Game On: Mavericks @ Hornets
New Orleans hosts Dallas tonight in their last home game ever as the Hornets.
The Dallas Mavericks enter tonight’s game all but locked into their place in the standings as the second best lottery team (likely equating to the 13th pick in the draft). The only way that they could move from that spot would be if they win all three of their remaining games and Utah loses both of theirs, a pretty unlikely scenario. Between that, their desire to shave, and the fact that Dirk Nowitzki is just 10 points away from 25,000 in his career, the Mavs have no reason not to come out and give 110% effort tonight.
All season long, my Hornets game previews have contained “keys to the game” that will allow the Hornets to win. For tonight’s home finale, however, I’m not even going to pretend that I’m rooting for a victory. The Hornets currently sit with the 5th best lottery odds (8.8% chance at the #1 pick), and could see that standing fall as far as a tie for 7th worst (~3.5% chance) with the Wizards if they win both of their remaining games, which could have huge negative implications. So basically, I want to see crisp passing and beautiful ball movement, leading to shots that go in and out of the rim. I want to see Robin Lopez dominate the defensive glass, only to have hit outlet pass hit off of Aminu’s hands and go out of bounds. I want to see Brian Roberts rack up another 18-assist game while O.J. Mayo and Vince Carter make tons of heavily contested three-pointers. I want to see the Hornets play a great game, but come up just short. That being said, I’ll share which players I’ll be watching the closest tonight with the future in mind.
- Lou Amundson. While he is pretty inept offensively, Lou has been great for New Orleans on the other end of the floor. The Hornets had their eyes on him before he signed with Golden State in 2010, so these final two games could very well be the end of an audition for Amundson to earn a contract offer for next season. I personally would love him on this team as a fifth big man next season.
- Brian Roberts. As the season has progressed, Roberts’ has become more than just a scoring point guard. He has displayed some improved court vision and made some impressive passes. While I’m still not sure whether or not he will ever be good enough to serve as the backup point guard for a true title contender, an offseason of work with NBA coaches could really help his game for next year.
- Robin Lopez. The one area in which Lopez routinely struggles is on the defensive glass. However, the team always rebounds better on this end while he is on the court, which makes me wonder whether or not he simply puts all of his work into boxing out and allowing teammates to grab those rebounds instead of him. I’ll be watching Lopez closely when shots go up to see how he contributes in that regard.
Enjoy the home finale, everyone!