Hornets-Mavericks: Trading questions as we get set for Game 1

Nothing like some insight from an opposing blogger to find out more about the Dallas Mavericks. Matt Benson from MavsCentral.com traded questions with us ahead of Game 1…

Hornets247: Many people label the Mavs as "Playoff chokers" after their disappointing postseason exits the past two years. What's your take on this?

MavsCentral.com: Are the Mavs "chokers"? No. Have they had disappointing ends to their last two postseasons? Yes.

People like to label the Mavs, especially Dirk, chokers yet they gloss over things like winning Game 7 in San Antonio against the defending champs or Dirk putting 50 against Phoenix. I also think just about any team would have loss to Golden State in that first round. The Mavs ran into a buzzsaw that was Baron Davis and his beard.

With that said, I will admit Dallas has had some sketchy moments in the past two postseasons (against Golden State and the collapse against Miami) that makes you wonder at times.

Hornets247: What happens if the Mavs lose this series? Does this team have much time left to compete with an aging Jason Kidd at the point? Will Cuban look to shake things up?

MavsCentral.com: I don't see any drastic changes. The team, with Kidd included, has only had two months to gel together while a team like San Antonio has been playing together for eleventy billion years. Cuban has valued teams who play together and get to know each other over making tons of changes (he learned that the hard way in his early years where he seemed to make a big trade every offseason, but he has cooled in recent years). But if there are any drastic changes, it probably would start with Avery Johnson.

Hornets247: Which Hornets player or player match-up scares you the most?

MavsCentral.com: Chris Paul. He is very good. Dallas has started to double team "alpha dog" type guards late in games recently and while it worked against the Hornets earlier this week, it has also led to some very easy baskets. Lamar Odom had a field day a couple weeks ago once Dallas started the trap against Kobe Bryant. Andrei Kirilenko also scored a bunch of easy baskets when they tried it with Utah/Deron Williams.

Hornets247: What/Who do you think will be the key to the series?

MavsCentral.com: Jason Terry. If he is connecting on shots and being aggressive towards the hoop (that is the key), Dallas will be in good shape. When he starts being lazy and just relies on chucking up shots from long range, Dallas does not play that well. Then the rest of the team joins in on the "fun". The Mavs are 9-13 this season when attempting 20+ three-point attempts.

Hornets247: If the Mavs win this series, it will be because…

MavsCentral.com: Like I said above, if Jason Terry is being aggressive and making shots, Dallas will be in good shape. Also, if they slow Chris Paul down enough to steal a game in New Orleans. Plus it doesn't hurt if Dirk Nowitzki doesn't shoot 38.3% from the field or 21.1% from three-point range like he did against the Warriors last season.

Hornets247: If the Hornets win this series, it will be because…

MavsCentral.com: Chris Paul goes off and gets the other Hornets going. Plus I think they need a strong performance from Peja Stojakovic. If you have a good outside shooter that gets going, that always help during the playoffs.

Hornets247: Personally, I'm not a big fan of Avery Johnson's micro-managing style of coaching. How do Mavs fans feel about him as head coach?

MavsCentral.com: Most still like him. He is a great person, but I think most Mav fans have calmed down on their man-crush on him after the 2006 season. Especially after last year's playoffs, you finally heard some Anti-Avery people come out of the woodwork and more so this season, but they are still the small minority. But when he first became the coach and just did wonders leading this team to the Finals, everyone was loving Avery. Plus, I could listen to him all day yelling about transition defense.

Hornets247: Who do you see winning this series and in how many games?

MavsCentral.com: I think this series is going to be a donnybrook that will go back and forth and the full seven games. But the homer in me has to go with Dallas. They seemed determine to make some noise this year after last year's mess. Plus the Hornets have no experience……I just had to throw that last bit in there since I am sure all Hornet fans love hearing that at this point. Don't worry, you have two more weeks of hearing about it. 😉

Hornets247: Any last words?

MavsCentral.com: Go Mavs. I love Bourbon Street, I was fortunate enough to spend NYE down there. I don't think I am allowed to write about my good times. Also, what happened to Adam Halsuka? I am a Hawkeye so I was pumped you guys drafted him.

Thanks, Matt. Adam Haluska was included in the trade that brought us Bonzi Wells, and the Rockets released him soon after. He's now playing for the Iowa Energy in the D-League, and tearing it up apparently. His spirit still lives on in New Orleans in the form of a tattoo on Chris Andersen's right butt cheek.

Be sure to check out my responses to Matt's questions, posted at MavsCentral.com. A quick sampling…

MavsCentral.com: What/Who do you think will be the key to the series?

Hornets247: Road wins. I see the series going back to Dallas tied at 1-1, and the Hornets will have to steal one on the road if they want to advance.

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