The stage was set for a big week in Dallas sports. The results? Well, we’re not gonna talk about the SMU game (although you should make time for Laken Litman’s feature on the inflection point with the school’s marriage with Sonny Dykes). The pro teams weren’t much better, although they do give us plenty to keep an eye on this holiday week.
Here’s what I’m watching.
Tuesday, 11/23: Stars versus Oilers—7:30 p.m., ESPN+
I’m watching this for two reasons. One, the Stars need to ratchet down some of the pressure on Rick Bowness’ job, which reached record levels after a 7-2 shellacking at Minnesota and the accompanying firestorm from abruptly scratching Riley Tufte in the rookie’s first game in his hometown after Tufte, per his agent, spent his entire salary upon being called up to buy tickets for family and friends. Big yikes. Winning cures plenty, however, and Saturday’s 4-1 rout of St. Louis was a start toward mollifying a fed-up fanbase. A second consecutive victory wouldn’t hurt Bowness’ approval rating, either.
But the bigger reason is Oilers center Connor McDavid, the most exciting man in hockey. Any time he takes the ice, you’re liable to see something like this:
Lol this dude is not human https://t.co/6bAe0PzdA8
— Mike Piellucci (@mikelikessports) November 19, 2021
That’s appointment viewing.
Tuesday, 11/23: Mavericks at Clippers—9:30 p.m., Bally Sports Southwest
How about a Tuesday night doubleheader? Last week was supposed to kick off the Mavericks’ prove-it stretch after Dallas stacked wins against mostly sub-.500 teams to begin the season. Then Luka Doncic sprained his ankle and knee in the waning moments of last Monday’s win at Denver and hasn’t played since. So, in what has become the theme of this young season, we didn’t learn much about the Mavericks, after all, aside from some renewed confidence in Kristaps Porzingis’ overall play.
Maybe this week is better? Jason Kidd noted last week the team was hopeful Doncic could play in the two-game road set at Los Angeles, and Luka was listed as questionable heading into yesterday’s loss. If he can play Tuesday, this becomes Dallas’ must-watch game of the week. A win over Los Angeles would make Dallas 2-3 in their last five, but bookending three hard-fought losses to Phoenix and Los Angeles without Doncic with a pair of wins would be solid work, considering the circumstances.
Thursday, 11/25: Michael Gallup versus the Las Vegas Raiders’ secondary—3:30 p.m., CBS
Barring a shocking turn of events, neither Amari Cooper (positive COVID-19 test) nor CeeDee Lamb (concussion) will be available on Thanksgiving. But Dak Prescott has to throw to someone, and that someone figures to be Gallup. The 25-year-old has a 1,000-yard season under his belt back in 2019, so he’s proven capable of serving as a focal point in Dallas’ offense rather than the dramatically overqualified third receiver he’s mostly been since Lamb was drafted in 2020. Thursday would be a convenient time to remind everyone of as much, both for Dallas’ chances at rebounding from their worst offensive performance of the season as well as his bank account. Gallup’s rookie deal expires at the end of the year, and it’s highly unlikely Dallas can afford to keep him. The early-season calf injury that held him out seven games may have cost him some money on the open market. A big game Thursday would be a great start to earning it back.