multiple big time buckets down the stretch in the fourth quarter and overtime. A truly random clutch performance from a “let’s remember some guys” player.
KIRK: I got reminded of it on Monday, but the Raymond Felton road game performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 stands out in my mind. The Thunder were unreal that season and of course the Mavericks were aided by Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant shooting a hilariously bad 15 of 55, but Ray Felton came up big with the Mavericks needed him, with six points in the fourth quarter including a driving lay up to give them a brief lead, 83-81. His 21 points and 11 rebounds (of all things) were amazing that game. I know a lot of folks remember Salah Mejri’s game that day as well, but for me it’ll always be the game Raymond Felton showed up and delivered big.
DAVID: Most of my old playoff memories are pretty murky, considering I was 16 the last time they were in it before Luka, so my most vivid moment has to be Luka’s game winner in game 4 of the 1st round against the Clippers in the bubble. I was at work, live-streaming the game (don’t tell my boss) while manning the equipment desk. For the rest of my life, I will never forget the little kid coming to return his soccer ball just as Doncic his the dagger and the horror on his face when I lost control and belted out a victory scream. The way his father shielded him from me on their way out as the Mavericks celebrated a tie series will be burned in my brain forever.
DOYLE: There is one playoff moment that resonates most with me. If you’re a long-time reader of MMB, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I can sum up moment in two words: Corey. Brewer. The rest is history.
MATTHEW: I am also going to list a Dirk entry. Game 7 against the Spurs in 2006. The Spurs were the hill the Mavericks just couldn’t climb and even after being up 3-1, the series went to 7 games. Dirk finished with 37 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists and no turnovers. He was 11 for 20 from the floor and 15/16 from the free throw line. And he made the most iconic play of his illustrious career with the and-1 over Manu Ginobili to force overtime. The movie Reminiscence has a series of lines that “There is no such thing as a happy ending. All endings are sad. Especially if the story was happy”, “Then tell me a happy story but end it in the middle.” There is no greater example of this than the 2006 Dallas Mavericks. The ending is perhaps the saddest of Dirk’s career but I choose to end it in the middle, with one of the happiest moments of Dirk’s career.