Mavericks vs. San Antonio
Celtics vs. Lakers, Bulls vs. Knicks, Bulls vs. Pistons, Heat vs. Knicks; These are all examples of some of the famous rivalries in NBA history. Every time these teams would face each other, they would give it their all and want to just totally beat their opponent into oblivion. They brought out the absolute best in each other and then some. The Dallas Mavericks/San Antonio Spurs rivalry is no different. Right now it is probably considered the biggest rivalry in the NBA and is quickly becoming one of the NBA's most famous ones.
Dating back to the 2000-01 season, each team finished the regular season with almost identical records, with the exception of the 2002-03 season when both teams tied for 1st with records of 60-22. It always seemed to come down between the Mavs and the Spurs to see who would win the division. Whenever they faced each other in the regular season, neither team would back down. Guts personified if you will. The Spurs have had the edge, but the Mavs have been right behind them.
The teams have met three times in the playoffs. The Spurs won the first two matchups, beating the Mavs in four out of five games in the 2000-01 Semi-finals and four out of six games in the 2002-03 Western Conference Finals. Last year in a classic Semi-finals series, the Mavs finally broke through and beat the Spurs in seven games. With the exception of Game 2, where the Mavs man-handled the Spurs from start to finish, every game went down to the very end.
The biggest play of the whole series and the deciding one at that was Dirk Nowitzki's famous "And 1" play. Spurs guard, Manu Ginobili nailed a clutch three-pointer to put San Antonio up 104-101 with 32.2 left. Signs pointed to another series loss to the Spurs, but Nowitzki would have none of it. The seven-footer from Germany converted on a play even more clutch than Ginobili's by driving hard to the basket and hitting a tough shot and getting fouled by Ginobili in the process. He would hit the free throw and tie it all up at 104 apiece. Ginobili had a chance to hit a game winner, but couldn't convert in the end. The game was headed for overtime and by then, it was anybody's game. Dallas decided it would be their's. If they could give out MVPs for performances in overtimes alone, it would have had to go to DeSagana Diop. Diop totally shut down two-time MVP, Tim Duncan and the Spurs helplessly watched the team that they beat so many times before, finally beat them. Dallas had won Game 7, 119-111. This also marked the first time the Mavs eliminated a defending NBA World Champion.
With last year's playoff series win, and defeating the Spurs three out of four times in the 2006-07 season, Dallas seems to have the edge on the Spurs as the Mavs look to seek new horizons. Only time will tell as these two powerhouses look to make an example out of each other the next time they meet, and also look to provide another instant classic playoff war. Stay tuned!