NBA Rivalries: Dallas Mavericks VS. San Antonio Spurs

The Mavericks – Spurs rivalry has been in existence since the Dallas Chaparrals became the San Antonio Spurs. The two teams have contested playoffs and together they form the I-35 Rivalry, one of three rivalries in the state of Texas. There is plenty of history and beef between the two teams which is well worth noting for the odds when they meet again. To see the latest Dallas Mavericks odds, as well as those for the San Antonio Spurs, simply check out FanDuel. 


This is a more recent rivalry than most, having largely existed this century and gotten more closely contested during the time since. Both teams have roots in the city of Dallas with the San Antonio Spurs being known as the Dallas Chaparrals until 1973 when they moved. Seven years later, the Dallas Mavericks became the standalone team in the city. Their first game even came against the Spurs, and they won by 103-92, you could even predict that same winning margin in the latest NBA betting lines

The I-35 Rivalry

Few rivalries can be known by the interstate that they share but that’s the case here. However, the NBA rivalry between the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs is one truly Texan rivalry. Both teams are from cities that lie on Interstate 35. The other two rivalries in Texas feature both teams when they play against the Houston Rockets.  

What has stoked up the rivalry in recent years is how both teams have met each other in the play-offs. The San Antonio Spurs can claim the high ground as they have defeated the Mavericks four times to Dallas’ mere two wins. While the Mavericks have won in 2006 and 2009, the Spurs won in 2001, 2003, 2010, and 2014. The San Antonio Spurs have also won more championships with five to the Mavericks’ one, with more conference titles at six to the Mavericks’ measly two. 

In most cases, the San Antonio Spurs can claim to have won more titles, that certainly counts for division titles with a running total of 15 compared to the Mavericks’ three. However, both teams have three 60-win seasons so at least they are level on one marker.

The 2005 Drama

Since 2005, the I-35 Rivalry has taken on new meaning when Mavericks’ coach, Don Nelson, resigned. He was happy enough to hand over the coaching responsibilities to Avery Johnson, a former San Antonio Spur no less. Johnson was well-known for being the point guard for the Spurs in their triumphant 1999 NBA team, especially after shooting the game-winning shot versus the New York Knicks. 

Avery Johnson was coached under Gregg Popovich, the Spurs’ Head Coach, so he would have been familiar with most of Popovich’s methods. That should have proved problematic, especially considering how the two teams already had a rivalry. During the off-season in 2005, Michael Finley made the leap to the Spurs and was waived along by the Mavericks’ amnesty clause. 

The Aftermath From 2005

The 2006 playoffs also featured a closely-fought contest between the two teams. San Antonia triumphed at home, 87-85 in the first match but that was not the closest score between them. In the following game, the Mavericks leveled the series by winning 113-91. In the final game, the Mavericks took a 2-1 lead in the series with a stunning 104-103 win. The victory could have gone the other way with Spurs’ Manu Ginóbili allowing the ball to elusively bounce from him with a single second remaining.

Dallas extended their lead with a 123-118 win in overtime while the Spurs avoided elimination by winning Game 5. This contest was most well-known for a sly punch committed by Jason Terry on… Michael Finley. Terry was thus suspended for Game 6, with Spurs taking it home for the final game. Overtime was forced in Game 7, with the Mavericks edging it 119-111 on their way to the Conference Finals, though they lost to the Miami Heat in the NBA finals. 

The Mavericks were elevated to elite contender status, largely through the work of Avery Johnson. In 2009, the two teams had a further close contest in the playoffs where the rivalry was taken to new heights. The Mavericks did win which went someway to combat their perennial reputation as playoff chokers. The following year, the Spurs gained revenge and helped shake off their own reputation as an aging team. 

Though the rivalry has remained closely contested on the court, it has led to violence. Jerry Stackhouse of the Mavericks has also been in an altercation with Manu Ginóbili following a rebound in 2007. Manu Ginóbili then suffered a broken nose from the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki in 2010. 

There may not have been a rivalry between Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs had the latter team not decided to move. That was the start in 1980 yet various contests in the playoffs have ramped up the rivalry. Both teams can look at former players and coaches that have antagonized the match-up between the two teams as well. Though the I-35 rivalry may be the most closely contested NBA rivalry in Texas, the San Antonio Spurs probably count the Phoenix Suns as their bitterest rivals.

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