(SportsNetwork.com) - The storied rivalry between the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks will add a new chapter Sunday afternoon when the two teams meet for Game 7 of this Western Conference quarterfinal at AT&T Center.
For the second time in the Tim Duncan/Dirk Nowitzki era, these two perennial titans will clash in a Game 7.
In the 2006 Western Conference semifinals, Dallas prevailed in the critical final game. Since Nowitzki turned the Mavericks into a title contender, they are 4-0 in Game 7s.
Duncan's Spurs have won four titles under his stewardship and his San Antonio team is 2-2 in Game 7s.
This series finale will be in San Antonio, which owned the best record in the NBA this season.
"You play the whole season to have a Game 7 at home," Spurs guard Tony Parker said.
If the Mavs, who won Game 2 in San Antonio, prevail, it will mark the sixth time a No. 8 seed has bested a No. 1 seed. It will also be the second time the dubious distinction happened to the Spurs, who fell in round one three years ago to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Game 7 is necessary because the Mavericks defended their home court in Game 6 Friday night.
Monta Ellis led a fourth-quarter surge and finished with 27 points Friday as Dallas forced a winner-take-all Game 7 in San Antonio with a hard-fought 113-111 victory.
Ellis scored 12 of his 29 points in crunch time, but nearly wiped it all away when he threw an ill-advised pass out of bounds with 1.3 seconds remaining to give the Spurs one final look.
Patty Mills' off-balanced shot at the buzzer was well short and came after the clock struck zero.
"My teammates just told me to be aggressive," Ellis said. "My team just believed in me, and I just had to go out there and respond."
Nowitzki chimed in with 22 points and Dallas' deep supporting cast came up with big plays down the stretch, notably former Spur DeJuan Blair.
Parker netted 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Spurs, who led 81-76 entering the fourth and appeared in control before the Mavs rattled off nine straight points midway through the frame.
Ellis hit a go-ahead 3-pointer during the run and Blair, who was suspended for Game 5 after kicking Tiago Splitter in the head the previous game, capped it with a three-point play for a 97-92 Mavericks lead with 4:25 to play.
After some sensational play from Parker, the margin was one.
Dallas' Vince Carter made it a three-point game with two free throws, and Blair picked off a Parker pass intended for Duncan under the basket, forcing the Spurs to foul the rest of the way.
Dallas made 5-of-8 free throws and hung on despite Ellis' head-scratching turnover in the closing seconds.
The winner will meet the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday. If it's San Antonio, Game 1 of the conference semifinals will be in Alamo City, but if Dallas prevails in Game 7, the series opener of the second round will be in Portland.