Recap of Mavericks-Hornets

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Published: April 30, 2008

I started putting together my Hornets-Spurs preview this morning, but as I did so, I realized we have some time until Saturday's Game 1 against the Spurs and I wanted to take some time to look at the Hornet's success in round one, and evaluate what the Hornets did well – and didn't do so well.  Oh, and surprise, I'll be using stats a lot.

A lot has been made of the Laker's domination of the Nuggets and their 114 points per game in the playoffs, but they aren't the most efficient offense so far in the postseason.  That honor falls to the New Orleans Hornets, who managed 114.9 points per 100 posessions in the five games against Dallas.  That number is a full 6 points better than what the Hornets did in the regular season, and was done against a top 7 defense.

In fact, despite all the pundits insisting the Hornets would fall due to post-season inexperience, which is another way of saying the Hornets were going to buckle under the pressure and get sloppy, every offensive statistic points to a highly disciplined Hornets team.

  • The Hornets controlled the tempo, keeping the game to a slow and deliberate pace of 89.4 posessions per game.
  • The Hornets limited their 3-point shooting, only firing up 14.8 shots from deep compared to 19.8 in the regular season.
  • Having limited their deep shooting to only open shots, the Hornets drilled 46% from deep, 7% better than the regular season, and managed to collect 6.8 three pointers a game, only .9 less than they were getting when they shot 5 more a game.
  • The Hornets tied for the lead in the regular season for taking care of the ball.  Taking advantage of the fact that Dallas was the worst team in the league at creating turnovers, the Hornets turned the ball over only 8.4% of the time, down from 11.4% in the regular season.
  • The remarkable cut in turnovers allowed the Hornets to register a post-season leading 2.81 assists for every turnover.

Where did the improved offensive efficiency come from?  Not Paul or West. Not Chandler, Stojakovic or Julian.  All of those Hornets  scored at about the same rate as usual even if their numbers were up since they played more minutes per game.(That's still surprising considering the quality of Dallas's Defense)  No, the increased efficiency was mostly generated by the Shooting Guards:  Pargo and Peterson.  Pargo's contributions were obvious as he pumped in 1.32 points for every shot he took, way up from the dismal .99 points he scored per shot in the regular season.  He even performed amazing feats of acrobatics – even if they weren't intentional.  Peterson's contributions largely went unsung and unnoticed.  At least until now.  The starting shooting guard scored 1.38 points per shot, up from 1.17 during the rest of the season.  Way to go, Mo.

So what did the Hornets do wrong?  In a word: Rebounding.  We gave up 105.4 points per 100 posessions this series, which is a worse defensive efficiency than we posted during the regular season.(102.9) Normally that's to be expected when facing a team with a top 6 offense in the league, but the scoring difference can almost entirely be explained by the Hornets weak rebounding.  Dallas Managed to grab 52.4% of the available rebounds, leaving the Hornets only 47.6%.  Over the course of a game that translates to about two to three posessions.  Posessions average out to be worth slightly more than a point usually – and that number matches almost exactly with the drop in our defense. 

Looking at the numbers, there is one primary culprit for our rebounding decline:  David West, who rebounded about 15% less per game than he did during the regular season.  I'm not sure I can blame him for it, since frequently he was battling Dirk, who liked to take him away from the basket and also had about four inches on him in height.  That's a tough job.

Tomorrow I'll tackle the Spurs and we'll see how we match up against the Defending Champs.  I'm sure Bruce Bowen is already quaking in fear at the thought of facing Chris Paul again.  I wish there was a youtube clip of Paul smacking him in the face "by accident" earlier in the season to go next to the one where Paul refuses to lie down and gets Bruce suspended.

Oh – and I have to say it once.  Hey Pundits?  Where's your playoff experience now?  Next time give me some god damn basketball reasons the Hornets will lose!

Don't miss Ron's most recent Aftermath Post!  It's a Monsta!

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