Some quick thoughts on the Mavericks/Hornets Game 1 of their first round playoff series:
Very frustrating Mavs loss, especially after such a nice first half. Did Dallas think that just because they beat the Hornets Wednesday when New Orleans had relatively little to play for that they could just take the second half off?
I don't think it's time to be calling for Avery's head (yet), and the concept of trading Dirk is idiotic (because you never get equal value when trading a superstar). But the supporting cast has to show up. Period.
This Hornets team struggles when they get in foul trouble because of their lack of depth, thus the Mavs should be driving the ball every chance they get. Just look at the damage the Mavs did Wednesday when the Hornets got in foul trouble. It's tough to draw fouls when you're shooting (and missing) 18-20 ft jump shots.
More aggressive in Game 2, and Dallas can split in N.O. - which is really all that's necessary.
For the Mavericks to win this series, they cannot do it on talent alone. They are going to have to play smarter than the Hornets (and all the Mavs fans mumbled collectively "CRAP!"). That means a few things:
1. No technical fouls (that means you, Josh Howard). Tempers will get hot throughout a seven game series, but the team that wins will not let their emotions overtake them in crucial points of the game.
2. No dumb turnovers (ie, shot clock expiring as if out of nowhere). If Jason Kidd makes an aggressive pass into the lane for a waiting Dampier and David West reaches in to break it up, that's fine. But if the buzzer sounds on the shot clock, please don't look surprised.
3. Put pressure on the Hornets bench. Drive to the basket to get the New Orleans bigs in early foul trouble. The Mavs made their comeback run in Wednesday's regular-season finale when a lot of the New Orleans starters were on the bench in foul trouble. The easiest way to make that happen again is by driving to the basket. No one gets fouled shooting a fall-away three pointer.
4. Take high-percentage shots. You'd think this would be obvious, but the Mavs made only nine - NINE! - field goals in the second half. They shot 33.3% from the field on the night. Perhaps some credit is due to the Hornets' defense, but a lot of the troubles stem from extremely poor shot selection.
A lot of this falls on Avery to reinforce, but some of it should not have to be reinforced. Avery isn't the one not watching the shot clock or drawing up plays for bad shots. The responsibility falls on the men on the court. They need to play smarter the rest of this series.