Dallas has two chances to win

By David Mullen

Los Angeles doesn’t have what Dallas does. Neither does Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix or the San Francisco Bay Area. The Stars and Mavericks have advanced in their respective playoff runs, giving Dallas two teams with a chance to do what the Texas Rangers did in November; win a championship.

The Mavs played excellent team defense, earning head coach Jason Kidd a well-deserved contract extension.
Photo courtesy of the Dallas Mavericks

Only New York, Boston and Denver have the same opportunity to win both professional basketball and hockey crowns in 2024. Since 2020, Tampa Bay, with the Super Bowl winning Buccaneers and Stanley Cup Champion Lightning, and Los Angeles, with the NBA Champion Lakers and the World Series winning Dodgers, brought home two championships in one year. And, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Dodgers won their World Series title in Arlington.

This playoff run is particularly sweet for the Dallas faithful. While Tarrant County residents can root for the Dallas teams all they want, these championship series are being played at 2500 Victory Ave. It’s about time. A cultural transformation occurs when entering the 817 after an always thrilling ride down Interstate 30.

No city or metropolitan area has won three championships in an eight-month period. DFW could accomplish the improbable. Everyone loves a parade, but two parades just weeks apart may be too much for local sports fans.

But before planning a parade, both teams have a lot of work ahead. The Dallas Stars may have the best chance of success. They dispatched the defending Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights in a gut wrenching seven game series. With talk of the Stars potential fatigue against the Colorado Avalanche less than 48 hours after their Game 7 victory over Vegas, the Stars opened up with a 3-0 lead only to visibly tire, yielding four unanswered goals and losing Game 1 4-3 in OT on May 7. 

A case can be made that the Stars match up better against the Avs than they did against the Knights, a more physical team. The Mile High City team is high scoring — Colorado was the only Western Conference team to score more than 300 goals this season — but can get sloppy, which leads to mistakes and penalties. The Stars are deep and reliable scorers like Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski have yet to get on track. Stars defensemen and goalie Jake Oettinger will be called upon to thwart the Avalanche pressure.  

As a programming note to Stars fans as the broadcast go national, if the game is on ESPN, listen to the local broadcast of the games on The Ticket with Josh Bogorad and Daryl “Razor” Reaugh. You won’t be subjected to the college radio level broadcasting team of 30-year-old Mike Monaco and former Olympian AJ Mleczko. Monaco is as green as the Stars home jerseys and Mleczko, whose analysis included, “The Stars are a good team,” sounds like my little sister at her first hockey game. Thankfully, games 2 and 3 move to TNT. 

As predicted here, the Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Clippers in six games in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Mavs played excellent team defense, earning head coach Jason Kidd a well-deserved contract extension. Despite a key injury to Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers had enough star power to win, but fell into their bad habit of becoming selfish and unruly. Guard Russell Westbrook won over no one at American Airlines Center.  

It’s hard to call the Mavericks a veteran team, but Luka Doncic (pictured above) and Kyrie Irving have playoff experience. Their leadership will be needed to overcome the No. 1-seed Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. 

The Thunder is the NBA’s second youngest team. They are fearless, play team basketball and have home court advantage. All-world guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is 25 and center Chet Holmgren turned 22 on May 1. OKC’s youthful energy prevailed in Game 1 as they dominated the Mavs 117-95 on May 7.

The Mavs lost reliable forward Maxi Kleber for the playoffs due to a shoulder injury. On paper, it may not seem like much. But he plays hard, has the size to help inside and the outside shooting ability to keep the Thunder defense honest. The Mavs will miss his presence.  

The top 3 seeded teams in the West all advanced to the second round. Only the No. 5 seed Mavericks win can be called an upset. The West was tight all year, with just a few games separating the teams in the standings. But the energetic Thunder and their title-starved fans in OKC may be too much for Dallas to handle. I think the Mavs lose in five games. The depth and discipline of the Stars will be too much for Colorado to handle. I think the Stars will win a six-game series that will feature plenty of scoring. Like the great visionary Mleczko said, “The Stars are a good team.”

The City of Dallas should enjoy fame and notoriety while it lasts. Winning is good for boosting civic pride. Unfortunately, it appears that two championships are too much to ask for.