Game Preview: Hornets @ Mavericks

Matchup: Hornets(10-12) @ Mavericks(17-7)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 103.4(18th), Mavericks 106.2(11th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 107.4(24th), Mavericks 99.8(5th)

The Hornets beat the Mavericks earlier this year – in a game they really had no business winning.  It’s not often that you can spot a team a three point lead and four free throw attempts with less than a minute left and walk away with an overtime win.  It won’t happen again.

Now, the Hornets have matched up well with the Mavericks over the past few years, as no Maverick can hope to contain Chris Paul, David West has done enough to almost balance out Dirk, and Peja Stojakovic has baited Josh Howard into a low efficiency jump-shooter.  Unfortunately for the Hornets, West isn’t playing well, Paul is not explosive with that gimpy ankle, and Josh Howard probably isn’t around to be baited by Peja.

That’s not to say the guys don’t have a chance tonight, with Paul on the floor and a couple more days of rest for that ankle, anything is possible.  Still, not feeling good going into a game against the Mavericks is a bit of a change for me.  I used to think the Hornets were simply a bad matchup for the Mavericks.  I don’t feel comfortable thinking that anymore. 

I mean, look at the efficiencies above.  The Hornets haven’t even been average this season.  They’ve been well below average.  Defensively, the Hornets have been like the French in 1940.


Hornets: Diogu is done.  Marks is still struggling.
Mavericks: Josh Howard is trying to get back, having sat out the last pair of games.  He may play tonight.  Quinton Ross is day to day.

Positional Analysis

PG: Jose Juan Barea v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
I like JJ Barea.  He’s got a nice shot, he plays hard, and he makes few mistakes.  He’s a very good backup point. Sometimes I feel bad about the way Paul tends to treat him – almost contemptuously – by posting him, bumping him, getting physical and abusing him every chance he gets.  Well, I feel a little bad, anyways.  Mostly during the awkward moments. 

Barea has started recently – I’m not convinced Quinton Ross won’t get the start tonight to try and provide more resistance to Paul.  Either way, this is a seriously losing proposition.

SG: Jason Kidd v Devin Brown
Advantage: Mavericks
Starting Kidd as a swingman makes sense.  You can still take advantage of his playmaking and three point shooting, while not exposing him to embarrassment by speedy wing men.  Devin Brown isn’t speedy.  He’s also not as effective offensively as Kidd – though if he stays home on Kidd and makes him drive instead of get open threes, Kidd’s half-court worth plummets.

SF: Shawn Marion v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Even
Shawn Marion has not been good offensively this year.  He doesn’t stretch the floor with his shooting, and his rebound rate is well below average.  His defense is still nice, and he can slip baseline for effective cuts to basket, but he’s not been a great investment for the Mavericks.  Stojakovic has been breathing fire the past few games, and has been moving more freely and getting to open spots better over that stretch of games than I’ve seen in a while.  If he’s keeps up that torrid shooting pace, this position swings to the Hornets.

PF: Dirk Nowitzki v David West
Advantage: Mavericks
Nowitzki has been a beast this year.  He’s been efficient on a huge number of shots, has an insanely low turnover rate, and isn’t doing badly in the passing department either.  His rebounding has tailed off considerably, but he’s going against David West tonight, the poster boy for not grabbing defensive rebounds from the Power Forward Position.(West is 50th out of 65 at defensive rebound rate)  West isn’t bad at keeping Dirk from driving, but he gives up that elbow jumper all game long.  Nowitzki usually hits that at a pretty high rate.

C: Erick Dampier v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Even
Dampier will be a pretty big roadblock to Emeka scoring on his own from the post.  Mek lacks much in the finesse department, instead preferring to muscle his way closer to the basket and hit a short hook – however, the massive Dampier isn’t going to be muscled anywhere.  The way to neutralize Dampier is to run a quick pick and roll attack, and that’s something Paul and Okafor have started to get going – we’ll see if they run that enough for Okafor to get the advantage here.  Otherwise, Dampier’s rebounding will carry this position for the Hornets.

Advantage: Mavericks
Tim Thomas, Jason Terry, Quinton Ross, Drew Gooden v Songaila, Thornton, Posey, Collison.  The Hornets bench isn’t so bad.  It has a terrible dearth of rebounding, but it’s infinitely better than what they’ve fielded the past couple years.  the Mavericks, however, have a very good guard in Jason Terry who comes off the bench, and he tends to murder the Hornets.   I’d like to see Collison take a turn trying to track Terry.  If Collison can get his skinny frame through all the screens, he could be effective.

Enjoy the game.

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