(editor's note: Thanks for all the votes and participation in this tourney! If you missed the earlier parts of the tournament, you can go back and see it all right here.
(1) Last-second layup in Game 2 of the Finals (2011)
This probably isn't too ancient a recounting just yet, but if you'll allow me to set the stage a little: Miami -- the most anticipated team maybe in sports history -- had just completed their rampage of the Eastern Conference, winning all three playoff series 4-1. In Game 1 of the Finals, LeBron James made four of five three-pointers, and Miami won convincingly 92-84. They had now won 13 of their 16 playoff games.
After essentially playing each other to a standstill through three quarters of Game 2, Miami began to pull away in the fourth quarter. A Dwayne Wade three and pose put Miami up 88-73 and that score remained until almost exactly six and a half minutes left.
I don't care how optimistic you are. At this point in time, it looked pretty bad. The clock was striking midnight on the Dallas' unbelievable postseason run. Dirk Nowitzki's shot at erasing the only black mark on his otherwise amazing career was drifting away. For the Mavericks' fans, exorcising the demons of 2006 was looking like less and less of a possibility.
Then that indescribably great comeback happened, which was fantastic in its own right but especially memorable because it served as the prelude to the final 24 seconds, when Jason Kidd handed off the ball to Dirk Nowitzki above the right elbow. Nowitzki used a spin move and hesitation dribble to beat Chris Bosh to the basket for a left-handed layup that changed the course of Maverick team history. I know I can still remember where I was when this moment happened. Can you?
- Alan Smithee (@SmitheeMMB)
(2) The famous and-1 layup against the Spurs (2006)
This isn't a game-winner, really, but it's still one of the most amazing clutch shots of Dirk's career. It's also one of those shots where if you watched it live, you probably remember where you were and how you felt.
For me, it was all about the crazy change in emotions. Mavs led Game 7 big early, crumbled in the third and fourth quarters and then Manu hit that 3-pointer. The arena was rocking, and me and my friends all wanted to throw up.
We were all just very downtrodden. We talked about maybe going for a quick two? Did it really matter? What was the point of life? A Manu three-pointer was going to be the death of us all.
So that's why it was so great when Dirk made it. It was so quick, so sudden, it took us a few seconds to process what happened. Also, the play went to help crush the "Dirk is a soft jump shooter" narrative that made me want to rip my hair out.
- Josh Bowe (@Boweman55)