Oh, the year of 2007. The historically amazing regular season, highlighted by Dirk’s MVP, followed by the historically terrible first round loss to the wretched Golden State Warriors, led by former Mavericks coach Don Nelson. Many people consider this the biggest upset in NBA history, and, while I hate admitting it, they might be right.
This infamous season, which followed the devastating 2006 Finals loss to Dwayne Wade and the Heat, actually started with the Mavericks going winless after the first 4 games of the season. With an opening night loss to the rival San Antonio Spurs, whom the Mavs defeated in the Western Conference semifinals the previous year, and three more losses after that, including a home loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Mavs season looked very bleak.
However, after that, the Mavs decided that they wanted to win. Following that four-game losing streak, Dallas instantly went on a fantastic 12-game winning streak, which included big wins against Steve Nash and the Suns as well as a rematch against the Spurs.
The Mavs went on to have one of the greatest regular seasons in NBA history, finishing 67-15. There was big speculation on whether the Mavs could end up winning 70 games, but it was always unlikely, and a loss to the Nuggets in Denver towards the end of the season ended those hopes. With that being said, 67 wins is still pretty amazing.
Dirk Nowitzki had a spectacular season as usual and finally ended up winning the MVP award because of the Mavs’ spectacular record. The race was down to him and his best bud Steve Nash, who had won the award the previous two years.
In fact, the regular season’s best game was probably the phenomenal duel between the Mavs and Suns in which the two MVP candidates went at it in a contest that went to double overtime and showcased both of their amazing skills. Dirk had a monstrous jam after driving the lane and Nash had a crazy game-tying corner three to send the game into the first overtime after Shawn Marion grabbed the offensive rebound on his initial missed three. And Jason Terry also had a ridiculous game-tying three that sent the game into double-overtime. While the Mavs ended up losing the game, Dirk was still the ultimate winner of the MVP.
After winning 67 games, Mavs fans were ready to bring a trophy back to Dallas as they were the instant title favorites. The Mavs were finally going to get their first ring. They were finally going to get redemption from the terrible Finals loss the year before. In fact, they even won the season series against the eventual champion Spurs 3-1 that year. But then everything came crashing down.
During that historic regular season, there was one team that the Mavs and all the fans knew that they didn’t want to be matched up with come playoff time: The Golden State Warriors. The Mavs went winless against the Warriors in three games that season. To put that into bigger perspective, 20% of the losses the Mavs had that year came against Golden State.
But nobody thought that the lowly Warriors would actually end up making the playoffs. So, the Mavs were good, right? Well, as it turns out, they weren’t good. The Warriors ended the season on a furious run to get into the playoffs. And the nightmare that the Mavs had hoped to avoid was about to happen. The Mavs got matched up with the one team in the entire league they couldn’t beat in the first round of the playoffs.
In the playoffs, Don Nelson clearly knew how to stop the league’s MVP, and without him, the Mavs had no shot. Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, and a young Monta Ellis led the charge for the Warriors who took game 1 at the AAC, and didn’t lose a home game after that. And honestly, most people who had seen those two teams play against each other that year weren’t that surprised, including myself. Actually, at school the next day, my teacher knew not to call on me for any questions. The Mavs just didn’t know how to beat that team. Avery Johnson’s firing was probably thought of at that time, and it ended up happening a year later after another first-round exit.
The Mavs had actually known the feeling of losing to the Warriors all too well in previous years as they had lost in heartbreaking fashion on game winners by Richardson and Davis the last couple of years. But nothing came even close to how bad this one hurt. After the loss, people even questioned whether Dirk deserved the MVP, but, of course, that’s a regular season award.
But now, when Mavs fans think of 2007, they don’t think of Dirk’s MVP. They think of what could have been, which is probably a championship. When you think of the pain Mavs fans went through before we won it all, you always think of that series.
However, if you really think about it, you never know if the Mavs would have won the championship in 2011, or any other year. So maybe this was just a test of loyalty. Because the 2011 championship felt a whole lot better than what a championship in 2007 would have felt like, especially since we got the Heat in the Finals.