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2014 Playoff Primer: Mavs renew rivalry with Spurs Subscribe via RSS

2013-14 Mavericks Top 10

Watch as the Mavericks Top 10 plays from 2013-14 are unveiled.

Let’s do it again.

For the sixth time since the 2000-01 season, Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan will square off in the playoffs. Their supporting casts have changed over the years, but Nowitzki and Duncan have been the constants. And beginning Sunday at noon, we’ll get to watch two of the greatest players of their generation — and of any generation, for that matter — do battle one more time. Basketball juggernauts will face off on the biggest stage of them all. What’s not to like?

You know the Spurs’ main cast of characters by now. Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Gregg Popovich are at the helm of San Antonio’s well-oiled offensive machine, but there are so many other productive players on the roster, and that’s what makes them so good. The dynastic Spurs put together a 62-win season despite a flurry of injuries in the middle of the campaign. They earned the No. 1 seed in one of the best conferences ever.

Despite the Mavericks’ position as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, Dallas is not an opponent to mess around with. The Mavs’ high-powered offense propelled them to 49 wins in the West, more than any 8-seed in the NBA since the 2010 Oklahoma City Thunder’s 50 Ws. Monta Ellis and Devin Harris brought another gear to the offense, Shawn Marion brought back his three-point shot, and Dirk is still Dirk.

Although a 1/8 matchup might seem daunting, recent history has shown in a conference as deep as the West, records don’t mean anything once the playoffs begin. Twice since 2007 has a West No. 8 seed toppled a No. 1 seed. Mavs fans will remember the first instance, when Monta Ellis and the Golden State Warriors upset Nowitzki’s 67-win Mavericks. Four years later, however, first-ranked San Antonio fell victim to the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.

Regular-season records mean even less when the Mavs and Spurs meet in the playoffs. Going back to 2006, each of the last three Dallas/San Antonio playoff series has been won by the lower-seeded team.

I-35 Rivalry

Year Higher Seed Lower Seed Winner
2001 Spurs (1) Mavs (5) Spurs in 5
2003 Spurs (1) Mavs (3) Spurs in 6
2006 Spurs (1) Mavs (4) Mavs in 7
2009 Spurs (3) Mavs (6) Mavs in 5
2010 Mavs (2) Spurs (7) Spurs in 6
2014 Spurs (1) Mavs (8) TBD

Younger MFFLs might also have forgotten that in the 2003 Western Conference Finals, the Mavericks were very close to forcing a Game 7 against the favored Spurs despite losing Nowitzki in Game 3 to injury. Rivalries bring out the best in each team, regardless of seeding.

It’s safe to say that throughout the last 15 years, perhaps no two teams have remained as consistently excellent as the Mavs and Spurs. This has become one of pro sports’ finest and most dramatic rivalries. In a matter of days we’ll get to see Dirk, Duncan, Parker, and the rest play out Act VI.