Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks suffered their share of hardship over the years, but they’ll probably admit that last year made it all worthwhile. Flying under the radar for much of the regular season, Dallas quietly notched 57 wins and slid into the playoffs as the third seed. From there, they wreaked havoc upon the Western Conference, dismantling Portland in six games, humiliating the defending champion Lakers in five and dismissing the upstart Thunder in five more. Resolved that their latest Finals appearance wouldn’t be for naught, the Mavs shocked the Miami Heat with a 4-2 series victory, highlighted by Nowitzki’s laser accuracy, Jason Terry’s penchant for clutch play and a team wide dedication to defense. Revenge was surely sweet for Dallas, but a repeat would be even sweeter.