After suffering an overtime loss in their season finale, the Dallas Mavericks are set to face off with the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the 2014 postseason.
The Mavericks are making their 13th appearance in 14 years while the Spurs are in the postseason for the 17th straight year, every year of Tim Duncan’s career.
It will mark the sixth playoff match up between the two in their history, all since Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki arrived into the league.
Since this stretch for the Mavs, it will be the 25th playoff series with 24 percent of them coming against Southwest-rival Gregg Poppovich and San Antonio.
The Spurs lead after the first five match ups, 3-2, winning 16 of the 29 playoff games.
Nowitzki is averaging 24.3 points and 10 rebounds in 26 playoff games against the Spurs while Duncan is averaging 25.1 points and 12.7 rebounds in all 29 playoff games against the Mavs.
The two have tangled in the first round in the last three playoff meetings, including this year’s. They’ve also battled in the 2009 and 2010 first round, 2006 and 2001 conference semifinals, and the 2003 West finals.
It has been a one-sided affair of recent with the Spurs winning the last nine match ups with Dallas. The Spurs have swept the Mavs the past two seasons, first time that’s happen since sweeping three in a row in the early 90s.
Nowitzki and Duncan will meet for the 79th time (including playoffs) in their hall-of-fame careers on April 20. Game 1 is set to start at 1:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on TNT. Game 2 will be on April 23 on NBATV.
Only once in the six match ups have the Mavs been the higher seed and that was in their most recent meeting back in 2010.
The Mavericks finished with the No. 2 seed while they hosted the No. 7 Spurs. Dallas took Game 1, 100-94, but eventually fell in six games. Nowitzki averaged 26.7 points during the series.
Dallas and San Antonio met during the 2009 first round where the Mavs bounced Duncan out of the first round for the first time in his career. Josh Howard scored 25 points during Game 1 while the Mavs won in five games. Nowitzki scored 31 points in 42 minutes during Game 5.
The 2006 Western Conference Finals was probably the best series between the two. After failing to advance to the NBA Finals in five straight playoffs, in which the Mavericks lost two straight series and eight of 11 playoff games to the Spurs, Dallas finally got over the hump during the seven-game battle.
Dallas took a 3-1 lead before the Spurs won Game 5 and 6 to force a Game 7 back in San Antonio.
The Mavericks had control for most of the game before Manu Ginobili knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer with 32 seconds left to play, the Spurs’ first lead of the game.
In one of his most iconic plays of his storied career, Nowitzki drove on Bruce Bowen and drew an and-1 with 21.6 seconds. He would knock down the free throw to send the game into overtime at 104-104 before the Mavs won 119-111 and went on to their 3rd conference finals against the Suns, and first NBA Finals against the Heat. Nowitzki would average 27.3 points and 13.3 rebounds on 52.7 percent shooting.
The two met in the 2003 conference finals, the Mavs’ first since 1988. They won Game 1, 113-110, behind Nowitzki’s 38 points, 17 from the charity stripe, but the Mavs would fall in six games. Nowitzki only played three games after colliding knees with Ginobili near the end of Game 3 that forced him out of the rest of the series. Nowitzki would finish with averages of 25.3 points and 11.7 rebounds.
The 2001 postseason marked the first for Nowitzki, and first for the Mavericks in 11 seasons. After defeating John Stockton and Karl Malone in five games, the Mavericks would lose to the Spurs in five games. The Spurs won the first three, in which Nowitzki scored just 43 points. He went on to score 30 in a Game 4 win before scoring 42 in a Game 5 loss.
Nowitzki finished with the 13th-best scoring average in the NBA at 21.7 a game while he held the 2nd-best free-throw mark at 89.9 percent.
In four games against the Spurs this season, Nowitzki averaged 18.5 points on 48.4 percent shooting.
In their final meeting, the Spurs won in Dallas, 109-100 on April 10. Dallas held a two-point halftime lead before the Spurs outscored the Mavs by 13 in the 3rd. Nowitzki was held to 19 points while Monta Ellis had a team-high 24.
Ellis is averaging 21.3 against San Antonio this year, 19 points overall.
The duo ended the season on a high note, averaging 42.8 combined points in their last 10 games while averaging 44.9 points in the month of April. They both won Western Conference player of the week awards in consecutive weeks, marking the first time that’s happen for two Maverick teammates in franchise history.