Greatest Mavericks vs Spurs Playoff Moments


Apr 10, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) drives to the basket past San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


The Dallas Mavericks are participating in their 13th playoffs in the last 14 years. After dropping their regular-season finale in Memphis to finish in the 8th seed, Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs will begin their quest for a second NBA title in franchise history against the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs.

In this span, their first-round match up with their Southwest rivals will mark the Mavericks’ 25th playoff series, SIXTH against the Spurs. No other team has faced the Mavericks more than three times (Kings).

Nowitzki has been a part of every single postseason and every single playoff series as he and Tim Duncan square off for the possibly the final time in the playoffs in their hall-of-fame careers.

The Spurs lead the playoff series 16 games to 13, winning three of the first five match ups. Duncan has been in the postseason 16 of 17 years, missing out in 2000 because of an injury. The Spurs, however, have made it to the playoffs 17 straight years.

Dallas faced off with San Antonio during the 2001 Conference Semifinals, 2003 Western-Conference Finals, 2006 Conference Semis, 2009 First Round and the 2010 First Round.

As we start our memorable flashbacks, we’d like to note that Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Devin Harris are the only players on this year’s roster to ever play the Spurs in the playoffs in a Dallas jersey, Marion in 2010, Harris in 2006. Dejuan Blair played for the Spurs in 2010.

Before the two tangle in Game 1 on April 20, we take a look at all five previous match ups, some of the most memorable Dallas and Nowitzki moments and a look at this year’s first-round Texas-showdown.


#2 Dallas (55-27) vs #7 San Antonio (50-32)

Dallas won its 3rd division title in franchise history, its last, after going 55-27, finishing 2nd in the West behind the Los Angeles Lakers, who finished at 57-25. The Mavericks finished 3-1 against San Antonio that season with Nowitzki averaging a team-high 28.8 points a game, including 41 on 15-of-29 shooting in Dallas’ 99-94 victory on Nov. 18.

The playoffs were much different, however, as the Mavericks fell in six games.

Nowitzki led the Mavs to a 100-94 Game 1 win. He scored 36 points on 12-of-14 shooting (12-of-12 from the line).

The game was tight for the first 2 1/2 quarters, with Dallas leading most of the time. Then the Spurs stormed ahead and the lead swapped hands a few times.

Nowitzki helped the Mavs pull away with a 7-0 run all on his own.

The Spurs only had 14 free-throw attempts while Nowitzki and Erick Dampier had 12 each.

During Game 4 in San Antonio, Eduardo Najera was ejected after taking down Manu Ginobili in the 3rd quarter. If you look back at the game recap, you can see Nowitzki and Blair going at it in the 3rd as well.

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In Game 5 with Dallas trailing the series 3-1, Caron Butler took over for a playoff-career-high 35 points as the Mavs won 103-81. Nowitzki had a quiet night, 15 points in 31 minutes.

Nowitzki averaged 26.7 points and 8.2 rebounds in the series. He shot 54.7 percent, but was just 4-of-7 from downtown. Duncan averaged 18.2 points and 9.5 rebounds on 50 percent shooting.


#3 San Antonio (54-26) vs #6 Dallas (50-32)

Both teams hit the 50-win mark again as Dallas went 32-9 at home during the season. The Mavericks and Spurs tied the season series. Nowitzki averaged 25.8 points and recorded three double-doubles in the four games.

Josh Howard led six players in double figures with 25 points while Nowitzki scored 19 as he battled with foul trouble in the first half, but the Mavericks came away with a 105-97 Game 1 win in San Antonio, snapping a nine-game playoff losing streak. It was their first playoff win since Game 2 of the 2006 NBA Finals.

The Mavericks went back to San Antonio for Game 5 and clinched the 4-1 series with a 106-93 win. Nowitzki played 42 minutes, scoring 31 points while Jason Terry added 19 points. Duncan and Tony Parker combined for 56 of the Spurs’ 93 points. It marked the first time that Duncan would be bounced in the first round.

Nowitzki- 19.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 49.3 percent

Duncan- 19.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 53.2 percent


#1 San Antonio (63-19) vs #4 Dallas (60-22) 

Dallas was three games away from clinching the top seed out West, but had to settle for 4th back when the NBA rules had division leaders as the top-3, hence the Denver Nuggets (44 wins) clinching the 3rd seed.

The Mavericks began the postseason by sweeping Pau Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies while the Spurs took down the Sacramento Kings in six games.

This was the biggest series win for the Mavericks as they came in having lost the previous two series and eight of 11 games to the Spurs, and never getting to the Finals in five-straight playoffs.

This had the “little brother taking down the big brother” mentality behind it as the Mavericks won 4-3, defeated the Suns in the WCF and made it to their first Finals in franchise history.

Nowitzki finished with 20 points and 14 boards, but shot just 1-of-4 for two points in the 4th as the Spurs came away with a 87-85 Game 1 win at home. Duncan had 31 and 13. *Some great highlights here, brings me back when SportsCenter looked like this. And take note at the 0:45 mark…Look at those moves from DIRK, who else misses that! 

The Mavs would go on to win three straight to take a 3-1 lead into Game 5 in San Antonio. Great stat here…in Game 3, Nowitzki grabbed 15 boards and scored 27 points, but he was just 3-of-9 from the field and didn’t attempt a single trey. So how does he finish with 27? He was an incredible 21-of-24 from the free-throw line!

