Game Preview: Hornets @ Mavericks

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Published: April 16, 2008

Last regular season game of the year for us, folks.  Talk about an amazing ride.  Early in the season I was hoping for health and 45-50 wins.  Instead, I was treated to at least 56 wins, an amazing Western Conference race, and a ball club that seems to have set every Franchise Record in the books.  Every game it seems like a new record has been broken, with Tyson taking the crown for most rebounds in a season by a Hornet in last night's game against the Clips.

It's also been a pretty incredible season for me.  Six months ago I decided to start a blog, two months later I got the opportunity to party with Ron here at Hornets247, and together the two of us have seen the Hornets247 community and traffic grow in leaps and bounds.  According to our most recent stats, our low traffic days are now higher than our peak days back at the start of the year.  According to several different sites like lowpost.net, we're one of the 15 most influential basketball blogs out there.

Of course, all of that is thanks to you.  Without you, I certainly wouldn't have had the drive to keep producing content, and I appreciate all the comments, post ideas, and time you've taken out of your day to contribute to the site.  Thank you very, very much, and we intend to keep slamming out good stuff as the Hornets make their playoff run.

On to the game.

Tonight is a weird game.  We've locked in our position in the playoff seeding at number 2, and cannot be dislodged from that position.  However, the Nuggets face the Grizzlies tonight, and if they win, and we beat Dallas, we play the Nuggets in the first round.  If the Nuggets lose OR we lose, we face Dallas in the first round.

Personally, I want to beat the Mavs tonight.  Not because I want to avoid playing them, or think the Nuggets will be easier to beat.  I just want more momentum heading into the playoffs.  Neither the Nuggets nor the Mavericks are playing particularly good ball right now, and I think we can handle either in a seven game series.

Game Preview
Matchup: Hornets (56-25) @ Mavericks (50-31)
Off Efficiency: Hornets 109.0(5th), Mavericks 108.5(7th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 102.6(5th), Mavericks 103.1(8th)
Mavvy Blog: Mavs Moneyball

The Hornets come in having won seven of their last ten, while the Mavericks have played .500 ball over their last ten, including suffering two close losses to Portland and Seattle in their last two games.

Our last matchup against the Mavs resulted in a win for the Hornets, but that was Jason Kidd's first game for Dallas and he was clearly not in sync with the rest of the team.  He should be better integrated for this game – though I'm not sure that matters.  The Mavs haven't played that well since getting Jason Kidd.

Injuries: Stackhouse and Nowitzki are playing through injuries, but will be playing.  The evil Foot Clan gave Bonzitello food poisoning last night and he spent all game tossing his dinner instead of the basketball.  No word if he feels better today.

Positional Analysis
PG: Jason Kidd v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Jason Kidd is a horrible matchup against Paul.  In both games against Kidd as a Net and the one game against him as a Mav, Paul has shown Kidd just can't match his jets on the defensive end and can't stop Paul from getting where he wants to go.  Considering defense is pretty much the best part of Jason Kidd's game anymore, that's not good for the Mavs.  Kidd also plays into Chris's hands because his shot has completely deserted him this year.  Paul has trouble fighting through high screens defensively.  Since Kidd is a worse shot than Dick Cheney, Paul can just go under the screen and let Kidd fire away.

SG: Jason Terry v. Morris Peterson
Advantage: Mavericks
Terry is a good mid and long range shooter, and if gets an open baseline shot, he'll make you pay.  His handle isn't bad, but he rarely uses it, being allergic to drives to the basket.  His defense is so-so.  Morris was a man posessed last night against the Clips, and if he plays tonight like he did last night, this position probably swings to the Hornets.  However, Morris rarely puts together two good games, so I'm not counting on that.

SF: Josh Howard v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Mavericks
Josh's defense is better all-around than Peja's is, and he's a pretty skilled mid-range guy.  He'd be even better if he drove to the hoop more, since he's got all the tools, but has started relying on his ranged shot more than he should.  Other than a stretch against the Lakers, Peja's shooting has been off the past five games or so.  Of course, that doesn't really read 'slump' to me.  It just means Peja is due.

PF: Dirk Nowitzki v David "17-foot Fluffy" West
Advantage: Even
Normally, I wouldn't call this even, but David West has been playing very well over his past few games, and he is usually only put off his game by long, strong, and athletic defenders.  Dirk has some of those qualities, but I doubt he'll be able to contain West.  West probably won't contain Dirk either, being reluctant as always to close to the perimeter, where Dirk can just hammer you.  I have a feeling both of these guys are going to be killing out there.

C: Erick Dampier v Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hornets
Dampier is a very, very good offensive rebounder and an underrated defender, though his offensive liabilities and tendency to clog the paint so Dirk can't operate as well does limit his minutes.  Tyson will probably lose rebounding positioning against the massive Dampier a bunch of times this game, but will still do good work on the glass by being faster and more athletic.  Also – expect at least two TCP Alley-oops.  I was about to call it a TCP-oop – but realized that looks really bad.

Bench
Advantage: Hornets
The Mavericks bench is really thin since the Kidd trade.  Stackhouse is frequently hurt and even when healthy has lost his shooting touch this season. Jose Juan Barea should be a third string point guard, and Ryan Bowen could give Trenton Hassell, Antoine Wright, Devean George and Eddie Jones a run for their money as threats on the offensive end.  Only Brandon Bass contributes much, but I'm going to make some of you LSU fans unhappy by pointing out that despite his decent scoring numbers, he's really not that effective otherwise.  He's a well-below average rebounder and defender for his position, and since he has to play center a lot for this team, that's a big problem for the Mavs.

The Hornets have their usual inconsistent bench, but I'd take Wright, Wells, and Pargo plus fringe contributions from Armstrong against the Mavs bench any day.

Enjoy the game, all of you.

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