Dallas Mavericks: 15 best playoff moments in franchise history

By Noah Rubinstein
Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /
6 of 16
Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki
Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki (Photo by: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Dallas Mavericks best playoff moment: 11. Mavs top Kings before Dirk goes down in 2003

The most overlooked headline of the 2003 NBA playoffs is the injuries to key big men in the Western Conference. The Mavericks and Kings were two of the best teams in the NBA that season. Many experts picked Sacramento to win it all before Chris Webber tore his ACL in the second round against the Mavs.

Dallas was the underdog heading into the series. It took them seven games to advance to the Western Conference Finals. With Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Michael Finley on the roster, the Mavericks had the chance to make the finals for the first time in franchise history.

In game three of the Western Conference Finals, Dirk also went down with a knee injury. There was a lot of speculation if he should continue to play or not. The Mavs were already deep in the playoffs, but risking any long-term injury to their young star would ruin their future. In the end, Don Nelson elected to sit Dirk for the rest of the series. The Mavs lost in six games.

Many people around the league started to call Dirk “soft”, but there was no guarantee the Mavericks would win the series even if he played. Risking his health in 2003 may have prevented everything else that came in the future. The Kings have not returned to that level since Chris Webber went down. Thankfully, the Mavs followed a different path.