The 2006 Western Divisional final between the Mavericks and the Spurs were legendary because of two aspects. This was the last time two teams met in a divisional final that had not the best recorders. The Mavericks had the same record as the 8th seed and was seeded 3rd. The playoff format had the best teams in each division get the highest seeds which is different from today’s format. This playoff series witnessed one of the best battles between Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan.
Legendary Divisional Round Final
This divisional final highlighted the battle between two future Hall of fame power forwards. At the time the Mavericks never beat the Spurs during the Dirk Nowitzki era. In 2001 and 2003 the Mavs lost to the Spurs due to Dirk’s injury but in 2006 he was healthy. He had the best help around him during his career with Jason Terry and Josh Howard. The Spurs had their own power three which consist of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.
2006 Western Divisional Final Game 1
The series started off with the two teams struggling on offense. Both Duncan and Nowitzki shot a terrible 14 of 38 FG combined. Fortunately in the fourth quarter Tim Duncan finally woke up. He finished the game with 31 points and 13 rebounds. Jerry Stackhouse of the Mavericks missed a game winning three pointer to win the game. The final score was Spurs 87 and the Mavericks 85.
This was the most lopsided game in the series. The Mavericks jumped out to a 20 point lead at halftime and never gave up the lead sense. Josh Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, and Devin Harris scored at least 20 points each.
The Mavericks defense eliminated scoring off the perimeter especially Devin Harris that shutdown Tony Parker most of the game. Harris had his best playoff game ever collecting 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.
The Dallas Mavericks won game two by a score of 113 – 91. They flipped the script on the number 1 defense by having a masterminded game.
2006 Western Divisional Finals games 3 and 4
The two games moved to Dallas where they won both games by a total of 6 points. Both games had extreme excitement at the end.
In game 3 the Mavs were up 104 to 103 with 8 seconds left. The Spur were going for a breakaway but Ginobili lost the ball. Then the Spurs intentionally fouled Jerry Stackhouse which ultimately missed both free throws. With 2 seconds left Robert Horry missed the shot in the paint which ended the game at 104 – 103.
In game 4 it was a close game throughout. The Spurs had their star Tim Duncan take the last shot in a tie game but he missed sending the game to overtime. The Mavericks won 123 -118 in overtime with Jason Terry leading the way with 32 points and 5 assists.
Game 5 Spurs down 3 games to 1
Game 5 was yet another close game yet this was a game the Spurs could not lose. Dirk finished the game with 31 points and 10 rebounds for the Mavericks while Tim Duncan had 36 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs. Dirk Nowitzki took the last shot to win the game but was blocked by Bruce Bowen with no time remaining. The Spurs won game 5 98-97 forcing game 6.
Before game 6 the league suspended Jason Terry for throwing a punch during a pileup in game 5. This was huge since Terry was the second best scorer for the Mavericks.
Dirk had 26 points and 21 rebounds but without the help of Jason Terry it wasn’t enough. The Spurs ended up winning 91-86 causing a game 7 in San Antonio.
2006 Western divisional final game 7
The statistics favored the Spurs since 82% of game 7 series ends the home team winning. It was a brutal back and forth game. Dirk hit a jumper to tie the game 104 to 104 which left the Spurs with many chances to capitalize. The game went to overtime.
The unspoken hero of the game for the Mavs was Desagana Diop. He rarely played any crunch time minutes and shutdown Tim Duncan. He held Duncan to 1 for 7 shooting in overtime. Dirk finished the Spurs off by winning game seven 117 to 111 in overtime thus eliminating the Spurs from the playoffs.
After this season the NBA decided to change the playoff structure since the Mavericks had the same record as the eighth seed. They made it to where the first 4 seeds were by division winners so that you would have the 4 best teams at the top. In 2006 the Mavs were a 3rd seed. Eventually today’s system basically eliminates divisions by which they just go off by best 8 records.
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