Stars or Mavs? Which Lower Seed Has a Chance?
The Stars and Mavs each punched their ticket to the playoffs over the weekend. The post-season starts for both later this week. Now the real question is – who will last longer?
Both teams are lower seeds in the playoffs. In these days of spots parity, the key may be just getting in the playoffs and see what happens. It was just two years ago that the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup as the No. 8 seed in the West.
The Stars have that same No. 8 seed and face the Anaheim Ducks. Dallas went 2-1-0 vs. the Ducks this season, winning the lone game at American Airlines Center and splitting the pair in Anaheim. Kari Lehtonen did not play vs. the Ducks this season, mainly sue to timing on injuries. The key stat – Anaheim scored at a 30 percent clip on the power play vs. Dallas this season, something that simply cannot happen in this series if the Stars want to have any chance.
Each team features top lines that rank in the top-five in the entire league in goal production. But which one will have a bigger offensive impact? Dallas’ No. one line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin combined to score 85 goals during the regular season while Anaheim’s Matt Beleskey, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry scored 83.
This series (as is all in the Stanley Cup Playoffs) will be decided by goaltending and special teams. The Ducks are tops in the league at goals-per-game at 3.21. Lehtonen needs to be on top of his game. Both power plays and penalty kills are very close on paper.
I give the Stars about a 25 percent chance of pulling the upset. Crazier things have happened. But this is all icing on the cake for Dallas; they are on the right track and this experience for the players (and the fans) will do wonders for them as they continue to build.
The Mavs are a tougher read, mainly because we won’t know who they are matched up with until after Wednesday evening’s game at Memphis. It will be Oklahoma City or San Antonio, and one is clearly a better draw for Dallas than the other.
The Spurs are a juggernaut against any team, but especially against the Mavericks. San Antonio has won nine in a row vs. Dallas and 13 of the last 15.
At least Rick Carlisle knows the art of spinning a message. After Thursday’s loss to the Spurs and the potential to play them again in the first round he said, “I will say the law of averages (in a potential first-round series against San Antonio) is in our favor.”
Ah, a man after my own heart – he too, believes in the due theory.
Clearly, the Mavericks’ best shot to win their first round series is against the Thunder. Dallas won two of the three meetings, including each of the last two in the last month or so. Kevin Durant fills it up against anyone he plays against, so it really comes down to defending Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder. Dallas has done a good job vs. Durant’s teammates.
It’s harder to pull the upset in the NBA than it is in the NHL, simply because the nature of basketball makes it unlikely for the better team to lose a seven-game series.
I’ll give the Mavs a 15% chance to win a match-up with the Thunder. Facing the Spurs? I’ll be nice and give Dallas a 10% chance.
The key game for the underdog, in any playoff series, is Game One. Win it, and there is one simple fact – the other team MUST win four of the next six games in the series to advance.
Game One for the Stars and Ducks is Wednesday night while the Mavs will get going over the weekend. Enjoy the post-season. Hopefully neither of these series will resemble Little Big Horn and be more like David vs. Goliath.