For the first time since 2008, Dallas is a basketball -- and hockey -- playoff town.
The Dallas Stars started their first postseason run in six years Wednesday night against the top-seeded Anaheim Ducks in California. (The Ducks defeated the Stars in the first game, 4-3. Game 2 is 9 p.m. Friday in California.)
Their basketball brethren, the Dallas Mavericks, are harboring some long-shot dreams, too: They start the NBA playoffs this weekend, their first postseason appearance since 2012.
Before Wednesday’s hockey game, we talked with Mac Engel, a sports columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He says this is a big deal, especially in a place where hockey isn’t a natural winter pastime.
“In the sunbelt states, a franchise needs playoff runs to build a fan base,” Engel told KERA. “And when the Stars had those playoff runs, that’s where you build a fan base, that’s where you drive interest and the Stars hadn’t been since 2008 so really hockey had become quite dormant.”
Although the Stars are seeded eighth in the NHL’s Western Conference, Engel won’t rule them out.
“It’s not crazy when the eighth seed wins,” Engel said. “The Stars beat the Anaheim Ducks two out of three times this season. And even though the Stars barely got in they got in with three days remaining left in the regular season, they’ve been playing better and they’re younger.”
The Stars and Ducks will play twice in Anaheim, and then bring their best-of-7 series to Dallas for games Monday and Wednesday. The Stars have long-shot dreams of their second Stanley Cup – their first came in 1999. Sports Illustrated offers this wrap-up of Wednesday’s game.
Moving on to basketball
The Mavericks will be playing the San Antonio Spurs. Game 1 against the Spurs is Sunday in San Antonio. Engel takes a look back at Mavericks and Spurs playoff history on his blog.
Engel wrote: “The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night to lock up the precious eight-seed, but, nonetheless, will return to the playoffs after a one-year postseason ‘sabbatical’ to play the Eviction Notice - the San Antonio Spurs. This will be the fifth time the Mavericks will play Los Spurs in the playoffs de el NBA, all since 2001.”