Top 5 teams in the history of the Dallas Mavericks
Since their inception in the 1980-1981 NBA season, the Dallas Mavericks have gone from being a perennial playoff contender to the NBA cellar and back again. In its 35-season history, Dallas has also produced 29 NBA All-Star selections, 20 playoff appearances, three division titles, two conference titles, and is one of 17 franchises to win an NBA title (one of just six franchises since 1999).
With NBA training camp on the horizon, we here at DallasBasketball.com have decided to count down the top 5 teams in the history of the Mavs franchise – with a few caveats of course:
This is a comprehensive list that takes into account everything from regular-season record, to playoff performances, to roster talent, and awards. Therefore, simply having a great regular-season record is not enough to secure a high spot on the list.
Playoff performance, while our most influential stat, is not necessarily the deciding factor either, so keep that in mind.
This list is completely subjective so if you find yourself disagreeing with our rankings, please make a case for your own list here on DB.com Boards, and let's try and have some fun with it.
5. 2006-2007 Mavericks (Lost 1st round (2-4) Vs. Golden State Warriors)
Owners of the best regular-season record in franchise history (tied for the sixth best in NBA history); the 2006-07 Mavs were a talented bunch. Dirk won the MVP, and the Mavs were the owners of two All-Stars and the leagues best record. In fact, many believed this team to be sure-fire NBA champions, after dominating the Spurs three games to one in the regular season, and no real contenders in the East.
With a starting lineup that consisted of MVP winner Dirk Nowitzki, the sharp shooting Jason Terry, a budding young point guard in Devin Harris, and elite defenders in Josh Howard and Eric Dampier, the Mavs boasted one of the best rosters in the NBA. The Mavs also finished with ninth-best scoring offense, averaging 100.0 points per game, as well as the fourth best defense in the league, that surrendered just 92.8 points per game.
Unfortunately for Dallas, not only would they fail to reach the finals, but they would also become the first number one seed in NBA history to fall to an eight seed in a seven-game series when, falling to the Warriors in six games. Had this team not choked like Phil Mickelson at Wingfoot in the first round, the sky was the limit. Unfortunately, they did. Which is why despite their regular accolades, they sit at number five on our list.
4. 2002-2003 Mavericks (Lost Western Conference Finals (2-4) Vs. San Antonio Spurs)
After finally breaking out of the second round for the first time since the 1987-1988 season, 2002-2003 Mavs were an exciting team to watch. Led by a big three of Steve Nash, Michael Finley and The Big German, Dallas looked all but unstoppable heading into the playoffs.
During the regular season, the Mavs shared the best record in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs, finishing with a record of 60-22. The Mavs would enter the playoffs as the number three seed however, due to the spurs winning the tiebreaker, and the Sacramento Kings (59-23) winning their division.
The Mavs would begin their playoff run by handling the Portland Trailblazers in round one and handling the Kings in round two. Heading into the conference finals, Dallas had momentum behind Dirk and Nash, and was champing at the bit for a finals appearance.
However, despite stealing home court away from the Spurs, the Mavs were dealt an insurmountable blow when their superstar, Dirk, went down with a season ending knee injury in game three. Without their bell cow on the court, the Mavs couldn’t hang with the Spurs, who would coast their way to their second NBA title under Greg Popovich.
This gives us a chance to echo what Fish said on 105.3 The Fan about the idea of Nash coming back to Dallas as a player now, an idea reported by Marc Stein. It's a fine story ... but a lousy idea. We prefer to remember Nash as he was ... not as what he is now, the result of so many back issues. We'll take the memories. They are enough.
3. 2005-2006 Mavericks (Lost NBA Finals (2-4) Vs. Miami Heat)
Dallas entered the 2005-2006 season on the heels of a disappointing exit in the Western Conference semifinals at the hands of the Steve Nash and Phoenix Suns. Hungry for more, Dirk and the Mavericks set out on a path that would ultimately result in the first visit to the NBA Finals in franchise history.
Equipped with an exciting young point guard in Devin Harris, a plethora of defensive stalwarts in Marquis Daniels, Josh Howard and Eric Dampier, and exciting secondary offensive options in Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse, The Mavs were primed and ready for a deep run in the playoffs. The Mavs also boasted one of the best offensive attacks in the league; led by Dirk who averaged 26.6 points and nine boards per game on the season. The Mavs finished the season with the second best record in Western Conference with a record of 60-22, and entered the playoffs as the number four seed.
