The Dallas Mavericks are a better team than the New Orleans Hornets.
Last year, they were a better team than the Golden State Warriors. The year before, Dallas was better than the Miami Heat. So what's different in "Loserville" this year? Why will the best team actually win this playoff series?
Let’s break it down and find out.
Chris Paul vs. Jason Kidd
Paul is averaging 26.5 points, 5.25 rebounds, 10 assists, and 3.75 steals in four games versus Dallas.
His stats were virtually the same with either Kidd or Devin Harris guarding him, with the exception of the 11-steal game the first game after the Kidd trade, but I don't think he will duplicate that.
Kidd is averaging 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.3 assists in three games versus New Orleans. Kidd is Dallas' leading rebounder against the Hornets, which was huge in the Mavs’ win Wednesday night.
But Paul is the dominant player in this series, so give this one to New Orleans.
Morris Peterson vs. Jason Terry
Peterson is averaging 5.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in four games versus Dallas, and I can't even remember a single moment he was involved in the other night.
Terry is averaging 22 points, 3.25 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals in four games against New Orleans. He has been the Mavericks best player in the four games against the Hornets, and no one from the Hornets has been able to slow him down.
Give the Mavs a full two-point advantage in this landslide.
Tyson Chandler vs. Erick Dampier
Chandler is averaging 12.5 points and 10.25 rebounds in four games versus Dallas. His numbers have declined every single game against the Mavs, and he hasn't hit double digits against them since before Christmas.
Dampier is averaging 6.25 points and 5.25 rebounds in four games against the Hornets. Dallas has a hard time keeping Dampier on the floor against Chandler and West, but he always has at least one decent game in each series.
Neither team has the advantage here because of how poor Chandler has been after Christmas and how much better Damp has been since Kidd started feeding him passes with a baby spoon.
But if it ends in a tie, this will be New Orleans’ tiebreaker.
Peja Stojakovic vs. Josh Howard
Peja is averaging 16.75 points and 5.75 rebounds against Dallas in four games, and he has significant experience against the Mavs in the playoffs from his Sacramento days.
Howard is averaging 16.25 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in the four games against New Orleans. He is not playing well down the stretch, but he was fine against the Hornets on Wednesday. This one is a push also; I am taking away the tiebreaker New Orleans won above.
David West vs. Dirk Nowitzki
West is averaging 18 points, 10.75 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.75 blocks in the four games against Dallas this year. No one in the Mavs starting lineup can guard him, and he's done a great job against Dirk this year.
Dirk is averaging 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in the four games against the Hornets this year. Dirk does draw a double team every time he touches the ball, but he has been his own worst enemy by settling for jumpers and shooting poorly against New Orleans.
It kills me to say this, but West gets the nod over Dirk in this match-up.
Bonzi Wells of New Orleans had 16 points and 4 rebounds in Dallas on Wednesday, which was his only significant contribution against Dallas this year.
On the other side, Jerry Stackhouse averaged 17 points in the two games he played real minutes in and Brandon Bass is pitching in 8.75 points, 7.25 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks off the bench.
Throw in the energy and experience of Eddie Jones, and the Mavs clearly dominate this spot. Give the Mavs two full points on this one.
The Hornets get one point for Chris Paul and one for David West for a total of two. The Mavericks get two for Jason Terry and two for the Bench for a total of four.
Dallas wins this category by two points, 4-2.
Coaching: Byron Scott vs. Avery Johnson
You can't really break down a coaching match-up with stats. Though Avery Johnson was the fastest coach in league history to 150 wins, that doesn't really tell you much.
Both have been to the finals. Both lost. Scott lost both times, Johnson lost once.
Byron Scott went through the Eastern Conference, while Avery Johnson survived some great playoff series in the Western Conference. Both got undressed by Hall of Fame coaches in the Finals.
To find the winner, just look at Wednesday night. With nothing on the line, the Hornets played everyone who mattered an unbelievable amount of minutes and only rested guys because of foul trouble. The Mavericks played possessed because everyone knew Kobe might become the career playoff-scoring leader if the Lakers played Dallas.
So one team played all out but not good enough when it counted, and one team played for their lives with everything to gain.
Sound familiar to last year in Dallas? Only this time the roles are reversed, and while I'm not saying Avery did a great job, he didn't let his team get kicked in the head over and over like Byron did the other night.
And why doesn't Byron Scott have a way to stop Kidd other than backing off and letting him shoot? Didn't he see Kidd's deficiencies in those two Finals losses?
I’ve got to go with Avery Johnson here. So give the Mavs .5 for coaching because Avery hasn't quite earned a full point yet.
New Orleans is 30-11 at home, while Dallas is 34-7 at the American Airlines Center. New Orleans just doesn't have a home court feel to it yet, and the Mavericks have one of the best crowds in the league. Dallas gets another point.
The Hornets seem to be riding the wave of good will that the Saints rode in the Big Easy last year, and Chris Paul is going to finish in the top two of MVP voting.
If you watched Wednesday night though, Dallas rattled the Hornets by reaching an intensity level that most of them haven't been at before (and Peja doesn't count because he was never at that level even though he's been there).
New Orleans missed open dunks and made careless turnovers right as Dallas was making its push. For the Mavs, Eddie Jones, Brandon Bass, and Jason Kidd seemed to find every loose ball and long rebound the other night, and I don't expect that to change.
The Mavs have been to the bottom the last two years, so they're due. Give the Mavs another point.
The Final Tally
Dallas gets two points in Match-ups, .5 in Coaching, one in Home Court, and one in Intangibles for a total of 4.5.
What does that mean? Who knows, but since you can't win a series 4.5-0, I'll just have to go with Dallas in four.
I'm sure Mark Cuban will give Chris Paul courtside seats in round two so he can receive the MVP trophy at the next closest home court available (Houston will be done too). Dallas may not be able to stop Chris Paul, but Paul can't stop the Mavs either.
The Dallas Mavericks are simply better than the New Orleans Hornets. Bring on the Suns!