Dallas power forward Dirk Nowitzki is 4-0 all-time in Game Sevens, while San Antonio’s Tim Duncan is 2-2 in the deciding game.
Nowtizki and the Mavericks hope to become the second No. 8 seed in NBA history to dethrone a No.1 in a seven-game series Sunday afternoon, while the Spurs wish to avoid their second straight Game Seven loss since last year’s NBA Finals.
The Spurs of course also hope to avoid such a meltdown after garnering the NBA’s best regular season record at 62-20, and certainly remember their Game Seven against Dallas in 2006 which propelled the Mavs to their first NBA Finals appearance.
Sunday's winner moves on to face the upstart Portland Trailblazers in the West semifinals.
Dallas has also been in San Antonio’s shoes before, losing in seven games to Golden State in 2007 as the top seed in the West.
That 2006 game will certainly go down as an all-time great battle between Nowitzki and Duncan. Nowitzki poured in 37 points with 15 rebounds, while Duncan filled the stat sheet with 41 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in a losing effort.
Of course Nowitzki is back in the pivotal situation with an entirely different cast, while Duncan still headlines San Antonio’s core along with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
The home AT&T Center crowd will surely be the 12th man for the Spurs, but they won’t be able to stymie Dallas guard Monta Ellis.
Ellis has scored 29 points in each of the last two games, carrying more of the offensive load with Nowitzki still a top player but not like he was eight years ago.
The Mavs have also enjoyed stellar play from their bench, with veteran Vince Carter scoring 13 points in Game Six’s 113-111 victory to force the final game. And forward DeJuan Blair returned from suspension for 10 points, 14 rebounds and four steals against his former Spurs teammates.
Other than its bench, Dallas was especially successful in taking the ball out of leading San Antonio scorer Ginobili’s hands in Game Six.
Ginobili has led the Spurs in scoring throughout the series at 17.3 per game, but he was held to 10 points on eight shot attempts in Game Six forcing Tony Parker to carry the offense the rest of the way for 22 points and six assists. Duncan saw his two-game streak of double-doubles snapped, but still posted 16 points and nine rebounds, with four assists and two blocks.
Start Time: 3:30 p.m. EST
TV Channel: ABC
Betting Odds: San Antonio -6.5
Over/Under: 198 points
Prediction: San Antonio over Dallas 103-99