Tough Road Ahead
Early April was a good time to be a Dallas sports fan as co-American Airlines Center tenants Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars clinched post-season berths in their respective sports.
The Mavs survived a brutal Western Conference to finally snag a spot in the NBA playoffs, while the Stars just managed to grab the final wild card slot to chase Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Both teams are lower playoff seeds, which means they will have a tough road to get to a championship. Although the Stars have at a realistic shot at making some playoff noise, history says the Mavericks have as much of a chance at winning a title as they do landing LeBron James as a free agent.
History says the Mavericks have as much of a chance at winning a title as they do landing LeBron James as a free agent.
The Mavericks are no stranger to first-round upsets. They were on the wrong end of one of the biggest first round upsets in NBA history. Those kind of moments are few and far between in the NBA as the league has created a playoff format that heavily favors the better teams.
In the past 30 years, four top seeds have lost in the opening round, and only once has a team lower than the fourth seed won a title. (The 1995 Houston Rockets won the title as a six seed.)
In fact, even making it to the finals as a lower seed is rarer than a missed free throw by Dirk Nowitzki. Coincidentally, if the Mavericks happened to be in the Eastern Conference this season, they would be a three seed and would have a much greater chance to advance past the first round.
Although the NBA playoffs seem to work out exactly as planned, trying to predict the NHL playoffs is like tracking a paper airplane in a tornado — no seed is completely safe. In 2010, the seventh seeded Flyers played the eighth seeded Canadians in the Eastern Conference finals. In 2012, the eighth seeded Los Angeles Kings went all the way and won the Stanley Cup, while last season none of the two or three seeded teams made it out of the first round.
Now the NHL has decided to make things even more interesting by introducing a new playoff format (apparently the NHL’s plan to increase its putrid television ratings is to further confuse viewers). This new format matches the Stars against the Anaheim Ducks, a team Dallas won two of three against during the regular season. Most experts are picking the Ducks, but those same experts are pointing to the series as a possible upset in the making.
Not that Stars fans should start planning the route for the championship parade. In 37 seasons, only two teams seeded lower than fourth have won a title, and only nine have even made it to the Stanley Cup finals. Essentially if history is an accurate marker, the Stars have less than a 25 percent chance to make the finals.
Sadly, that’s still a better chance the Mavericks have. Enjoy your local teams in the playoffs while you can, because odds are you won’t see them there for long.