In Game 4 in Big D, Terry dropped a team-high 32 points while Nowitzki added 28 as the Mavs won 123-118 in overtime. Jerry Stackhouse scored 26 points. The big three for the Spurs combined for 90 points. Terry put the Mavs up 109-108 before former Maverick Michael Finley hit the go-ahead 3-pointer. Nowitzki would tie it at 111 at the line before Duncan missed at the buzzer.

San Antonio won Game 5 and 6 to tie the series at 3-3. The Spurs won Game 5, 98-97 as the Mavs couldn’t hit at the buzzer. Both teams wouldn’t make a field goal in the final three minutes. Despite 26 points and 21 rebounds from Nowitzki, the Spurs won 96-91 in Dallas to force a Game 7. Ginobili went off for 30 points and 10 boards.

In Game 7, the Spurs took their FIRST lead, 104-101 with 32 seconds left after Ginobili knocked down a three. It was slipping for the Mavericks, they were on the verge of losing a playoff series they were up 3-1 in. Nowitzki was thinking “NOT AGAIN, NOT TO THE SPURS AGAIN.” He was tired of losing to the Spurs, he was tired of another playoff exit. He knew the Mavs should’ve won in Game 5 or 6, yet the Spurs came back for a Game 7. And the numbers were on the Spurs’ side. 82 percent of the time, the home team won Game 7. The Spurs were trying to become the ninth team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit. Dirk said…not this time. With Bruce Bowen once again guarding him, Nowitzki drove to the paint and drew the and-1 in one of his most iconic images of his storied career. 37 points from Dirk, 27 from Terry and the Mavs finally defeated the Spurs 119-111 in overtime to advance to the WCF.

Nowitzki- 27.1 points, 13.3 rebounds, 52.7 percent

Duncan- 32.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 55.6 percent


#1 San Antonio (60-22) vs #3 Dallas (60-22)

The Spurs won the West by virtue of winning the season series with Dallas. But these two would meet for the 2nd time in the last three postseasons. It marked the second conference finals for Dallas, first since 1988.

The Mavericks came into the match up after going the full seven games in the first two rounds, defeating the Blazers and the Kings. After losing in both Game 6’s, Dallas would win by 12 and 13 at home in both Game 7’s.

For the Spurs, they were coming off back-to-back 4-2 series wins over the Suns and Lakers.

Trailing big early, Nowitzki led a comeback as the Mavs won 113-110 in Game 1 in San Antonio. Dirk scored 17 of his 38 points from the charity stripe. Duncan had 40 points, 15 rebounds and seven dimes. *Sorry for the sound quality, but Nash and Raja Bell…TALK ABOUT FLASHBACKS! 

Dallas won both games in San Antonio, but lost all three at home as the Spurs advanced to the NBA Finals with a 4-2 win. The key here was that Dirk played 40 minutes in a 13-point Game 3 loss and unfortunately collided knees with Ginobili which forced him out the final three games.

Nowitzki (3 games)- 25.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 43.1 percent

Duncan- 28.0 points, 16.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 3.0 blocks, 56.9 percent


#1 San Antonio (58-24) vs #5 Dallas (53-29) 

Dallas was making its first playoff appearance in 11 years and set a date with the Spurs after dispatching Karl Malone, John Stockton and the Utah Jazz 3-2 in the first round.

The Spurs defeated Kevin Garnett and the T’Wolves 3-1 in the first round in their 21st playoff appearance in 25 NBA seasons.

In his first playoff appearance, Dirk had a pair of 33-point games as the Mavs won three straight to defeat the Jazz. In his first conference semis, however, he only scored nine on 3-of-13 shooting as the Mavericks lost Game 1, 94-78.

The Spurs would go on to win the next two to take a 3-0 lead.

Nowitzki scored just 43 points in the first three games, but went off for 30 in Game 4 and 42 and 18 in Game 5, but it wasn’t enough as the Spurs sent the Mavs home in five games. *Game 4 highlights from the classic NBA on NBC…boy-ish Dirk…SORRY for the video, it’s in German, but it’s the only one I could find on YouTube AND I wanted Mavs fans to see the old REUNION ARENA, it’s final year before the AAC opened later that year. 

Duncan would record a double-double in all five games and add that with the 2003 and 2006 playoffs, he recorded 12 straight double-doubles against Dallas, including four 20-rebound games.

Even though the lost, it really set up Dirk for things to come.

Nowitzki- 23.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 44.6 percent

Duncan- 27.0 points, 17.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.0 blocks, 51 percent

Now it sets up the sixth playoff match up in 14 years. Once again, Dirk. Once again, Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. Mavs vs Spurs. Dallas has lost nine straight meetings, but have come in winning six of seven on the road. If anyone is going to beat the Spurs, it’s someone who has playing experience against them…Dirk and the Mavs. Nowitzki and Duncan will meet for at least the 79th, 80th, 81st and 82nd time in their careers (including playoffs).

Nowitzki (26 playoff games vs SAS): 24.3 points, 10 rebounds

Duncan (29 playoff games vs DAL): 25.1 points, 12.7 rebounds

Check out for ALL stories on the Mavs’ first-round match up with San Antonio. Catch up on stories, schedule and position match ups.