The Similarities Between Spring’s Biggest Playoff Busts

In the end, was anyone surprised when the two highest seeded teams to lose in the first round of the NBA and NHL playoffs were the Dallas Mavericks and Washington Capitals? The Mavericks lost in 6 games to the NBA’s cockroaches, the Spurs, while the Capitals blew a 3-1 series lead to the 8th seeded Canadiens. This is far from the first time that these teams have crushed their fanbases, and both have a richly deserved reputation as chokers.

However, that’s far from the only thing these franchises have in common. While this isn’t the Lincoln/Kennedy assassination coincidences, it’s certainly intriguing. It was think about this, or lament yet again how the Capitals are choking dogs. (*pauses to bang head against wall*)

  • Both teams are located in cities whose sports landscape is dominated by highly valued football teams owned by egomaniacal owners (Cowboys and Jerry Jones, Redskins and Dan Snyder).
  • Both teams were horrible right out of the gate, with the Mavs going 15-67 in their inaugural season, and the Caps having the worst season in modern NHL history, going 8-67-5.
  • At around the same time (82-83 for the Caps, 83-84 for the Mavs), both teams started becoming regular playoff participants. Dallas made the playoffs 5 of the next 6 seasons, winning four series. Washington was more successful getting to the playoffs, 14 straight seasons overall. Despite all those appearances, the Caps only won 7 series in those 14 years.
  • Both teams have one Finals appearance, both ignominious losses. Dallas in the famous Dwyane Wade-officiating 2006 Finals, and Washington in the 1998 Cup Finals, where they were swept by the Red Wings.
  • Both teams were in terrible stretches before being bought and revitalized by owners who made their fortune via the Internet and Internet media (Mark Cuban, Ted Leonsis).
  • Both are led by superstar Europeans in a sport dominated by or least still majority North American (Nowitzki and Ovechkin, of course).
  • Both have noted tormentors in the playoffs. (Spurs for the Mavs, Penguins for the Caps)
  • Both have epically blown first round playoff series to #8 seeds after having the best regular season record by a wide margin (Dallas in 2007 to Golden State, Washington this year to Montreal).
  • Both blew those series due to an inability to adjust to a different style of play from their own from their opponents, with one player being particularly perplexing (Baron Davis, Jaroslav Halak).
  • Each team’s superstars have accepted the MVP trophy after a major playoff disappointment, further compounding the embarrassment. (Nowitzki in 2007, Ovechkin last year and possibly this year)

While admittedly some of these are flimsy, it’s odd to see so many similarities between two of the biggest disappointments in recent memory.

Now back to banging my head against the wall.

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