Friday, April 18, 2008

Mavs/Hornets Picks

The Mavs open the post season in New Orleans tomorrow night as the clear-cut underdog in a series for the first time in several years. Or at least, that's what I thought.

But looking over some of the experts picks from some national outlets, perhaps these "experts" forgot which team was seeded where. The Hornets are the 2-seed, and they've been at or near the top of the Western Conference for the majority of the season. The Mavericks have struggled during the 2008 campaign, spending time in both first place and flirting with missing the playoffs. Dallas locked into the 7-seed when they beat the Hornets on Wednesday night.

Perhaps that win led to a lot of the expert picks for this series, or maybe it's the lack of post-season experience of the Hornets, or maybe this whole Jason Kidd thing is finally clicking. Whatever it is, here are some of the national picks for this series: Expert Picks:
  • J.A. Adande ... MAVERICKS (in 6)
  • Chris Broussard ... MAVERICKS (in 7)
  • Chad Ford ... HORNETS (in 7)
  • John Hollinger ... HORNETS (in 7)
  • Marc Stein ... MAVERICKS (in 6)
  • David Thorpe ... MAVERICKS (in 7)
Two-thirds of the experts are picking the Mavericks, and two are saying they'll win in a Game 7 which would take place in New Orleans. It's no easy task to win Game 7 on someone else's home court. So I went to another source to see what their experts thought. Expert Picks
  • Greg Bromberg ... HORNETS (in 6)
  • Lyle Crouse ... HORNETS (in 7)
  • Sergio Gonzalez ... HORNETS (in 6)
  • Jamey Elsenberg ... MAVERICKS (in 7)
  • Aaron Weisberg ... HORNETS (in 7)
This seemed a little more like what the national perspective of this first-round series should be. The Mavericks aren't a top-seed. They aren't even a mid-level seed. They are essentially second-to-last in the Western Conference playoffs. That being said, Dallas finished only five games behind New Orleans for the season. Usually there is a much greater discrepancy of team records in a 2-7 series. Not in this year's West. Not be a long shot. Sports
USA Today
Fox Sports
AOL Sports
So while the Mavericks might be underdogs going into this series, there is a strong feeling that Dallas' experience and their overall desire to redeem themselves for last season's debacle will get them over the hump in this series.  A frightening number of experts are picking Dallas to win the series in seven games.  The Mavs' most recent Game 7 win on an opponent's floor came in the 2006 conference semi-finals in San Antonio.  Manu Ginobili fouled Dirk Nowitzki with mere seconds to go, sending Dirk to the line to sink a free throw to send the game into overtime.  Dallas stole the momentum and the series.

Of these national experts that I've been able to find, seven are picking New Orleans while eight are picking Dallas.  Despite having an MVP-candidate and a very strong team, the Hornets' lack of post-season experience is the reason some say they won't make a strong playoff run.  Others say it won't be a problem.  And while experience can be overrated, Dallas has a dearth of it that can't be counted out.

Only one thing is certain: when this series tips off tomorrow night, it'll be fun to watch.


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