Hornets-Mavs: Opinions and predictions from around the web

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Published: April 18, 2008

Just gonna throw out some excerpts from all the Hornets-Mavs talk I've found online today. It makes for some interesting reading.

First, the words of TNT's Charles Barkley, as reproduced in the Baton Rouge Advocate…

"The problem with New Orleans is that they are so young," Barkley said. "They've got a bright future, but they don't have playoff experience. Byron has done a great job, I thought (point guard) Chris Paul had the MVP until they faded the last couple of games, but they’ve had a magnificent season.

"I just don't think they have enough experience. I think they are going to be around for the next five or so years as legitimate contenders, and I think this was a great way for them to get their feet wet, but I think they are too young and inexperienced."

ESPN's John Hollinger thinks fatigue might be a factor for the Hornets, but still expects to see them in the Conference Finals

The Hornets-Suns second-round matchup should be a doozy, too. New Orleans might be even more exhausted after going seven against Dallas, but Phoenix doesn't match up nearly as well with the Hornets — and New Orleans has home court. Thus, I'll take the Hornets in seven again, in another series that looks to be about dead even.

That sets up Chris Paul vs. Deron Williams in the conference finals, which is a matchup we all want to see (well, unless you happen to walk around town in a gold "24" jersey). I think Paul might finally get the better of the matchup individually, but Williams has better teammates — so Utah rolls to the Finals in six.

Hollinger is one of only two writers on ESPN.com that expect the Hornets to win the series.

Marty Burns of SI.com picks the Mavs to beat the Hornets in 6

It's going to be very difficult for the newbie Hornets to overcome a Mavs team motivated to get out of the first round.

David Moore of the Dallas Morning News thinks inexperience will be the Hornets downfall

New Orleans reminds me of the neighborhood kid who learns to ride a bike.

He does great for six and a half months and blows by almost every other kid on the block. When he finally does fall, everyone nods and declares it was only a matter of time.

The delightfully-named Steve Aschburner of SI.com sings the same inexperience tune, and doesn't expect the Hornets to make much noise in the Playoffs…

As for New Orleans, its top seven players in minutes this season have a combined 154 games of NBA playoff experience. Most of it, though, resides with Peja Stojakovic (59 games) and sub Bonzi Wells (36); the Hornets' two All-Stars, Paul (zero) and David West (seven), have little or none. Not one of the seven has caught a whiff of the Finals, though coach Byron Scott played in six and coached the Nets there twice — including that 2002 team that went from lottery finish to Finals, one year to the next. 

Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports thinks Chris Paul will rise to the occasion, but foresees other factors holding back the Hornets…

Their bench is thin, particularly if Chandler finds his way into foul trouble, and their defense has been, in the words of David West, "non-existent" the past couple of weeks.

Also, regarding the Mavericks, Ludden notes…

Whether Johnson or Nowitzki, these Mavericks have always been at their best when they have something to prove, when they don't have to shoulder the burden of expectations. The problem: They've played well enough in recent weeks that it's now difficult to label them underdogs.

At yesterday's practice, Byron Scott was asked if the pressure is on Dallas not to lose in the first round for the second straight year. His response

Well, I think there's more pressure on them than us, because of the fact that they were a team that was supposed to be playing for a championship this year, especially after the trade (for Jason Kidd). To them, it's probably vital that they get out of the first round. With us, we just have to go out there, have fun and enjoy the moment. We have to match their intensity. If we do that, we have a great chance of winning.

Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Call it hide and survive and, in a difficult call, I think [Dallas] will survive in six games, but I wouldn't bet it that way, or the other. With all my respect for the Hornets, and with Chris Paul as my league MVP choice, the Mavs do have extensive playoff minutes, good and bad, to lean on, while a young stud like Paul has exactly none.

Brett Edwards of Fanhouse

The seedings don't do these teams justice, as they're extremely evenly matched in most of the major statistical categories. I expect this to be a long series, and as I stated before I'm not convinced the Hornets are for real, so I give the Mavericks' veterans the edge. Dallas in six.

The LSU Daily Reveille offers point/counterpoint articles today. Casey Gisclair makes no friends by arguing against the Hornets advancing

The wildcards are Wright and Wells. If the duo plays well and have playoff success, the Hornets can be a threat in the playoffs. But how often do you hear the words 'successful' and 'rookie' in the same sentence this time of the year? Let's remember even the great King James needed a few years to shake the playoff jitters. The icing on the cake will be the Hornets' inability to slow down the suddenly red-hot Mavericks' offense.

Meanwhile, James Rees (yes, he of Swarming the Ball) argues for the Hornets in Baton Rouge

If playoff experience wins games, then how did the Mavericks, as the No. 1 seed, lose in the first round this past season? Hadn't they competed in the NBA Finals only a season earlier? And wasn't Golden State – the team that beat them – playing in the playoffs for the first time in 13 years?

From that sampling, I think it's apparent that most folks are expecting the Mavericks to beat the Hornets. Those that do favor New Orleans, see it taking all seven games to advance. In other words, nobody thinks we can steal one in Dallas.

I'll leave you with a link to Ryan's piece refuting Playoff experience, which was originally posted here about three weeks ago. Ryan went back and collected every team in the last 15-20 years that earned 50 or more wins one year after having been out of the Playoffs. There were 14 such teams, and 10 of them advanced to at least the second round.

Favor the Mavericks all you want, but don't talk to me about Playoff experience.

Bonus linkage:

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