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Did the 2011 Dallas Mavericks have the toughest path to an NBA Championship?

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster

Frame of reference;

First Round: Beat Portland Trail Blazers (Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge era) in 6 games.
Western Conference Semi-Finals: Swept the LA Lakers (Kobe's 2nd to last playoff season)
Western Conference Finals: Beat Oklahoma City Thunder (KD, Westbrook, and Harden coming into their primes) in 5 games.
And of course, they beat the Heatles in 6 games in Finals.


My gut instinct was absolutely no but now I think maybe? '80s-'90s great champions usually had at least one absolute chump early round series.

Only other one that comes to mind is another Texas team...'95 Houston Rockets, who were a 6 seed and beat the Malone-Stockton Jazz in first round in 5 games (back when 1st round series were 5 games), the Barkeley/Thunder Dan/Kevin Johnson Suns in 7 games, San Antonio Spurs in 6 games then swept the Orlando Magic.
 

HarleyQuinn

Laugh This Off... Puddin'!
Staff member
The 90-91 Chicago Bulls didn't have that easy a run but lost just 2 games in their run sweeping the New York Knicks (pre-prime Ewing/Oakley/Starks), the 76ers (a team that seemed on the rise with Barkley/Hawkins), the Pistons (were getting older but still had that aura to them), and the Lakers who still had Magic & Worthy.
 

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
My dad would probably disown me for not bringing up the '86 Celtics. Only lost 3 games during the entire playoffs, swept the Bulls (who sucked but had a young Jordan going HAM), beat the Dominique and Spud era Hawks in 5 games, swept a v. underrated Milwaukee Bucks team, beat Twin Towers era Houston Rockets (who dominated the Showtime Lakers) in 6.

Difference is though Celtics were favorites in all of those series
 
Also keep in mind this guy was irrelevant for most of the game, at least in the finals. Tough road implies he did most of it on his own but that team was stacked with the perfect kinds of role players. Anyone that watched those games knows he was money in the last five minutes but throughout the game the shooting of guys like Terry and Peja and the defence of guys like Marion and chandler kept them in it. He was obviously their mvp but he had a LOT of help.
 
Also the blazers and pacers teams that the lakers beat in 2000 were better than any of the teams the mavs played except the Heat. And I would argue that blazers team would have beat the Heat.
 

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
I feel like a few of the defeated teams mentioned in this thread would have defeated the 2010-11 Miami Heat. Only a Skip Bayless level troll would deny the Heatles eventually became a great team but they weren't quite there in 2011.
 

909

909
Staff member
It was a bloodbath to make it through the West in the mid-late 90s. I'd say the Rockets squad.

The Blazers and Lakers were cheeks when the Mavs beat them. Don't look at the names, look at the teams and how they played.
 

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
Obviously the answer is the Rockets team but man the Dirk hate is almost as bad as the Patriots hate here
Besides the Chauncey Billups, he is definitely technically the worst best player on an NBA Championship for the past 30 years but that would probably just add to the degree of difficulty. Dirk won a championship by accepting that he wasn't a one man wrecking crew and deferring to teammates as @The Art of Postin' said. Hakeem in '95 was just underlining that he was IMO a Top 15 all time player.


Good lord, his performance in '95 playoffs I don't think is talked about enough in terms of all time great playoff performances. He dominated his two greatest rivals at the time (Shaq and David Robinson) and took down some very very solid Suns & Jazz teams as well.
 

Alfdogg

Alfdogg
Besides the Chauncey Billups, he is definitely technically the worst best player on an NBA Championship for the past 30 years but that would probably just add to the degree of difficulty.

What is your definition of "worst"? Because IMO he would have been the best player on either of the last two Spurs teams to win as well as the 2008 Celtics, but it depends what you're defining as "worst".

Dirk won a championship by accepting that he wasn't a one man wrecking crew and deferring to teammates as @The Art of Postin' said.

So, he did what every great player ever to win a championship has done?

Also he averaged 26 & 10 in the Finals that year. His percentages were down from other series, but he wasn't exactly Peyton Manning with the Broncos.
 

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
What is your definition of "worst"? Because IMO he would have been the best player on either of the last two Spurs teams to win as well as the 2008 Celtics, but it depends what you're defining as "worst".
You're right. I think I was looking at things at too much in grand scheme of history. While Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett (and maybe Kawhi Leonard) are all better all time than Dirk, 2011 Dirk was better than '08 KG and 2014 Tim Duncan (or 2014 Kawhi)

So, he did what every great player ever to win a championship has done?
Aforementioned '95 Rockets were not a great roster and less talented team than 2011 Mavericks and Hakeem was kind of a one man wrecking crew for those ships.
 

Alfdogg

Alfdogg
I did mention offhandedly that I thought the Rockets team was the answer to the question. I will say though, that without Kenny Smith being unconscious in game 1, that series may turn out completely different. But yeah, the Magic were actually the "worst" team they played at 57 wins.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

Representing Blacks Without Soul since 1975
You're right. I think I was looking at things at too much in grand scheme of history. While Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett (and maybe Kawhi Leonard) are all better all time than Dirk, 2011 Dirk was better than '08 KG and 2014 Tim Duncan (or 2014 Kawhi)
Was he? A comparative view of their numbers does not seem to support this, unless you're basing your opinion on PPG, and nothing else: https://stathead.com/tiny/bwNvx
 
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