No. 3 playoff series of all-time: 2006 Mavs-Spurs

June, 7, 2011
6/07/11
12:10
PM CT
The NBA has had countless memorable series through the years. But which are the best ever? John Hollinger ranks his top 50, and the seven-game classic between the Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs in 2006 are ranked at No. 3.

His take on that series:
Due to a quirk in seeding, Dallas and San Anotnio met each other in the second round in 2006 despite each winning 60 regular-season games. But even though it happened a little early, these Texas rivals gave us an absolute classic -- in fact, this series had the highest raw score of any series, at 34.4.

Five of the seven games were within two points at the end of regulation, including two that went to overtime. One of those OT games was the last one, with a Dirk Nowitzki and-1 basket, tying the game with 21 seconds left in regulation. That proved the difference, as the Mavs won in overtime on the road en route to their first Finals appearance.

But up until then it looked like the Mavs would be lamenting the one that got away. Dallas was up 3-1 in the series and led by 20 in the finale before falling behind. The Mavs also lost Game 6 in part because guard Jason Terry was suspended after punching Michael Finley in a scrum near the end of Game 5. That contest was another classic, with neither team scoring in the final 1:59, and Bruce Bowen's last-second block of Nowitzki's shot saving the 98-97 San Antonio win.

The opener wasn't too shabby either, with Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse memorably passing up an open 2-pointer to dribble out to the 3-point line on the last play -- even though his team was down only two points. His contested look missed badly.
Also making his rankings: 2006 Mavs-Heat (No. 7); 2007 Mavs-Warriors (No. 29) and 2001 Mavs-Jazz (No. 31).

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9