After defeating the Grizzlies in round one came a dramatic victory over the Spurs. Dallas would eventually enter the conference finals against the Suns with momentum. After finally returning to the West finals, Dallas would eventually get the proverbial monkey off of their back behind a hall of fame performance by The Big German and head to the Finals to face Dwayne Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat.
The Mavs start to the Finals couldn’t have been better, as they got off to a 2-0 series lead. It was at that point however, that the wheels fell off, as Dirk and the Mavs lost four straight en route to Miami’s first ever NBA title behind Dwayne Wade’s insane 34.7 points per game. Despite the loss, Dallas had a tremendous season, and reached heights that no Mavs team had ever seen before, landing them on our list at the number three spot.
Close your eyes, Mavs fans.
2. 1987-1988 Mavericks (Lost Western Conference Finals (3-4) Vs. Los Angeles Lakers)
While it can be argued that the 2005-06 team should be ranked here, 1987-88 Dallas Mavs were a supremely talented bunch in their own right. Led by Mark Aguirre, Ro Blackman and Derek Harper, Dallas possessed a balanced attack on both ends of the floor.
Coach John MacLeod’s Mavs finished the regular season with a 53-29 record and the league's fifth best record behind Aguirre’s 25.1 points per game. Dallas would coast through round one, defeating Houston three games to one, and the take down the Denver Nuggets in six games in round two. The third round however provided an entirely different challenge.
In the 80’s, the Showtime Lakers were the class of the NBA, winning five titles in eight years. Dallas however would not be intimidated by Magic, Kareem and company, and gave the Lakers all they could handle, splitting the first four games. In the end however, “Showtime” would prevail on the way to a fifth title of the decade.
In the end, we believe this team deserved the number two spot due to the supreme talent and competition they faced in the playoffs. Had things gone differently in game seven, the Mavs may have been in great position to take down the Bad Boy Pistons in the Finals. ... unfortunately we will never know.
1. 2010-2011 Mavericks (Won NBA Finals (4-2) Vs. Miami Heat)
At the beginning of the 2010 NBA season, nobody was talking about the Mavs. They had received monikers such as “The One and Done Boys”, and were not expected to make any kind of dent of the playoff landscape. The “experts,” however, could not have been more wrong.
The Nowitzki-led Mavs (57-25) were bolstered by a Hall-of-Fame caliber point guard in Jason Kidd, the always dangerous Jet, defensive stopper Shawn Marion and their first legitimate rim protector in years in Tyson Chandler. Throughout the playoffs the Mavs would also receive massive contributions from the likes of J.J. Barea, Peja Stojakovic and DeShawn Stevenson.
Though not necessarily the most talented Mavs team, they personified the team mentality under coach Rick Carlisle, defeating a myriad of superiorly talented teams on their road to the Finals. And man were they deep.
After defeating an upstart Trailblazers bunch in round one, the Mavs absolutely dismantled the heavily-favored Lakers in round two behind lights-out performances by Jet Terry and Barea. As the Lakers frustration began to show, Dallas went for the kill, finishing the Lakers in a four-game sweep.
In round three, the Mavs faced the young and talented Oklahoma City Thunder, led by Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Behind an all-time series performance by Dirk, Dallas would take advantage of the Thunder’s youth and inexperience, winning the series in just five games.
In the Finals, Dirk and the Mavs would face LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and the NBA’s new evil empire in the Miami Heat. The Mavericks, however, would not be intimidated, despite dropping two of the series’ first three games. Dallas would ultimately take the next three from the Heat en route to the franchise’s first ever NBA title. In the Finals, Dirk was brilliant, finishing the series averaging 26 points and 9.7 boards per game while earning the NBA Finals MVP.
This Mavs team bucked the NBA trend, becoming just the sixth different team to win a title since 1999 while braving one of the toughest roads to a title in recent memory. And they did it without forming a “super team” or a “big three”. They were a team in the truest sense of the word. And for those reasons, it’s no surprise that this team lands at number one on our list.