Hornets-Mavericks: Saturday news wrap

As you might expect, there's plenty of chatter regarding the Hornets and Mavericks around d'internet again this morning. Almost all of these articles get linked up in our news section. Some highlights…

SLAM's Aggrey Sam, who actually lives in New Orleans these days, gives us a thorough series preview over at SLAMonline.com. His conclusion…

  • Hornets in seven. This just seems like New Orleans' year and while Kidd, Dirk and the rest of the Mavs won't go down without a fight, I think the combination of CP at the point, West and Chandler in the post, tough D and contributions from guys like Bonzi, Mo Pete, Peja and Pargo will be too much. Dirk isn't all the way healthy, Kidd isn't all the way adjusted and I don't think guys like Stack, Terry and Howard are utilized enough unless Dirk is just doing awful. At the end of the day, however, it won't really matter, as either San Antonio or Phoenix should take down the winner of this series in the second round.

A massive preview from ESPN.com, where David Thorpe and Mike Moreau dive into positional analysis. They both pick the Mavs to win the series in six games. Combined reasoning…

  • Thorpe: Teams that have suffered real heartache in the postseason either fold or strengthen. Dallas responded to its Finals loss with a 67-win season, then died in Oakland. Now the Mavs are back, and I sense that they are stronger.

    Moreau: The Mavericks have more veterans, more experience, more weapons and have endured more pain.

Mavs assistant coach Mario Elie is counting on that wonderful thing called experience to see Dallas through…

  • "The good thing with our squad is we have playoff experience," he said. "I understand New Orleans is a very good team. They say experience doesn't count, but it does. It really, really does. We've all been through the wars. It's going to be interesting how Chris Paul and David West, who haven't been in this environment, respond."

Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News notes the following in an article entitled Pressure is on Kidd to deliver in playoffs for Dallas Mavericks

  • In Kidd's defense, there should be no debate about his ability to handle this situation. As recently as last season, he averaged a triple-double — 14.6 points, 10.9 assists, 10.9 rebounds — in 12 playoff games.

In his latest blog entry over at NBA.com, Tyson Chandler talks about dolls (no, really) and while he enjoyed the recent pep rall, he wants no more celebrating until June. He also doesn't think New Orleans loss to Dallas in the regular season finale was a sign of things to come…

  • On Wednesday, we had already locked up the second spot. We were already the division champs. And the game meant a lot more to them than it meant to us. We knew we weren't gonna get to the No. 1 spot and we weren't necessarily worried about who we played. It was either they win and we play them or we win and we play Denver. It really didn't matter to us. So, I wouldn't say that we didn't give them our best game, but I don't think we were as focused as they were.

Jeff Caplan of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram thinks the pressure on Jason Kidd to produce, whether he chooses to acknowledge it or not. Also from that article, words on Dirk Nowitzki's health…

  • Nowitzki's ankle is not 100 percent, and it won't be in this series — or the next. Still, he's managed to continue the evolution of his inside game, using a variety of spin moves in the paint and especially along the baseline to gallop around defenders and score.

Caplan also reports today that Avery Johnson has a problem with the Mavericks being favored to win the series…

  • "It's a total disrespect for New Orleans; that's what it is," Johnson said. "And a lot of people nationally, they don't know what they're talking about. Nobody has a crystal ball on who's going to win, who's going to lose. All we know is we're a seventh seed and they've had a terrific season.

    "First of all, I don't know why anybody would pick us anyway. They never pick us."

Byron Scott tells Teddy Kider of the Times-Picayune that David West will be given the first shot at guarding Nowitzki, but he'll get plenty of help from Chandler…

  • "He's done a fairly good job against [Nowitzki] in the few games that we played with him on him," Scott said of West. "We always thought that Tyson was probably better suited to guard him, but what it does, it takes away Tyson from the basket, and it takes away our help defense sometimes when he's on the perimeter.

    "David likes the challenge guarding an MVP-type player like Dirk, and he knows how tough it is, but he knows also that we're going to do different things on the defensive end. He's not going to always be on him by himself. As a matter of fact, he never is."

Also from that article, Byron Scott's words after yesterday's practice at the Alario Center…

  • "This is the best practice we've probably had in about a month. Guys were really focused. The intensity level in the scrimmage was good. I thought our white team did a great job of trying to emulate some of the things that Dallas does. So hopefully, that's a good sign."

Even Ryan Bowen is making headlines ahead of this series. From the Iowa Hawk Eye

  • "I'm going to do what I can to help this team win," said Bowen, who said he was going to be playing the role of Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki during Friday's practice. "If that means I'm playing on the scout team in practice, I'll do it. I know at any moment, I could get a lot of minutes. Whatever it takes."

Les East of the Baton Rouge Advocate tells us how evenly matched these two teams are ahead of Game 1. Also in that article, Coach Scott talks about the importance of rebounding…

  • "We've got to do a much better job of keeping guys off the glass, especially (Bass), because he's really the only one on their team that goes to the glass like that," Scott said.

    "Defensive rebounding in this series is going to be a big key."

Also form Les East, a massive article linking Pistol Pete Maravich to Chris Paul, and about how CP has revived basketball in New Orleans…

  • "I remember when Pete was playing his best and the team was on a roll," said Bob Remy, who has been the official scorer for every Jazz and Hornets game in New Orleans. "You could sense the anticipation and hear the crowd cheering as it got close to tip-off.

    "It's been like that here recently. I was really surprised by the Golden State game (on April 6). Being played at noon on a Sunday, I didn't know how much the crowd would be into it, but they surprised me. Right from the get-go, they were ready."

Should be interesting to hear the wide-ranging reactions to this one: Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reports on Josh Howard admitting to smoking marijuana

  • "What can I say? If you can do it and it's not affecting your everyday life, why stop? If I'm able to do it, but not while I play basketball, it lets you know I can quit whenever."

And finally, Mavs Moneyball has posted per-48 minute stats of key Mavericks all-time against the Hornets. Nowitzki, Howard and Bass seem to fare better against the rest of the NBA, but everyone else goes off against us.

Back later with a Game Day post. Game 1 of Cavaliers-Wizards has tipped! The Playoffs have begun.

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