Can we pause a moment? It’ll be a quick one, promise. Because we need to catch our breath for a second before we fully move on from what happened last night—two climactic final games that ended with two franchises embarking on very different next steps.
I think a breather is warranted after a historic night in Dallas sports: the first time two teams in the same city played Game 7s at the same time. And because, well, do y’all realize we just watched the same playoff series across different sports?
I completely forgive you if you hadn’t. The games were impossibly late and annoyingly stacked. We got 14 games in 14 days, the overwhelming majority of which started at 8:30 or 9:00 pm. You, a normal person, would be well within your rights not to watch all of them.
I, a decidedly not normal person and Professional Sports Degenerate, required many pregame naps to make it through the watching and the subsequent writing and the even more subsequent editing (plus the early morning doings of the rest of my job). By Day Three, I was tired. By Day Five, I entered a kind of fugue state where pucks and basketballs ricocheted into every dream and idle thought. Somewhere around Day Seven, my writing began to hit a wall, and only partly because I was wearing out. A lot of stuff had just begun to overlap.
Consider the arc of both series. The Dallas squads arrived as heavy underdogs against teams with heat-related motifs. They immediately lost close-ish Game 1s that felt like harbingers of where these series were heading. But after Game 4, both series had leveled up in unexpected—and, I should note, possibly dubious—ways. These were exhilarating developments that also felt tenuous: bubblegum pop singles lacking staying power. And a pair of chalky Game 5s seemed to confirm that assumption. The Stars and the Mavericks both appeared outclassed, which was reasonable enough. On paper, they totally should have been. But that didn’t stop them from each winning Game 6 in emphatic fashion. Finally, back on the road for one last game, they left us with a pair of performances by 23-year-olds we won’t soon forget.
There were differences, of course. The Mavericks won while the Stars lost. The former are trending upward while the latter remain mired in choppy waters. My wife is a hardcore Suns fan, which made the basketball series a cacophony in my house, mostly when Luka Doncic did something absurd and she met my incredulous laughter—because how couldn’t you laugh at some of the things he pulled off?—with loud anguish. (No, she’s not OK after last night.)
The hockey series, meanwhile, was far quieter, aside from the texts from one of my best friends—somehow a diehard Stars fan despite growing up in rural Illinois—convincing himself in real time that, yes, actually, the tsunami in front of Jake Oettinger’s net would be fine once Joe Pavelski came through in overtime. (It wasn’t. Sorry, Ryan.)
But the beats of the past two weeks were so strikingly similar that, after Game 5 of the Stars series, I had to reread what I wrote the previous night about the Mavericks just to confirm I wasn’t recycling material. There’s no reason to suspect we’ll luck into another night like Sunday for a very long time, given the decades it took for this first one to appear. But there’s even less to believe that we’ll get two overlapping series with such similar footfalls. That sort of history doesn’t repeat itself. Given the divergent outcomes, I’ll let you decide whether that’s a good thing.