It’s Dallas-New Orleans, Part 2. A seven game series is, more than anything else, about adjustments. So I compiled this handy list of things to keep and things to change from Game 1. I didn’t include stuff like “Paul should score 35 again” because that’s not how game strategy works… you don’t go into a game expecting an individual to put up specific numbers. In other words, I wouldn’t mind General Pargo shooting 5+ shots one more time because individual performances change from game to game. What shouldn’t change are team goals.
What to Keep (from Game 1)
1. Low Turnover Rate- Dallas ranked dead last (!) in forcing turnovers during the season. No team forced opponents to give it up fewer times. That means that the Hornets need to avoid mental mistakes- if they don’t make unforced errors, chances are Dallas will not get many extra possessions. This is one of Dallas’ most non-talked about weaknesses, and one we simply have to take advantage of.
2. Level Headedness- I loved how our guys responded to adversity last night. David West got smacked in the face by Dirk, and instead of reacting emotionally, he proceeded to have an “adult” conversation. I know he got T’d up for it, but go watch their confrontation again. That’s calmest you can possibly say, “Yo, hit me in the face one more time and I’ll go medieval on your ass.” Chris Paul showed terrific restraint after Dirk nailed him in the solar plexus at half court. Bonzi, the supposed “head case,” walked away with a grin after an offensive foul call went against him. Tyson probably made the only bad decision in shoving Nowitzki, but credit him for not getting in another heated situation (where he could have received a second tech and been thrown out) the rest of the night. This series is only going to get more chippy from this point forward.
3. O-Glass Wizardy- I’ve re-watched the game twice since Saturday, and each viewing reinforced this- Tyson Chandler got good rebounding position very infrequently (compared to his normal games). Now that seems contradictory to his 15 board total, but a ton of his rebounds were long tip outs on shots he couldn’t have possibly grabbed. Dallas is an excellent rebounding team, so “stealing” boards could be essential again. Erick Dampier is great at boxing out, but he doesn’t have Tyson’s athleticism to stretch out and bat away long boards.
What to Lose
1. Excessive Fouling- As I’ve mentioned multiple times this season, the Hornets don’t really play the best FG% defense. Their primary advantage over opponents is the infrequency with which they foul. New Orleans committed far and away the fewest fouls in the league during the season at an 18.4 FT/FG rate allowed for opponents. Now contrast that with the 42.3 FT/FG rate they allowed Dallas in Game 1. I like to think about it this way- “Not Fouling” is our version of a Ron Artest or Bruce Bowen (to be fair, he’s not as dirty). By fouling too much, we take our best “defender” off the court. If a team like Houston took Battier off the floor, his presence would be immediately missed. Fouls are harder for viewers to associate with good or bad defense, but they’re just as important.
2. Poor Defensive Rebounding- While the O-Glass work was impressive, the D-Glass left much to be desired. Josh Howard doubled David West’s offensive rebound total; that’s all you need to know. There’s not much else to say here other than that the Hornets need to give Tyson Chandler some support under the hoop. He can’t go it alone, especially with Kidd being as good a rebounder as he is.
3. The Slow Start Epidemic- It’s been happening a lot recently, and it happened again in Game 1. The Hornets need to start doing more damage early in games. Especially with Dallas on the road, putting the Mavs in an early hole forces them to climb back out with the (amazing) crowd at full volume. In Game 1, New O got some good looks, but many of them were from three or long twos. My solution? Post David West on the low block until he puts one of Dirk or Dampier in foul trouble. CP and TC have been in foul trouble in recent games, but can you even remember the last time we put a star player in foul trouble? Imagine Dirk going to the bench with 8 minutes to go… I’m beginning to salivate already. Go Hornets!!!
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