NBA Finals: 8 things Mavericks have in common with past champions

NBA Finals: 8 things Mavericks have in common with past champions

Alkass Digital

The Dallas Mavericks are making their third NBA Finals appearance, their first since 2011 and their first against a team other than the Miami Heat.

Here are eight qualities that this year’s Mavs have in common with NBA champions of the past.

 1. A scoring champion

Why this trait matters: At some point throughout a best-of-seven series, either the offense breaks down or the defense takes everything away. That’s when you need to get the ball to a proven scorer who can create their own scoring opportunity.

This is similar to: The 2000 Lakers and 1998 Bulls. Over the past 50 seasons, Luka Doncic is the sixth scoring champ to reach the Finals. During that time only two have won the title – Shaquille O’Neal with the 2000 Lakers and Michael Jordan in every season he reached the Finals (1991-93, 1996-98). The last three scoring champs to reach the Finals all came up short – 2001 Sixers (Allen Iverson), 2012 Thunder (Kevin Durant) and 2016 Warriors (Steph Curry).

2. International superstar

Why this trait matters: Five international players have won Finals MVP honors in NBA history – and all five have come in the last 30 years. After winning the Western Conference Finals MVP, could Luka follow that with his first Finals MVP?

This is similar to: Nikola Jokic (2023), Giannis Antetokounmpo (2021), Dirk Nowitzki (2011), Tony Parker (2007) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1994, 1995). The past two winners, coming in the last three Finals, are Luka’s peers, while Dirk was a veteran teammate to a rookie Luka in 2018.

3. Midseason acquisitions

Why this trait matters: All teams working the phones at the trade deadline are looking for a deal to elevate their team to championship contender. Of course, that is a rarity, but it happened in Dallas this season with the additions of Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington. The Mavs were 29-23 when they arrived and are 33-14 since.

This is similar to: The 2019 Raptors and 2004 Pistons. Toronto acquired veteran center Marc Gasol from Memphis. He averaged 9.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists in the playoffs for the Raptors, who closed the season with a 34-16 record and won their first title. Detroit acquired Rasheed Wallace from Atlanta after a one-game stint with the Hawks. Sheed averaged 13.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in the playoffs and helped the Pistons oust the Lakers in the Finals.

 4. High-scoring backcourt

Why this trait matters: Having a pair of elite scorers/playmakers in the backcourt such as Doncic and Kyrie Irving is a matchup nightmare for most teams. Boston will counter with their pair of All-Defensive guards in Jrue Holiday and Derrick White in what will be fascinating matchups to watch.

This is similar to: The 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022 Warriors. The Splash Bros. averaged at least 45 points combined in each of their four title runs in Golden State. Those numbers don’t come close to Luka and Kyrie’s league-leading regular season combined average (59.5 ppg), but is closer to their combined playoff average (51.6 ppg).

5. 3-pointers made

Why this trait matters: Between Luka’s stepbacks, Kyrie’s pull-ups and catch-and-shoots from players like P.J. Washington, Derrick Jones Jr., Maxi Kleber and Josh Green, the Mavs have a variety to their 3-point attack. That has two benefits: a wide-open court for Luka and Kyrie to penetrate and create, and no player ignored by opposing defenses

This is similar to: The 2021 Bucks and 2022 Warriors. Those are the only two teams in NBA history to have won the title while making at least 14 3-pointers per game. The Bucks averaged 14.4, the Warriors 14.3, and this year’s Mavs (14.6) or Celtics (16.5) will top those marks in this series.

6. Beating three 50+ win teams

Why this trait matters: The Mavs are battle-tested entering a Finals matchup with the Celtics and their league-high 64 wins this season. The Mavs knocked off the No. 4 Clippers (51-31) in the first round, the No. 1 Thunder (57-25) in the West semifinals and the No. 3 Wolves in the West Finals – three teams with a combined record of 164-82 (.667)

This is similar to: The 2010, 2008 and 2001 Lakers. It has been 14 years since a team took a path to the Finals that required beating three 50+ win teams. The last team to do it – the 2010 Lakers – followed up their run through the West by knocking off a 50-win Celtics team.

7. Missed playoffs to Finals

Why this trait matters: Some teams wait in line, climbing the playoff ladder rung by run over multiple seasons before they reach the Finals. Others skip the line altogether and crash the Finals stage. The 2024 Mavs are in the latter group, going from missing the postseason (playoffs and Play-In) to reaching the Finals the following season.

This is similar to: The 2022 Warriors and 2021 Suns. Golden State was the most recent team to go from missing the playoffs (after losing both Play-In games) to winning the title the following season. However, that Warriors team had a championship core (three titles in the previous seven years) but was decimated by injuries. Phoenix in 2021 made a jump similar to Dallas in 2024, not only missing the postseason (playoffs and Play-In) the previous season to reach the Finals. The Suns fell to the Bucks in six games, an outcome the Mavs hope not to repeat.

8. A full-circle moment

Why this trait matters: Mavs coach Jason Kidd was Dallas’ starting point guard in 2011, the only time they won the championship. After leading the Mavs on the court 13 years ago, he now leads from the sidelines with the same goal in mind.

This is similar to: The 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988 Lakers. Pat Riley played for the 1972 NBA champion Lakers, then led the franchise through the Showtime Era with four titles in the 1980s as head coach. Kidd is the ninth coach to reach the Finals with a team he won a championship with as a player. Seven of the previous eight also won a title as a coach with the same team.