And because of it, so do the Dallas Mavericks’ chances of pulling a first-round shocker in the NBA Playoffs.
Carter’s last-gasp corner 3-pointer swished through the net at the buzzer Saturday afternoon, sending the Mavs to a 109-108 victory and the sellout crowd into a frenzy not seen at American Airlines Center since the team’s last home playoff win – Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals over the Miami Heat almost three years ago.
The Mavs have won a championship. Played in two NBA Finals. They’ve been in 35 playoff series over 19 Springs, playing in a combined 195 post-season games. And although Saturday’s drama didn’t lead to a trophy and merely won a game against the heavily-favored Spurs at the start of a first-round series, the style and substance still shoves into the franchise’s Top 15 all-time playoff games.
One man’s list:
15. 5.7.2005: Mavs 116, Rockets 76 – Expecting a tight, tense Game 7 of their first-round series, the Mavs instead produce an epic 40-point blowout to eliminate Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady and their intrastate rivals.
14. 6.2.1988: Mavs 105, Lakers 103 – Dallas more than proves it belongs on the same court with the star-studded Lakers of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy by forcing a Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. A young center named Roy Tarpley seals the tense, home victory with a shocking block of Jabbar in the final minute.
13. 5.9.2003: Mavs 113, Spurs 110 – After surviving Game 7s in the first two rounds against the Blazers and Kings, Don Nelson’s up-tempo team shocks the heavily favored Spurs in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals with an uncanny shooting performance. The Mavs, led by Dirk Nowitzki’s 17-of-17 performance, make an uncanny 49 of 50 free throws (Eduardo Najera ruins the perfection) to upset San Antonio.
12. 5.5.1988: Mavs 107, Rockets 97: In one of the best shooting performances in franchise history, Mark Aguirre pours in 24 points in the first quarter en route to a 38-point night that helps Dallas win Game 4 and its first-round series over Houston at The Summit.
11. 5.3. 2001: Mavs 84, Jazz 83 – After a 10-year absence from the playoffs, Dallas loudly announces its return by ushering in the era of owner Mark Cuban and a third-year forward named Dirk Nowitzki that would become a post-season mainstay for the next 12 years. Michael Finley scores 33 points, but it’s center Calvin Booth’s layup in the final minute that leads Dallas to a Game 5 upset of John Stockton, Karl Malone and the stunned Jazz in Salt Lake City.
10. 5.23.2011: Mavs 112, Thunder 105 – Down 15 points in Oklahoma City with five minutes remaining in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, Nowitzki’s 40 points and Jason Kidd’s savvy plays in the clutch lead a dramatic rally for an overtime win that gives Dallas a commanding 3-1 series lead and totally deflates the young Thunder.
9. 4.18.1985: Mavs 139, Blazers 131 – Rolando Blackman scores 43 points and the Mavs rally from 16 points down to win Game 1 of their first-round series in a thrilling double-overtime classic witnessed by Reunion Arena and its Rowdies.
8. 4.23.1987: Mavs 151, Sonics 129 – Dallas opens Game 1 of the playoffs with a historic blowout, putting up a franchise playoff-record 151 points despite going 0 of 3 on 3-pointers. It is short-lived, however, as the Mavs lose the next three games of the series and are eliminated.
7. 5.8.2011: Mavs 122, Lakers 86 – The Mother's Day Massacre features Dallas sweeping the Lakers and sending Phil Jackson into retirement by splashing a playoff-record 20 3-pointers in a laugher. It is only Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals, but there’s always something special about beating L.A. in the postseason.
6. 4.26.2014: Mavs 109, Spurs 108 – It probably won’t lead to a title and may not even vault the Mavs to win this series, but for sheer hold-your-breath drama and oh-my-God exaltation, Carter’s corner 3-pointer that swished at the buzzer will be awfully hard to beat for years to come.
5. 6.1.2006: Mavs 117, Suns 101 – With the Western Conference Finals tied at 2-2, Dirk Nowitzki hangs 50 points on Phoenix and old buddy Steve Nash to take a giant step toward their first NBA Finals berth. Dirk makes 5 of 6 3-pointers, 17 of 18 free throws and, just for fun, adds 12 rebounds in one of the most dominant clutch performances in franchise history.
4. 6.9.2011: Mavs 112, Heat 103 – Jason Terry hits a long, late 3-pointer in LeBron James’ mug and the Mavs hold on to win Game 5 of the NBA Finals, taking a 3-2 lead headed back to Miami. Over 28 years as a sportswriter in DFW, it remains the loudest building I’ve ever been in.
3. 5.22.2006: Mavs 119, Spurs 111 – Capping a fierce, fantastic series, Nowitzki’s driving three-point play over Manu Ginobli punctuates a 37-point, 15-rebound performance and forces overtime, where the Mavs win Game 7 to shock San Antonio and move to the Western Conference Finals.
2. 4.26.1984: Mavs 105, Sonics 104 – In their first ever playoff series, Dallas has to move its Game 5 to SMU because Reunion Arena had long ago booked a tennis tournament. The Mavs trail by seven with two minutes remaining, force overtime and win the decisive game in a packed, raucous college gym. Long live Moody Madness.
1. 6.12.2011: Mavs 105, Heat 95 – There’s nothing like your first trophy, especially when it remains your only. Terry scores 27 points, Nowitzki is named MVP and Cuban hugs founding father Don Carter on the hated Heat’s home floor. Cue the chill bumps.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.