Welcome back, and happy 2022 to you all! The first sports week of the new year has no shortage of drama, from the Stars’ return to the ice to the Cowboys’ final regular-season game to a very special night in the American Airlines Center. Here’s what I’m watching.
Wednesday 1/5: Dirk Nowitzki’s Jersey Retirement (and Warriors versus Mavericks)—9:00 p.m., Bally Sports Southwest
Yes, there is a Mavs game tomorrow night. It starts at 6:30, and it features Luka Doncic versus Steph Curry. Ordinarily, that’s the sell. But, well, if you read StrongSide, chances are you’re the sort of person who already knew that the greatest athlete in this city’s history will have his jersey raised to the rafters afterward. Dallas could lose by 40 and it won’t matter one iota compared to the postgame ceremony. We’ll have plenty of coverage, beginning with a tribute from Dirk’s longtime friend Brian Dameris tomorrow morning.
Thursday 1/6: Stars versus Panthers—6:00 p.m., Bally Sports Southwest Plus
Ten Stars players exited COVID-19 protocols yesterday, which means Dallas’ long hiatus should end Thursday in what will be their first game in 17 days. (Good note from the Morning News’ Matt DeFranks: “The break is the fifth disruption of at least 17 days in franchise history, and all of the other four were because of the Winter Olympics.)” They’d probably prefer an opponent other than Florida, who comes in with the fifth-most points in the NHL. A win would inspire some renewed confidence about the streakiest team in town.
Saturday 1/8: The Cowboys rushing offense against the Eagles run defense—7:15 p.m., ABC
This is less about playoff positioning—Dallas is probably locked into the No. 4 seed, although you can glimpse the full range of scenarios here—than tuning up for the postseason, and you can read Dan Morse for an explanation of just how important a bounce-back effort on the ground is on that front. Dak Prescott’s passing game is still this team’s meal ticket, but a punchless rushing attack plus a passing game searching to find its way would doom this team’s playoff hopes before they begin.