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The Mavericks have had a nice run of success in a super-competitive NBA

It hasn’t been easy for the Dallas Mavericks to carve out a niche for themselves in the NBA over the past 20 years, with so many talented teams trying very hard to prevent them from doing so.

If it wasn’t Kobe Bryant and the Lakers from the Western Conference in the 2000s, it was Tim Duncan and those ever-present San Antonio Spurs. If the Mavs managed to make it out of the West, they’d find Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and a Heats “Super Team” from the Eastern Conference standing in the way. As for the 2010s? The Lakers were still around, as were the Spurs. LeBron James joined Wade to form another extremely hot Heats squad in 2010. After winning back-to-back titles, James then went back to Cleveland, where he and the Cavaliers took on Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals every year from 2015-2018.

Again, hard to stand out in such a legendary crowd, but the Mavericks have done pretty well for themselves and will be in the NBA Finals for the third time in franchise history–and the third time since 2006–after vanquishing the Timberwolves in five games in the Western Conference Finals.

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving scored 36 points apiece, as the Dallas Mavericks won Game 5 convincingly, 124-103, at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Thursday night.

Doncic, who led the NBA in scoring during the regular season with 2,370 points, posted 20 in the first quarter, as Dallas jumped out to a 35-19 lead and led by a score of 69-40 at halftime.

The only thing left for Dallas to do was just maintain that lead over the final 24 minutes; it was mission accomplished, as the visitors opened up a 36-point lead in the second half, and the Timberwolves never got closer than 21 points.

It will be the first trip to the Finals for the Slovenian-born Doncic, the third-overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Doncic has been one of the best guards in the league during his career; he won Rookie of the Year in 2019 and has been voted to the All-NBA First-Team every season since 2020.

It will be the fourth trip to the Finals for Irving, a talented but controversial guard who is with his third team since making it to three NBA Finals and winning one world championship as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2011-2017.

It will be the first Finals appearance as a head coach for Jason Kidd, who also made it three times as a player and won his only NBA title during his second stint with the Mavericks in 2011.

Despite acquiring Irving in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets in February of 2023, the Mavericks, who lost to Golden State in the Western Conference Finals the year before, finished with a 38-44 record and did not qualify for the playoffs a season ago.

However, with such a formidable backcourt to start the 2023/2024 campaign, the Mavericks were likely to be strong contenders in the Western Conference again. Sure enough, they finished first in the Southwest Division with a 50-32 record and entered the postseason as a fifth seed. Dallas needed six games to knock off the Clippers and top-seeded Thunder in the first two rounds before easily dispatching the Wolves in the conference finals.

It will be Dallas’ first trip to the Finals since 2011.

Again, you have to give the Mavericks, who came to Dallas as an expansion team in 1980, credit for finding a way to remain competitive among so many talented NBA teams over the past two decades.

Led by Dirk Nowitzki, the German native who was an all-time great NBA power forward during his lengthy career, Dallas made it to the 2006 NBA Finals and took a 2-0 series lead before losing in six games to a talented Miami Heat squad, led by Wade and O’Neal.

Nowitzki was still the Mavericks’ top player five seasons later when they outlasted another powerful Heat squad–this time led by Wade and James–in seven games to capture their one and only NBA crown.

The Mavericks will begin their quest for a second world championship when they travel to TD Garden to take on a juggernaut Celtics team in Game 1 of the NBA Finals next Thursday at 8:30 pm.


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