Mavs-Spurs defies predictions with classic

DALLAS -- Everyone seemed to pencil in the Dallas Mavericks-San Antonio Spurs series as a predictable snooze-fest.

Instead, we've seen some incredibly beautiful basketball as two of the NBA's best offenses go toe to toe. The latest chapter of the wild West shootout saw a dramatic buzzer-beating 3-point basket Saturday by Vince Carter, just 1.7 seconds after the Spurs scored a go-ahead bucket.

"In my mind, I was ready for it," Carter said of the winner. "I already had made the shot before the play happened if I got the ball. I'm just glad it worked out."

The emotions were running high as both teams delivered potential back-breaking shots in the closing seconds, with the Mavericks hitting the mark.

"Unbelievable," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said after the 109-108 Dallas victory. "Just unbelievable. The basketball gods were smiling on us tonight. It’s one game. Just one game, but it was a fun one."

It was just one game, but it might be good enough to leave the smile on Cuban's face until Monday, when Game 4 comes around.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Game 3 featured two go-ahead shots in the final two seconds of the game. It was only the third game in the 15 most recent postseasons in which there were two go-ahead shots in the final two seconds. Dallas and/or San Antonio have been involved in four of those matchups.

Here's a quick recap of games with multiple go-ahead field goals in the final five seconds over the past 15 postseasons:

May 13, 2004: Lakers def. Spurs 74-73

May 24, 2006: Suns def. Mavericks 121-118

May 22, 2009: Cavaliers def. Magic 96-95

May 6, 2013: Spurs def. Warriors 129-127 (2OT)

Saturday: Mavericks def. Spurs 109-108

The instant classic saw an incredible 18 ties and 18 lead changes, highlighted by the dueling daggers from Manu Ginobili and Carter.

Fans certainly got their money's worth in Game 3 in the final 1.7 seconds.

“Unbelievable game to be a part of,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “Really going back and forth all game long. They made a run, we made a run, and then down the stretch it was anybody’s ballgame. Great plays on both sides by great players, and we were obviously a little fortunate at the end.”

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is getting a ton of mileage out of a play he set up during the team's shootaround ahead of a Dec. 7 game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Dallas used the play that very night as Monta Ellis drilled the game-winning jumper. It was used once again in the overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors on April 1, but Ellis was unable to catch the inbounds pass. Once again, Ellis took the shot, and missed, in the team's final game of the regular season against Memphis.

Wrinkles in the play design have come along the way, creating a variety of fallback options. Carter ended up being the third, behind Ellis and a cutting Nowitzki. Carter got the ball, and the rest is history.

"The crowd went absolutely nuts," Nowitzki said. "That was as loud as I’ve ever heard this building."