The past 20 years of the NBA playoffs have produced some of the most memorable series in league history.   Which ones are the greatest, though? B/R accepted that laborious task because we care about you, dear reader…

The past 20 years of the NBA playoffs have produced some of the most memorable series in league history. Which ones are the greatest, though? B/R accepted that laborious task because we care about you, dear reader…

2006 Western Conference Semifinals: Mavericks vs. Spurs
This matchup of 60-win teams sparked a change in the NBA playoff structure. San Antoniothe defending champsearned the West’s top seed. Dallas, despite holding the conference’s second-best record, was fourth because the Spurs won the division. From 2007 forward, the NBA used regular-season records for its seeding, rather than saving seeds 1, 2 and 3 for division winners.
San Antonio triumphed in Game 1 of the series, and then Dallas countered with three straight wins. The Spurs responded with two victories to force Game 7, but the Mavs won an overtime thriller and ultimately lost to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
2007 Western Conference First Round: Warriors vs. Mavericks
The next year, Dallas assembled one of the best regular seasons in NBA history with 67 wins. However, the “We Believe” Warriors pulled off a stunning upset and became the first No. 8 seed to win a best-of-seven first-round series in the playoffs.
2009 Eastern Conference First Round: Celtics vs. Bulls
Four games of this dramatic series headed to overtime, including a total of six extra sessions in Games 4, 5 and 6 combined. On entertainment value alone, this is easily one of the best series ever. But it was a first-round clash, and Boston fell to the Orlando Magic in the conference semifinals anyway.
2009 Eastern Conference Finals: Magic vs. Cavaliers
After the Magic bounced Boston, they met LeBron James with a trip to the NBA Finals at stake. Orlando’s Rashard Lewis hit a clutch three late in Game 1, and James buried his memorable buzzer-beating triple in Game 2. The Magic won the series in six games behind Dwight Howard, who averaged 25.8 points and 13 rebounds. Orlando lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
2011 NBA Finals: Mavericks vs. Heat
Before the 2010-11 season, LeBron bolted Cleveland and headed to the Heat. They cruised through the Eastern Conference portion of the playoffs, winning each series 4-1. In this rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals, Miami took a 2-1 advantage. But the Mavericks fought back, winning three straight games to give Dirk Nowitzki the first and only championship of his Hall of Fame career.

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