Game Preview: Mavericks @ Hornets

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Published: November 4, 2009

Before you get to the preview, be sure to watch Niall’s excellent first stab at video analysis as he reviews the pick and roll being run by Okafor and Paul.

Game Preview

Matchup: Mavericks(3-1) @ Hornets(1-3)

Dallas has opened the season in impressive fashion, falling in their first game to a hot-shooting Wizards team, but then winning their next three against the Lakers, Clippers and Jazz by an average of 10 points.  Dirk Nowitzki has been tremendous so far, pouring in 30 points a game and contributing everywhere with assists, steals, rebounds and even a good number of blocks.  Last night, he led a comeback against the Jazz and dropped 29 points in the fourth quarter alone.  29 freakin’ points in 12 minutes.  Hopefully that tired him out for tonight’s game.

For a team that has a reputation for being all offense, little defense, Dallas has been getting their wins done by riding Nowitzki’s scoring, and shutting the other team down.  Opponents have shot 42.5% from the floor, and 32.8% from deep.  The Mavericks are also managing to draw 28 free throws a game(12 from Nowitzki alone), while only giving up 19 free throws a game to their opponents.

The Hornets have been riding a big gun as well, as Chris Paul has so far averaged 28 points a game.  Strangely enough, Paul has managed to score that much on one less shot per game than he took last year, compensating instead with other-worldly shooting percentages of 66% from the field and 82% from three.  The dude is crazy.

Unfortunately for the Hornets, Paul may be on fire, but their interior defense has been terrible, allowing opposing players to shoot 52% inside the three-point stripe.  They’ve also been unable to control the boards, giving up a two to one advantage on the offensive glass.(6.8 orebs for Hornets, 12 on average per opponent)  Since rebounding is a particular strength of the Mavericks, as Dampier, Marion, and Kidd are above-average rebounders at their position and Nowitzki is no slouch, things could get ugly tonight if the Hornets don’t clean the glass.

Injuries:

Mavericks: Josh Howard and Tim Thomas remain out.  Drew Gooden is Day-to-Day but did not play last night against the Jazz.
Hornets: Diogu’s knee has healed enough to allow him to practice.  No word yet if he’ll be able to play.

Positional Analysis

PG: Jason Kidd v Chris Paul
Advantage:  Hornets
Chris Paul always destroys Jason Kidd.  Last year, the Mavericks made Paul work a little by putting Antoine Wright on him, but Wright is gone, and they’ll probably have to resort to Quinton Ross, who isn’t quite the defender Wright was.  So expect another big night from Paul – though we all should expect his shooting percentages to descend to earth one of these days.  Kidd will hit a couple wide open threes, help control the defensive glass, feed Marion for a oop or two, and spend most of the game trying to guard Stojakovic because he may actually be able to keep up with him.

SG: Quinton Ross v Morris Peterson
Advantage: Hornets
Seriously.  Morris Peterson is better than Quinton Ross.  Ross is a defender who only plays 12 minutes a game, delivers as many fouls as points, and generally does nothing except allow Jason Kidd to not chase point guards around for the 12 minutes Jason Terry or Jose Juan Barea aren’t playing with him.  So yes, Morris is better – but you don’t have to be very good to be better than a non-entity.

SF: Shawn Marion v Julian Wright
Advantage: Mavericks
Marion’s offensive game is entirely predicated on fast breaks and putbacks at this point.  In the half-court, he’s not much of a player anywhere but on the glass – and it shows in his percentages.(42% from the field, 0% from three, 2 free throws per game)  Still, Marion will defend gamely, run hard and get easy baskets, and crash the boards hard.  Julian will need to keep close to Marion to prevent those easy scores.  In my world, Marion is what I want Julian to turn into – with more speed.  He’s not there yet.

PF: Dirk Nowitzki v David West
Advantage: Mavericks
Nowitzki has been on fire, and West has been marginalized somewhat as an offensive option with Okafor scoring competently from the post.  West usually does a good job keeping Nowitzki taking the mid-range, low efficiency shot – but Nowitzki has been determined going to the hoop, and West may struggle defending him if the big German continues that aggressiveness.

C: Erick Dampier v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Hornets
Okafor’s offense has been pretty nice.  He’ll struggle a little moving Dampier, but he should be able to still score at a decent clip.  Dampier will get a couple putbacks and maybe an alley-oop.  His strength is his massive size, skill on the offensive boards, and since the Mavericks lost Bass and Gooden has been injured, he’s peen playing more minutes than normal and managed to keep his fouls reasonable.  A bit of a resurgence for the Mavs big man.

Bench
Advantage: Mavericks
Jason Terry, Jose Juan Barea, and Kris Humphries vs Peja Stojakovic, Bobby Brown, James Posey and Hilton Armstrong.
Terry plays most of the game, though so far this year his shot has been off.  The Hornets have always struggled guarding him, though, and I expect him to get it going with his usual brand of explosive energy.  Jose Juan Barea, though he has limited gifts, is a much better point guard than Bobby Brown, and Kris Humphries is a competent banger.  While Peja has looked good and continues to put up points, Posey, Brown and Armstrong continue to struggle, and unless one of them shakes off their malaise, I’d prefer the Mavericks bench to the Hornet’s.

Enjoy the game.

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