Introduction – and Game Preview!

Hello all!  In case you haven't noticed who posted this, 'tis I, Ryan Schwan, frequent commentator and owner of that The New Orleans Hornets Fan blog.  Ron and I have been linking back and forth for several months now, and frankly, I think Ron got tired of it.  So he invited me to join him here at Hornets247 and I accepted, causing the Hornets Blogoverse to collapse in a buzzing paroxysm of Hornets-related joy.  Or something.

Anyways, The New Orleans Hornets Fan blog will be shutting down, and I'll instead be commenting here on a regular basis – hopefully allowing Ron more time to get settled into New Orleans, meet new drinking buddies and spend some quality time passed out in various Sports Bars.

For my first trick: a Game Preview!

Opponent: Dallas Mavericks(14-9)
Relevant Opposing Blogger: Showboating
The Hornets hit Dallas tonight, where the Mavericks are only a half game behind them in the Western Conference standings.  Both teams are coming off of losses, though at least the Hornets were competitive against Denver.  The Mavs were blown out in Toronto, unable to hit a shot.

Unlike the last two years when the Mavs have been regular-season monsters, they've been a little more vulnerable this season, and it's mostly due to their poor defense.  Though they still boast an impressive offensive attack(4th most efficient in the league), their defense has fallen all the way to 19th. The Hornets, on the other hand, are the anti-Mavericks.  Their defense is the 4th most efficient, while their offense ranks 13th.  Those numbers look favorable, but it's early and don't mean much yet.

The last game between these two teams was a hard fought, knock-down, drag-out brawl filled with big shots. The Hornets came out on top in that one, and I'm sure the Mavs are looking for revenge.  Due to the two teams distinct styles, we should be able to tell by halftime which team came in ready to impose their will on the game.  If the combined score is 100+ by then, then the Mavs are probably controlling it.  If it's below that, then the Hornets are doing what they are best at.

On the Hornet's injury front, we have both good and bad news today.  Kenyon Martin broke Melvin Ely's eyesocket during the Denver game and definitely won't be playing.  I'm tempted to leave it at that and say that's both the good and bad news since Ely is so up and down, but then I couldn't tell you the real good news:  Stojakovic and Peterson are both expected to play tonight.  Stojakovic even went so far as to tell the reporters he was a little sore, but still definitely playing.

For the Mavericks side of things, Devin Harris is day-to-day and Eddie Jones is out.  If speedster Harris does sit out, I certainly won't complain.

Positional Analysis
Jason Terry vs. Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
There aren't many guards that Chris Paul won't have an advantage over, and Terry is no exception.  The Mavs PG is a remarkable shooter and solid ballhandler, but he's not very good at getting into the lane, and his defense is mediocre.  He'll score, but Paul will score – and do everything else too.

SG: Trenton Hassell vs. Morris Peterson
Advantage: Hornets
Really, the Mavs swingmen could play either position, but I'll list Hassell as the starting SG since he'll be replaced by Stackhouse, who is a SG. If Morris's back is limiting him – well the Hornets still have an advantage.  Trenton is a hard-nosed defender, but he's slow and is no threat offensively at all.  That will allow Morris to help Peja against Josh Howard, and Morris is bound to be left open for shots while Hassell struggles to reach him.

SF: Josh Howard vs. Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Mavericks
Josh Howard is the Mavericks leading scorer, and when he's focused, he's hard to stop.  He's got range, and can slash to the hoop when he needs to.  Here's hoping he'll play like the last game against the Mavericks, where he basically took jumpshots all game and didn't press the issue.  Peja will be playing with a strained groin.  Hopefully it won't stop him from shooting, though,  We need him stretching the defense, and the Mavs defense should give him opportunities.

PF: Dirk Nowitzki vs. David West
Advantage: Mavericks
Much has been made early in the season about Nowitzki being ineffective.  I'm sorry, the guy is shooting 47% from the field while scoring 21 points a game.  His assists are up to almost 4 a game.  Even though his 3-point shot has deserted him(30%), he's still someone the Hornets will have to focus on.  West had a good game against the Nuggets, and should keep it up against the weak Mavs defense.  But he's still not as good an all-around player as Nowitzki.

C: DeErick Dampiop vs. Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hornets
Erick Dampier and DeSagana Diop hold down the starting center position for the Mavericks, providing a fairly effective combination.  Both are strong rebounders and good defenders with no offensive game at all.  Tyson is better than either of them.

The Mavericks sport an excellent bench, and let's compare their backups to the Hornets now that Ely is out.

PG: Jannero Pargo vs. Jose Juan Barea – both guards are gifted with extreme quickness.  But Barea hits his shots, shooting 52% from the field and 44% from deep.  Pargo? 35% and 31% anyone?
SG: Bobby Jackson vs. Jerry Stackhouse – They are both shooting terribly. I'd probably call them about even.  Bobby's got the quickness, Stack the strength.
SF: Rasual Butler vs. Devean George – Deven George is just coming back from injury.  Butler has the edge until George gets into rhythm.  After that, they are about even.
PF: Julian Wright vs. Brandon Bass – with Bowen and Ely injured, Wright will have to play here.  He's a bundle of energy and played well, but he's too skinny to play PF right now.  For the Mavs, Bass is strong like bull.  Bass smash.
C: Hilton Armstrong vs. DeSagananana Diop –  I feel proud for Hilton when he manages to keep ahold of a rebound or pass and doesn't immediately travel or commit an offensive foul.  DeSagana would start for half the teams in the league.  Yeah, Diop is better.

I have a feeling the Mavs might want to erase their bad loss in Toronto and avenge their earlier loss to the Hornets and come out firing.  Or, they could continue a pattern of being mentally weak and suck.  I'm going to be mentally weak and refuse to make a prediction.

Go Hornets!

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